Mcleodganj is a small hill town nestled between the mighty mountains of Himachal Pradesh. It is a peaceful abode of the Tibetan refugees where spirituality and nature join hands to form a colorful and serene picture. There are old and young monks chanting Buddhist chants, their voices echoing in the hills; the young Himachali school children tip-toeing their way through the dense thick forests in the wee morning hours; there is the old Himachali woman collecting wood from the forest and singing sweet songs of the Spring to entertain herself – Mcleodganj witnesses all this and more.
Budget: 4500/- INR (including stay, food and sight-seeing)
Peak season: September to June. You can enjoy Losar, the Tibetan new year during February-March.
Places to Visit:
If you are looking forward to experiencing Tibetan culture, these places will be perfect for you.
Namgyal Monastry: The Namgyal Monastery is situated inside the Tsuglagkhang complex. You can visit various shrines, temples etc and bookstores. It’s at a walk able distance from the above listed hotels. It is located on temple road just near the main town square. Entry is free.
- Open: 5 am-8 pm (Apr-Oct) and 6 am-6 pm (Nov-Mar)
Norbulingka Institute: The institute is dedicated to Tibetan art and crafts. The Losel doll museum here, represents the Tibetan life using dolls in various costumes. It’s located 12 km from Mcleodganj and you can get here by a taxi (cost- Rs.200-300)or local bus (cost- around Rs. 30). You can also visit Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts for a wonderful experience.
- Entry Feee– Rs 20.
St. john in the wilderness is another fine example of architecture that you should not miss. It is an Anglican Church located near Forsyth Ganj. It also has a graveyard nearby, which you will love if you are not easily spooked. You can hire an auto rickshaw to get there. But it is advisable to walk there, as it is only a 20 minute walk from the bus station.
- Entry is free.
Bhagsu Falls is a waterfall at a distance of 2.5 km from Mcleodganj. You can enjoy light trekking here. There are a few cafes here where you can relish Tibetan food and maybe a puff of Sheesha. The fall itself is breathtaking and you can enjoy the beauty with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand. Again it is advisable to walk rather than hiring a taxi. For the adventure freaks, you can go on a trek with difficulty ranging from easy to difficult. A few of them are:
- Trek to Triund: Triund trek is the best for you if you are a beginner, with difficulty, easy-moderate. It’s a one day trek with rocky terrain. The top greets you a mesmerizing view of the snow capped Dhauladhar range. The trek is 9 km long and takes around 3 hours to reach the top. If youre planning a one day trek then you don’t need to spend any money. Overnight stay usually costs upto Rs. 2000.
- Trek to Snow line: This trek passes through Triund to Lahesh caves and then to Chhatta Parao. The trek is moderate-difficult so you must be fit and have some trekking experience. It is a must do if you are into adventure. It takes 2 nights and 3 days. Total costs can be up to Rs. 3500.
Apart from all these you can take a stroll through Mall Road for shopping. Be it Pashmina shawls or fancy scarves or a hip locket, you can find them all here. You can also find fine specimens of Tibetan arts and craft .
Places to Eat:
Woeser Bakery is the place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Try the famous doughnuts, you might not want to stop eating, ever.
- Cost – Rs. 80.
Nick’s Italian Kitchen is an Italian café with lip smacking pasta. The open terrace seating allows you to enjoy the view while satiating your hunger.
Enjoy authentic Tibetans food in Peace Café at cheap rates. What more can anyone ask for?
- Cost – Rs. 70-100.
Moonpeak Espresso is the place to go to for awesome coffee. And have a carrot cake while you’re at it.
- Cost- Rs. 150
How to Reach McLeodganj from Delhi:
- You can catch a flight from Delhi to Dharmshala and then take a bus or cab from there to Mcleodganj (5.4km). There are plenty of direct buses from Delhi to Mcleodganj. Volvo buses cost around INR 900-1000. Alternatively, you can take HRTC (non AC) buses which cost around INR 600.
Places to Stay:
There is a wide range of option available for staying including budget hotels and high end resorts. A few of them are:
- Hotel Triund: Located in Bhagsunag, Mcleodganj, it is a mid range hotel. It provides free breakfast and wifi and costs around Rs. 2000 per night for a room for 2 people. Mall road and the Bhagsunag falls are at a walk able distance from here.
- Hotel Akash: located in Bhagsunag, Mcleodganj, it is a budget hotel. One night at this hotel costs around Rs. 750 and breakfast is complimentary.
Tips for travelling:
- Carry heavy woollens in winter as the temperature goes as low as -7 degree Celsius.
- If you are planning to stay the night on a trek make sure to carry all the essentials with you as there are no supplies at the top.
- Take a detour to Dharamshala if you have the time.
PS: The article has some excerpts from our author Ritika Dalal as well.