We started from Delhi on our road trip to Himachal Pradesh. It took us 10 hours to reach Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. After visiting the famous Jwalaji Temple, /Jwalamukhi Temple, Kangra, the next destination in our trip was Dharamshala and Mcleodganj. Dharamshala is about 52 kms from Kangra bus stand or the Jwalaji Temple, Kangra. One can take a local bus from here or the deluxe Volvo which comes from Delhi in the morning. It takes only an hour and a half to reach Dharamshala. Although there is not much to see in Dharamshala, but one can visit the the Cricket Stadium and the Museum of Kangra Art nearby situated right besides the main road going towards Mcloedganj. As you move further towards Mcleodganj, you will pass by an old Church “St. Jones in the Wilderness” which you can visit for its old world look.
There is also a famous Osho Ashram situated in Sheela Village, about 5-6 kilometres from Dharamshala main bus stand. The Ashram was established by Late Ma Neelam in association with other sanyasins like film actor Vinod Khanna and others. The Ashram conducts daily meditations on Osho’s Philosophy and bookings to attend the programs are done through online mode months before the program starts. The resort type settings by the side of the river stream is well suited for those deep meditation sessions conducted by Osho sanyasins. The food served is organic and the ambience is serene.
Mcleodganj is about 20 kilometers from Dharamshala and it takes half an hour to forty five minutes to reach the beautiful town of Mcleodganj. As you enter the market area there are lot of options for stay here and at the other end of the market. Its recommended to book in advance as it is crowded in tourist season in summers as well as in winters. It is a small town mostly inhabited by tibetan population who choose to stay here after they were displaced from China in 1959 with the 14th Dalai Lama fled, to India after uprising in Tibet against the then government. This is the reason that Mcleodganj is also known as “Little Lhasa”
It is the home of the present Dalai Lama as well as thousands of tibetan followers who stay here and are mostly dependent on tourism for their livelihood.
The Nymgyal Monastery is at the end of a road called the temple road and is home to Dalai Lama as well as the monks who stay here and participate in all day routine of the monastery. One can visit the temple here and see the activities of the monk who spend their time in prayers and they also involve in physical activities like playing games. you can spend some quality time here meditation or just sitting quietly and feeling the vibes of this sacred place.
The famous places of interest include the Bhagsunag Temple and the waterfall nearby. For Bhagsunag temple one has to take a walk or an auto for 2 kilometres and reach the temple and for waterfall one has to take a short hike of 900 meters from the temple compound.
There are a lot of Tibetan cafes to try for good food and ambience. Most of the cafes serve tibetan food but there are also cafes serving Indian and even Italian food of good quality at a reasonable price. We tried the Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen and enjoyed the food. It is situated near the main square and anybody can guide you the way to the restaurant.
Norling Cafe is famous for Tibetan Food and is rated high in quality and ambience. It is situated in the main Market and is visited by tourists and locals as well. This restaurant was featured in the famous TV Food show “Highway on my plate” by Rocky and Mayur and this is showcased on its billboard right in front of the restaurant.
Norling Restaurant is run by an sweet old lady and there is a local touch in each of the recipes. They also sell homemade local chutney and noodles.
The best season to visit the place is in the summer time of March to July before the monsoons. If you are interested in snow, then you must visit Mcleodganj in the winter months of November to January to experience the snowfall and the snow covered town.
The best and easiest way to reach Mcleodganj is by catching an overnight Volvo Bus from ISBT, Kashmere Gate, Delhi and reach Dharamshala by early morning. It takes about 12 hours overnight. If you want to come by air, then the nearest airport is at a place called Gaggal, about 20 kilometers from Dharamshala and take cab from there to reach either Dharamshala or Mcleodganj.
Nearest Railway Station is at Pathankot which is 85 kilometers away from Dharamshala and takes 2-3 hours by road to reach there. You can hire a taxi or catch a local bus from the local bus stand at Pathankot which is located not far off from the railway station.
It is desirable to spend at least two days in Dharamshala/Mcloedganj to visit all important places of interest, but if you are not in a hurry, you can spend as much time as you want in the lap of nature in the beautiful nearby villages like Naddi. You can also trek to Triund which is quite popular from here and ideally takes 5-6 hours to reach the top. People generally come back the same day but you also have the option of staying and camping there at the top. If you are doing the trek the same day, it is desirable to start the trek early in the morning so as to reach early and come back to Mcleodganj before dark.
Incase you have any questions to ask, you can drop them in the comment section.
Wish you happy and safe journey…