Travel Tales

McLeod Ganj: The Beauty of Serenity

The planet we call ‘Home’ is blessed with innumerous beauties. One such place which adorns the northern part of India is McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. Situated at the foothills of the massive Dhauladhar Range, McLeod Ganj attracts locals and tourists alike with its unparalleled scenic beauty.

View from Naddi_edit

The best time to visit McLeod Ganj is April-August. But believe me when I say that it looks beautiful all round the year. It’s a place which offers you everything that you need without taking anything away from you.

You do not have to become a monk to experience the serenity which McLeod Ganj offers. It’s a paradise where urban sophistication is entwined with rural simplicity to create the perfect harmony which we crave for in the metropolitan cities.

On Cloud 9_edit

You can sit in a fancy restaurant to devour a delicious Italian lunch and after that you can simply take a walk uphill and get lost in the wilderness. McLeod Ganj with all its elements- be it the breathtaking mountains, the fresh aroma of rain and pine trees, the scrumptious delicacies, the calm and friendly people, the queer silence of a moonlit night with the snow atop the mountains glistening like a huge solitaire or the merry hustle-bustle of the colorful Jogibara Road – is like Santa’s ‘goodies bag’.

St. John's in the Wilderness

Norbulingka Institute

If you are planning to visit McLeod Ganj, I have a few recommendations for you. For accommodation, nothing beats the lodges and hotels on the Jogibara Road. It doesn’t matter whether you are a prince or a pauper, you will always find a place suited to your taste and comfort.

If you are a foodie, you are at the right place. You will be amazed with the plethora of cuisines that are on offer- from Indian to Mexican, Italian to Tibetan, Chinese to English- you name it, you have it. Do try the Himachali Thalis which are mouth-watering and very easy on your pocket.

The interiors of Jimmy's Italian Kitchen, an Ode to Hollywood

Lamb, Sizzlers and Salad at Norling's Restaurant_edit

Bacon and Eggs with Hash Brown Potatoes at Carpe Diem, Jogibara Road_edit

Himachali Thali_edit

For nature lovers, apart from the usual hot spots like the Bhagsu waterfall and Triund trekking, I would suggest a place which not many people know of. It’s a small trek, a path not trodden by many, at a place called Naddi.

Once you are done with the usual sightseeing at Naddi, ask the locals about how to get to the river, and they will point out the way for you. It takes about 30 minutes to reach there, provided you don’t get stupefied by what you get to see on the way. The path is in the heart of the jungle and you can hear the sound of everything that moves around you. When you hear the soothing music of gurgling water you would get to know that you are almost there. You would rarely find anybody on the way, and even at the spot I am referring to, especially in the off-season. The silence and desolation of that particular spot, the rocky banks of a furious river and the greenery surrounding it, is worth all the pain you take to reach there.

McLeod Ganj is also a haven for tattoo lovers. If you have a passion of getting inked, do visit the tattoo studios or take an appointment from Tamding, who is considered the best artist in town.

Tibet Ink Tattoo Shop_edit

Here are a few simple tips which will make your stay comfortable and keep you away from trouble:

  • Do carry an umbrella or raincoat as it can rain anytime without the slightest pretense. You don’t want to fall sick by any chance as McLeodganj does not have a hospital, the closest one would be at Dharamshala, which will take about 30 minutes by road.
  • Carry a good pair of comfortable and sturdy shoes. If you want to explore McLeod Ganj, you would need them more than anything else.
  • If you are finicky about food or if you are not among those who boast of a stomach made of tungsten, do not worry. There are a number of tiny Tibetan joints where you can enjoy a big bowl of steaming and healthy stew at any time of the day.
  • If you decide to go for a trek up the Triund, make sure you carry some indispensable items- a torch, some energy bars and a few bottles of energy drink or glucose. Otherwise it could be extremely tiring for first-timers and inexperienced travelers.

Triund Trekking_edit

The Oldest Chai Shop Magic View Cafe

  • If you love to shop, make sure you spend your moolah on something unique that you know you won’t find elsewhere. Because most of the things that you see there are available in Delhi at a much cheaper price. It’s good to be a little cautious while shopping in McLeod Ganj unless, of course, you know the secret location of a buried treasure.

So, keeping everything in mind, do make McLeod Ganj a part of your bucket-list. It would be one thing you will cherish for a long time.

Note: This article is from my Yahoo Contributor Network profile. It was published on Yahoo!Voices. Since the network is no longer active, the articles have been posted here.

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