McLeod Ganj is tucked in the mighty Himalayas, in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh is an enticingly diverse state with some of India’s best hill stations and Mcleodganj is loved by all. It’s the home to Dalai Lama since his exile from Tibet as well as a thousand refugees from Tibet. It’s a must on every traveler’s bucket list. The easiest way to travel to this heavenly abode is by boarding an overnight bus from Delhi, also accessible by air, the nearest airport being in Kangra, 20km from McLeodganj. There are numerous accommodation options once you reach there. Face it, here are ten reasons why you can’t miss out on McLeodganj.
1. Scenic beauty: there’s something about hill stations, they might look alike to some extent but the feeling each one gives is totally different. If you’re lucky you might experience four seasons in a day or within a few hours, fog, rains, sun peering from behind the heavy clouds or bright sunlight. Get absorbed in the green paradise, breathing the fresh unpolluted air and soaking in the beauty.
2. Dalai Lama : His Holiness Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso is the spiritual leader of Tibet. Thousands of tourists travel to Mcleodganj only to meet Dalai Lama. If you’re lucky you might spot Dalai Lama walking down the cobbled streets of McLeodganj. Also, this can be one of the many reasons why people visit this place.You’ll find hundreds of monks, men and women walking around the town. Most of them are very friendly.
3. Trekking: There are numerous adventurous treks you can take from McLeod Ganj. The most famous being the Triund trek (I’ve been to McLeod Ganj thrice but haven’t got the courage to walk 20kms yet, so I’ve skipped this.) Then there is the trek to Snowline, if you want to go further from Triund, which is around 4kms. You can also hike to places like Dharamkot, Bhagsu, and explore the entire town by walking which gives you the touristy feel instead of taking cabs or auto rickshaws.
4. Café culture: This is what I love most about McLeod Ganj, the quaint cafes where I can catch up on all the pending reading and watch the monks (of both sexes) in tiny groups, the locals and tourists walk around the town when I look up from my book. Good food is not difficult to find, cafes like Moonpeak and Mandala are very popular among the tourists and the locals, also the friendly monks. It’s a must to try the scrumptious Himalayan thali in Moonpeak, also Tenthuk and pancakes in Cafe Mandala. While wandering about in Jogiwara Road we came across Illiterati, a cafe filled with a diverse range of books and overlooking the mighty mountains. Jimmy’s Kitchen and Nick’s Italian Kitchen are the best options for Italian cuisine!
5. Food, food and more food: Yes food! The food in most hill stations in India is incomplete without momos (dumplings) and Maggi. Maggi was banned but its back again and nothing like hot piping maggi up in the hills. You can’t miss the Himachali Thali in Moon Peak Cafe. We liked the food so much that we went back for breakfast too. If you have a sweet tooth like me head over to The Chocolate Log, this is a comfort zone for all dessert lovers. drop by in Jimmy’s Kitchen for Italian. You cannot miss Cafe Iliterati because it offers a great view accompanied with books that you can buy or simply read while enjoy the delicious food.
6. Shiva cafe and Bhagsu : Bhagsu is 2 kms from Mcleodganj and autorickshaws and taxis are easily available. Some people hike up to Bhagsu too which is not a bad idea. The Shiva temple is the main attraction in Bhagsu. Apart from the temple there is a 30 feet waterfall which is located in Bhagsunag village. It is around 1km from the temple and the only option to reach the waterfall is by walking. Shiva cafe is close to Bhagsunag waterfall and it definitely worth it to pay a visit. It is steep hike but you will not regret it. The tranquil environment and the sound of the flowing rivulet is an experience you will remember for long.
7. Short term courses and Volunteering: McLeod Ganj offers pretty much every cool course you can think of, starting from Yoga classes to cooking classes. It’s never a bad idea to enroll yourself in one of these classes. Also, it’s not very difficult to find these courses as you’ll see posters of various courses stuck on most walls in the town. Volunteering in one of the schools is very popular among the local and foreign tourists, which forms a basis for culture exchange.
8. Shopping : Mcleodganj’s local street shops are a great place to pick up souvenirs for your family and friends. In addition to wooden masks, beads, wool carpets, Tibetan books, meditation music and herbal incense, you can also find rare artefacts and Tibetans books. Keep in mind bargaining can save a lot of your money. You must visit the shop inside The Norbulingka Institute too.
9. Dal lake and Naddi point : Yes you read it right, Dal Lake is a small mid-altitude lake 1,775 m above sea level, near a beautiful village “Tota Rani”. The lake is surrounded by deodar trees which makes it even more scenic. The lake has greenish water almost throughout the year. It is considered sacred as there is a Shiva temple on its bank. Naddi view point is the top point of Mcleodganj and famous for the stunning sunrise and sunset views. The view is mesmerising from Naddi point. Make sure you go on a nice and sunny day to get the scenic view of the mountains. The day we went on our last trip it was very cloudy but I have been there a lot of times.
10. A Perfect Place to Unwind : City life gets mundane once in a while and we always have options to visit so many hill stations, Mcleodganj being one of them. Pack your bags and spend the weekend at this beautiful place and simply unwind.
Hope you loved this post. Follow me on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to stay connected with me and get detailed snippets of my travels.