Friday, December 23, 2016

A Trip to Himachal - Part 2 - McLeod Ganj

Second Destination: McLeod Ganj

How we reached there:

Khajjiar -> McLeod Ganj (via Jot, Chowari, Dharamshala) : Hired Taxi, takes 4.5 hours
McLeod Ganj -> Amritsar -> Pathankot : Hired Taxi, takes 5 hours to Amritsar and 2 hours to Pathankot from there

Places to stay:

There are number of options available on oyoroomsmakemytrip and goibibo as well on HPTDC. You’ll get good home-stay as well. Prefer hotels near main square. We stayed in Hotel Castle (through oyorooms), near on Bhagsu Road.

Places to eat ( esp vegetarian ):

McLeod Ganj has a range of food options for Tibetan, Italian and Indian food. Some of our favourites are:
  • Nick’s Italian Kitchen
  • Hotel Tibet
  • Chocolate Log
  • Spring Valley Restaurant
        Needless to say that one must try momos in this part of the World, and apart from restaurants, there are road-side eateries offering good momos.

        Places to visit:

        From nature to history to religion to cricket, McLeod Ganj and Dharamshala has everything one can ask for.

        • Namgyal Monastery/Dalai Lama Temple and Tibetan Museum
        • McLeod Ganj is an official residence of His Holiness Dalai Lama and a headquarter of Tibetan government in exile. Dalai Lama stays at Namgyal monastery which is a must visit place. This buddhist monastery has spiritual aura that brings instant calmness.  Chants of 'Om Mani Padme Hung' and Prayer wheels are essential parts of this unique experience.

          There is also Tibetan museum within the temple premises, highlighting struggles of Tibetan people and their migration from Lhasa to India. 

        • Norbulingka Institute
        • Located near Dharamshala, this institute is named after Norbulingka, the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lamas, in Lhasa, Tibet. It is aimed to preserve Tibetan tradition and provide training, education and employment to Tibetans. You can see Tibetan metal art, drawings and other artistic forms in action here. Losel Doll Museum is quite interesting. There is a souvenir shop to collect memories. And while you are at it, do try ginger lemon honey tea!
        • Bhagsunag Waterfall
        • Earlier morning visit to Bhagsunag Temple, trek to Bhagsunag waterfall and visit to Shiva cafe is another important thing to do while you are in McLeod Ganj. Bhagsunag Shiv Temple is located near the taxi stand on Bhagsunag road. Everything is anyway at a walking distance in McLeod Ganj. It's a 1.5 km trek to the waterfall from the temple, normally takes 30 mins. The trek is scenic, and the waterfall is chilly. Then you trek further up to Shiva cafe. It provides a nice view to the valley on one side, and Triund mountain on the other. Cafe provides variety of food option if you are tired after the trek.
        • HPCA Stadium
        • This famous Dharamshala cricket stadium is a sight to visit. Surrounded by mountains, it is one of most scenic cricket stadium around the world. Entry is free when there are no matches and you can go up to visitor's gallery.
        • Kangra war memorial
        • This is one of the location that our cab driver took us to while roaming around in Dharamshala. This war memorial is built in the memories of the martyrs of Kangra valley.
        Apart from these places, walks on the streets from main square to monastery are a must once you are in McLeod Ganj. Slope adds much fun to those evening walks. Located on both sides of the streets are various shops to satisfy your shopping urge. And don't miss the sunset from there!

        HPCA Stadium

        Bhagsunag Waterfall

        Shiva Cafe

        What next?

        After a three day stay at McLeod Ganj, we went to Amritsar, which is a 4.5 hrs drive from here, during our return journey. I had already covered Amritsar in my earlier post, but the location has changed significantly in these 7 years. We spent the afternoon at the Golden Temple and enjoyed food @ langar. Next we went to Jallianwala Bagh, the famous historic place, adjacent to the temple. We did go to Delhi after this, but could only cover Rajghat, Humayun's Tomb and Qutub Minar before our return flight to Pune.

        Humayun's Tomb

        A Trip to Himachal - Part 1 - Khajjiar

        How we reached there:

        Pune -> Pathannkot : Train journey via Jelum Express, takes 38 hours
        Pathankot -> Khajjiar (via Dalhousie) : Hired Taxi, takes 4 hours, keep the stomach empty as it will be a roller-coster hill-side ride

        Places to stay:

        Khajjiar - Hotel Devdar, a part of HPTDC hotels, provides the best possible location for this place. Apart from this, there are other options like Mini-Swiss facing other side of mountain.

        Places to eat ( esp vegetarian food ):

        • Hotel Iravati in Chamba has wonderful dishes of Gucchi (a kind of Mushroom) and Chamba Kadhi.
        • Street-side food options, esp Parathas, are quite good in this part of the region

        So after a continuous journey of close to 43 hours, we finally reached our HPTDC Hotel Devdar in Khajjiar during the early part of noon. The lush green meadows in front of us instantly removed all the tiredness. Khajjiar is a very tiny hill station of Himachal, sometimes referred to as a Switzerland of India. It has a centrally located small lake, and surrounding meadows on slope all around. It is surrounded by trees and mountains from all side making it picture-perfect. There is a Khajjiar Nag temple, based on which this place is named ‘Khajjiar’. There are small treks all around, and morning walk towards other side to see sunset is worth the efforts. There is also a vaishnodevi temple at a walking distance, with huge Shiva statue.

        Things to do:

        During day time, the meadow is full of activities with tourists coming there from near-by places. Horse-riding is quite common. Grass and slope offers sports like Zorbing, which is a must try. One can also do paragliding on the other side of the mountain.

        Nearby Places:

        • Chamba: At 22 km distance from Khajjiar, Chamba is located along the river Ravi. Laxmi Narayan Temple is a must visit place there. There is also a Bhuri Singh Museum to know a bit of history of the place. If you are lucky, may get to see cricket match in the central Chamba ground!
        • Dalhousie: Dalhousie is yet another hilltop tourist place, with Tibetan market and a lot of street shopping. There is a wildlife sanctuary, Kala Top, on the way to Dalhousie. This road also takes you along multiple hillside schools.

        (Part 2 will take you to McLeod Ganj and ahead)

        Unleashing the Power of AI Tools: From Learning Languages to Optimizing Code

        In the last 18 months, my journey with AI tools like ChatGPT, Bing/GitHub Copilot, Microsoft Designer, and others has transformed from casua...