Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh is the perfect escape for anyone who is looking to get out of the sweltering heat, that engulfs India during the Summer Months. Dharamshala is famous for many quaint villages and towns that serve as the perfect retreat for people who are looking to take a break from life. McLeod Ganj is one such picturesque town. Located at the foothills of the Dhauladhar range (it is a part of the Himalayan Range), it also serves as the holy residing place for The Dalai Lama.
McLeodGanj is one of the few places in the world that is still untouched by the corrupted hands of human beings. It is serene and pure. The forest that covers the region extensively is protected by the Forest Act. Several different kinds of flora and fauna can be found here. Rhododendron and deodar trees are most commonly found in this region.
McLeod Ganj has located about 500 km from Delhi, making it one of the best places to visit during the hot Delhi summers. From Delhi to McLeod Ganj, there are a lot of restaurants and authentic dhabbas, making sure that food is not a problem. The highway road as well but and smooth, but once one reaches the mountains the pace is bound to slow down.
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The town of McLeod Ganj is full of small houses which is reminiscent of other hill stations. Yet, this place has something different than other hill stations lack. It has a kind of charm or an aura that can magically heal anyone who steps into its periphery. The air is so light and clean that one feel energised the moment they inhale this air. The blue sky is a fitting background for the white clouds that float around.
McLeod Ganj is unlike any town in India. It is full of foreigners- especially backpackers and the walls have colourful graffitis about Tibet- reminding everybody of the fact that many Tibetan refugees found solace here during tough times. As of today, this town is lined with multicultural cafes and restaurants- Italian, rooftop, Indian, Chinese etc. One can find Tibetan handicrafts and designs being sold in every shop- making it a shopper’s paradise.
McLeod Ganj can be easily covered and enjoyed in two to three days.
Namgyal Monastery is one of the most famous places to visit when one goes to McLeod Ganj, for a simple fact that His Holiness The Dalai Lama stays here. This is his abode, and tourists are free to look at it. It is one of the calmest and most serene places to beat. The reverberating silence and the spine chilling purity engulfs the mind and the body alike.
The monastery is structured like every other monastery in India. There is a small balcony at the top which is the perfect place to just sit and sway at the brilliant nature that unfolds before the eyes. The breeze itself comes with a conviction that touches every single person that steps foot into the monastery. It is truly an out of body experience.
During the colonial times, the Britishers had chosen a few hill stations that were meant to be their winter homes. McLeod Ganj was one of the chosen towns. Owing to the British influence, the town still bears signs of the colonial times. One can still find the grand Victorian architecture that lines up the streets. Walking around the streets lined with colonial buildings, it almost feels like the clock has turned back its hands, and suddenly one has reached the British era in India.
Round the corner at the heart of the main square, is one of the most fascinating building is the Nowrojee & Sons General Store. It used to be a general supply store for the British. Now, this little shop has artefacts on display that have a story of their own.
This waterfall is located at the Bhagsu village in McLeod Ganj. The rush of the water is so enchanting that everybody falls in love with the sound of the water. The waterfall is about 20 metres high It is surrounded by green fields and brown mountains. One can also venture out and bathe in this pure water, or just simply admire it and take pictures of God’s another miraculous gift to India. It is also the perfect place to just lay down and have a family picnic. The area also has some nice cafes.
Located at the inner regions of McLeod Ganj, this church is almost missed by every tourist. It is hidden by huge trees which makes it hard to locate. Yet, this one is a must visit. The church itself is an epitome of tranquillity. As one walks through the forest and onto the path, the church is slowly revealed. All the windows are painted wonderfully, and the sunlight burst into a thousand colours as it comes through the multicoloured windows and onto the floors. The windows were specially brought from Belgium about 150 years ago.
Indrahar Pass is known for its trekking trail. The trail is lined with amazing floral diversity and the Himalayas as a background makes the trail a sight for the sore eyes. If one gets tired as they climb 4,342 meters, then one can certainly rest and marvel at one of the most breathtaking views that lie in front.
McLeod Ganj has some extremely good cafes that one can feast at, or simply just sit and sip a glass of chai at.
Cafe Tibet is one of the most famous cafes in McLeod Ganj. A testimony to the Tibetan settlements, the cute cafe serves one of the best homes made breads and omelette, which goes perfectly with a special tea that this cafe offers.
Illiterate Cafe is touted to be the best cafe in McLeod Ganj. As one enters this pretty cafe, one can already feel why it is the best. The cafe has a small balcony which has one of the most perfect views of the snow-capped Himalayas. It is not every day that one can enjoy delicious food while looking at the Himalayas. The experience is to die for and a must.
The Woeser Bakery has one of the most excellent coffee, cakes and other baked foods. Jogiwara road is most famous for its ever so cute cafes, where one can just relax and reflect. The cafes have a typical led back ambience, and one can just sit for hours and hours.
McLeod Ganj is just a relaxing place that is filled with so much culture and history. It has several museums that have a great collection of Tibetan history that is related to McLeod Ganj. McLeod is a town that makes you want to come back. The best way to go around here is by cabs, tuk-tuks or public buses. The best time to visit McLeod Ganj is during the winter season from October to February and during the summer season from March to June.
So go ahead and pack up your bags to explore a town that just makes you wanting for more.