A trip to Mcleodganj will undoubtedly rekindle your soul. Lush greens, chilly breeze, magical misty roads, this place is every backpacker’s dream.
As soon as we got down from our bus from Delhi, I see men robed in reds and oranges, chanting so strong that it lend electric, tranquil vibes to the street. I see narrow lanes, small tea shops and stores, dolled with colorful bric-a-brac. So simple, rustic and enchanting- all at once.
Our itinerary was simple. Exciting, actually. We were going to trek till Snowline Cafe, come back and then spend a day-or-two, absorbing everything what Mcleod had to offer.
There are so many options to eat and stay getting confused is but natural. We were there, as well. You read something, then you contemplate and this cycle goes on. I write this, to help you lot. So here goes:
We traveled by bus serviced via HRTC. It was convenient, clean and on-time. I suggest, whatever option you take, go by something approved by the government. From the stand, we walked up, sipped some tea and then got a cab. You can choose to walk, if you know the place and not luggage-heavy.
This one was tricky. Since we were hiking, we wanted to be close the start point. So we stayed in this small village called Heini at Jagat Ram Niwas. Run by two brothers and Matthew, our stay was smooth. To reach here, we choose to take the route from Dharamkhot. The cab drops you at Cafe Heena from where it is a short walk, uphill. You cross old houses, cottages and a small paddy field. If lost, do ask the villagers- they are extremely helpful.
We reached our cozy, clean room within 15mins. The view from our attached verandah overlooked the whole valley which was so stunning. Trees studded with red-roofed houses, this place was so silent, you could literally hear a pin-drop. I absolutely needed that and that’s why recommend this place. Also unlike other places, there’s an all day kitchen where you can cook and drinking water is free of charge.The breakfast was included in the rent, but for dinner we had to pre-inform. We happen to meet Sarah, Rachael and Nik who were staying here for over 2 months learning yoga- something I wish to do one day.
It is a bit strict though – no noise after 10pm, food served at sharp 8, but it didn’t bother us. The folks here got us a guide and have all equipment for hiking as well. Speaking of which, our guide was well-knowledged and very supportive. This place because of easy booking, home-like atmosphere and food makes it top my list of places to stay.
For further details check them out here.
Once back from the hike, we checked-in at Holiday Hill at Jogiwara Road and is a short walk from the main market. The blankets were spotless, rooms smelled okay and the bathroom was clean. The owner is a Kashmiri and also manages the Pink House, nearby. Only difference is available car parking. Overall the stay was pleasant- just what you need from a heavy trek.
During our stay, we walked. A lot, in fact. Taking in the fresh Himalayan air, where no shop-keeper is forcing me to buy something, Mcleod is naturally so serene and magical. No wonder its Dalai Lama residence.
The highlights were many. But these topped my list
1. Trek to the Snowline cafe- I will be posting a blog about it soon
2. The food – we left no opportunity to sit down for a scrumptious meal. It is heaven folks, here my list of restaurants that are best in the area.
3. Massage at Holistic Massage Centre, Ladies Venture Hotel- after that crazy trek. we went here. Shammi and Suman were amazing. The place is so clean, aromatic and soothing. I literally dozed off when Suman with her skills tackled by knotty nerves. Treat yourself here, I assure your body is going to thank you.
4. Visit to the monastery- airy, beautiful, with cheerful monks, the buoyant atmosphere is infectious.
There is nothing like nature, a thought I have warmed up to. For someone who gets cranky while walking, I had a splendid time leaving behind footprints on Mcleodganj soil. The journey was self-resonating and I can’t wait to get back to the hills.
If there is anything you’d like to know, apart from what I wrote, drop a comment and I’ll be happy to help. Or if you travel here and put a picture, do #ltftraveldiaries so that I can go up there next time.
Until then, safe travels.