Named after Donald McLeod, Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, McLeodganj began life in the 1850s as a civilian settlement outside the British garrison of Dharamshala. It was devastated by the 1905 Kangra earthquake and sank into obscurity after Independence – until the Dalai Lama arrived to establish his base here in 1960. Since then, McLeod has become a vibrant centre of Tibetan culture and Buddhism. With an interesting mix of travellers, volunteers, maroon-robed monks and nuns, the international dharma crowd and an increasing flow of Indian tourists, you are never far from an interesting conversation here.
After moving to Delhi I got busy with a lot of things – settling down in a new place, wedding in the family, hunt for a new job, and finally a broken leg. So having finally done all of this, I decided to take a road trip to a hill station nearby. Memories of my last hill station visit to Ooty was still fresh in my mind and I was hoping to visit more hill stations. Hence Mcleodganj happened. We were there for a 3 nights – and had the most amazing time.
It is where India meets Tibet – Lonely Planet
Travel: We drove from Delhi (Gurgaon to be precise). Mcleodganj is over 500km from Delhi, and the last 70km towards from Dharamshala to Mcleodganj is hilly terrain with steep bends. After our Ooty trip we thought we were pros at handling hair pin bends, but the journey to Mcleodganj was a wake up call. The roads from Dharamshala to Mcleodganj are narrow and steep. So if you are planning on driving to Mcleodganj – start early and ensure that you arrive well before sunset.
Resort/Stay: The only resort in Mcleodganj is Fortune Park Moksha that costs 10 grands/night. So we decided to not splurge and stay at D’s Casa (D’s Castle or The Castle) on Club House Road. Small but comfortable property with 13 rooms – all airconditioned. The rooms were clean and had a small balcony looking into either the valley or the hills. I recommend booking Room No. 8… it has a nice view.
Activities: We dedicated one day to sight seeing local market, St. John’s Church, Dal Lake, Naddi View point and Dalai Lama Temple. We rented an auto that took us around. The next day we went to Bhagsunag Waterfall. The place is just 2km away from the main square. But the autos and taxis would refuse to take you there because of the sheer traffic congestion. I recommend packing some water and hiking to the place. The cafe at the top of the waterfall (a steep trek of 500m) is worth a visit. The most hyped activity when you are in Mcleodganj is the Triund trek that is some 9km one way. Unfortunately, I could not take up a walk so intense while I am still recovering from my broken foot. Paragliding and cycling at Dharamshala are other major attractions.
The trip to Mcleodganj was a serene and beautiful experience. Especially after all the changes that have happened in my life in the last 8 months, this was a welcome experience. It felt normal again to be able to do something that had become a routine. I hope to be able to blog more soon.