As the first article, I wanted to write about a place that holds a very special corner in my heart. Special enough that I may just even settle down in this beautiful townlet if given a chance – Mcleodganj.
Tucked in the lap of the Dhauladhars, McLeodganj is the official adobe of Tibetan spiritual guru, Dalai Lama. With a crown of the mighty mountains and the garland of plains resting at its feet, McLeodganj had me weak in the knees the very first time I visited the place 5 years ago. I fell so much in love with it that it became a default weekend getaway for me (Like that one place you go to when you don’t have the time and energy to plan a vacation somewhere new). It is my staple, basically.
Right now, I can count 8 different trips that I have taken to the town over the past 5 years (I’m sure the count is a bit more – my memory may be hazy!). (Even if you are average at mathematics like I am, you can figure out that this comes down to a minimum of one trip per year). I’ve witnessed it all – be it the McLeodganj spring, McLeodganj summer, McLeodganj winter and yes, even the monsoon. It is still not enough for me. I think by the end of this article, I may just book a bus ticket to the place for the next weekend ( I MAY HAVE ALREADY DONE THAT).
**Bottom line: I love it. Absolutely love it.**
What is so special about this little Himalayan town? Let me walk you through that (It may take a few rewinds).
The First Trip
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The first time that I visited McLeodganj was back in July 2013. It was a post (after) graduation trip. Also, that was the first ever trip with friends (a lot of firsts). Since the monsoon had just kicked in, it was one of the best times of the year to visit (I certainly don’t recommend travelling to the mountains during monsoons but you can always go for a short break in late June-early July; after checking the weather forecast of course). Picture this: Narrow Himalayan bazaars enveloped in a blanket of clouds, a cuppa of tea, a steaming plate of Maggi and you. Isn’t that your idea of a satisfying mountain vacation?
The Most Memorable One
The most memorable and major trip to McLeodganj happened in the summer of 2015. So this trip was a self-driven road trip with my best friend. It was big! The idea of only two girls driving all the way from Chandigarh to McLeodganj – it was quite fascinating at that time.
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Strolling through the streets of Mcleodganj during the wee hours of the morning. This caught my eye! #mcleodganj #himachalpictures #graffiti #wallart #instatravel #animallover #traveljunkie #traveller #wanderlust #girlswhotravel #ourplanetdaily #lpi #natgeo #loneyplanetindia #artofvisuals #peta #adoptdontshop #mcleodganj #dharamshala
We started at about 6 AM in the morning, took a few stops and reached our destination at about 12 PM. The trip has a very special place for itself in my life. This one happened when I was going through a major turmoil in my life. It came and turned a fresh leaf for me and just changed everything. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this was ‘the trip’ (so far).
We spent an entire week exploring McLeodganj, eating the best food, unwinding and introspecting.
And Then the Trek Happened
It was during the third or the fourth trip that the famous Triund trek happened (You see I wanted to keep reasons handy for visiting McLeodganj again and again). I’m not really a trek person so this was one of the firsts (again). I can really do this trek over and over again for the reasons that it is an easy one and offers some of the most beautiful sights of all times. I’ll walk you through the details in an article dedicated to the A to Z of the Triund trek soon.
In addition to these three, there have been a couple of more trips, mostly unplanned ones (that’s not how I like to travel mostly).
Some of the Many Reasons
So far, in case you haven’t decoded all the cryptic reasons why I love McLeodganj, the following are some details:
Food: I’m a big-time food lover (BIG TIME). McLeodganj is a foodie’s paradise! Name it and you’ll get it. Whether you love Italian, Chinese, Tibetan, Continental, Indian – any cuisine. You get it all here and mind it, it is just the best you will have. (Don’t forget to go through the next article that is going to be all about food in Mcleodganj).
Accessibility: Mcleodganj is easily accessible from Delhi, Jammu and Chandigarh, which makes it a weekend go-to. The terrain isn’t rocky or dangerous so driving is really a piece of cake even if you only have a little experience driving in the mountains. Also, there are regular bus services that you can use. For my traveller friends from Mumbai and far by cities, air travel is also an option as the closest airport is just a few kilometres away from Mcleodganj, in Gaggal.
A Huge List of Things to Do: Whether you want to go trekking, attend a meditation class or just relax, you have so many things to do here. I mean you can spend a month (even more) here and still not get bored.
The Beauty: Let me put it like this: Mcleodganj happens to be one of the most beautiful naturally planned places. You have lofty peaks overlooking the town, a stunning waterfall adding to the charm, and a garland of plains kissing its feet. Then you get these small picturesque villages, most of which are blessed with a small stream or a rivulet. Just sums up to be a gorgeous little town.
Safety: I cannot recall an instance when I felt unsafe here. No one really bothers you, even if you want to wander the streets a little late in the night. The market usually shuts down by 9 PM so there isn’t a lot, to sum up for the nightlife except for the moonlit mountains and twinkling sky.
If you are a first-timer, following are some recommendations (I’m not being paid for these so you can somewhat rely on the following):
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- I have an all-time favourite hotel when it comes to Mcleodganj – Pink House. This is one of the comfiest places to stay. They have a lovely rooftop cafe and spa where you can relax on days you don’t want to step out.
- Also, Zostel in Dharamkot is another terrific option.
- Other than these, I would recommend checking Mcleodganj Homestay and Kunga Guest House. There are a lot of other options to stay at in Dharamkot and Naddi as well.
Food: The list is simply TOO long. I’m listing a few:
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Food is a highlight for most of my trips. This one is from Woeser Bakery, Mcleodganj. Super small and basic, this bakery has one of best cakes in the town. Tried the Carrot Cake and Vegan Chocolate Cake; I was in heaven instantly. Here, you can pick from a variety of shakes, teas, coffees to go with your dessert. #hotchocolate #foodtrail #foodtales #instafood #foodporn #traveldiaries #mcleodganj #woeserbakery #foodfood #igfood #foodie #foodlover #cakes #yummy #foodgasm #foodheaven #roadtotaste #foodphoto #photooftheday #himachalpradesh #travel #wanderlust
- All-time favourites: Illiterati, Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen and The Clay Oven Restaurant
- Cakes & Coffee: Woeser Bakery and Lhamo’s Croissant
- Breakfast: Nik’s Italian and Four Seasons
- Late-night: Morgan’s Place
Things to do:
- Don’t miss the Triund trek at any cost.
- Spend an evening at the St. John’s Church.
- Take a day trip to Bir-Billing.
- Visit the Dalai Lama Temple and the Norbulingka Museum.
- Indulge in a plate of Maggi at the Bhagsu Nag waterfall.
- An afternoon walk to the Dal Lake is another must-do.
Whether you are going solo, with friends or family, Mcleodganj will not disappoint you. I hope you enjoyed reading this piece. I would love to hear your experiences too. Drop in your comments below. 🙂