Mcleod Ganj is a small and pretty town located in Dharamshala! They say it has lost its charm in recent years; the weather is not as great as it used to be and commercialization of the town has taken a toll on the natural beauty and scenery it once boasted of. For me, it was still one of the prettiest locations on the trip! In my recent backpacking trip to Himachal Pradesh with The Land Out There, it was the first place that we hit. Views of the snow-clad mountains of the Himalayan ranges and walking on pavements along the deep valleys is what our two-day stay in this town consisted of.
Our 11-day trip had an itinerary that started and ended at Delhi. We reached Mcleod Ganj at about 9.30 am and walked to our guest house, Ladies Venture. The town is literary located on a hill so all roads are like pavements which are uphill and downhill. They give it a raw and home-like feeling. Ladies Venture is one of the nice places to stay at in this town. Service is good, rooms are clean and almost all of them have an overlooking view of the snow-clad mountains, making it a happy place! There is a terrace too which is accessible to all visitors and gets quite chilly in the evenings. The best part about the guest house is that it is located centrally, making it a walk away from everything, right from ATMs to wine shops and markets to roadside momo sellers.
We first headed out for breakfast to Café Tibet which was right across our guest house. Try the hot chocolate and pancakes! Hot chocolate is filling and the pancake is very heavy too so make sure you share. Once our tummies were happy we hit the markets. What a happy vibe it was! The little town peaks at you with happiness, humbly showing its face amidst the Himalayan ranges it is surrounded by. More than happiness, there is content in their hearts! Everyone is satisfied with what they have and do.
A homeless-looking guy in a Bob Marley t-shirt smoking pot has a tiny shop of second hand stuff set up at one of the corners and he is willing to give away the stuff for whatever price you are ready to offer, but he is happy! A Tibetan woman has laid out her shop of warm clothes and sells beautiful shawls made of pure yak wool for a mere 400 bucks, as she sits on one side and knits her next beanie. She is also happy! And a young waiter at a Tibetan restaurant greets you politely as he serves you with the best momos at very cheap rates, and he is also happy! Who wouldn’t want to live in a place like that?
We soaked in the beautiful vibe as we picked up artifacts and Ladakhi flags as souvenirs and tried our hands at singing bowls. Singing bowls are special metallic bowls used by the monks during meditation. The bowl comes with a stick and creates a deep, soothing sound when the stick is rotationally rubbed along the edges of the bowl. It helps build concentration during prayers. I cannot say that any of us really mastered the art, but for the ones who could even create a beginner level sound, it was fun!
Next, we tried an interesting preparation, which falls under the category of street food in Mcleod Ganj and is Tibetan in origin. Yes! Isn’t it lovely how they also have street food? The dish is called Laping (pronounced as Lah-Phing) and consists of flat noodles, soya chunks, soup and a red chutney. It is served in a bowl and is available on the streets for a mere 30 bucks! It’s healthy, delicious and most of all, it’s the local food, which you will not find anywhere else so make sure you try it!
An interesting beverage we tried with our Banana and Chocolate Pancake at Peace Restaurant was Butter Tea! This is a specialty of the place too so I’d say you must try it. Don’t have high expectations though (it’s not butterbeer from Harry Potter). It is literally butter mixed with tea with a pinch of salt. It wasn’t exactly bad and complemented the sweet taste of our pancake but I wouldn’t order it again. The waiter who served the tea to us warned us about how it would contain salt and advised us to add some sugar to it before taking the first sip. How sweet is that! Can I find a boy here and settle down already?
More about our next day there and some beautiful people and conversations we got to have in the next blog post!
For more information about budget trips to Himachal Pradesh and other destinations visit: www.thelandoutthere.com