Sunday, October 26, 2008

McLeod Ganj

I woke up at 5 in the morning. Mark, Jim, Ranj and yours truly crossed the Ram Jhula and reached the other side where we waited for a taxi that would take us to Himacahal Pradesh.
I beheld the Ganges as if to snatch a few precious last moments with her before parting.
I regret not having spent some more time in Rishikesh. I left Uttaranchal with a rather heavy heart.

After a long journey, we reached McLeod Ganj, 7 kilometers from Dharamshala. McLeod Ganj is the abode of the Dalai Lama. It’s a small town atop a hill with narrow winding roads.

A mini Tibet of sorts. Every street is flanked with Tibetan shops, Tibetan restaurants and shops selling Tibetan shawls, clothes, statues and other artifacts. You can spend the whole day just walking the colourful streets of McLeod Ganj. There are on display beautiful stoles made of intricate and colourful designs in almost every shop. I bought two of them. There are weird smelling Tibetan restaurants lining the streets. But let not their appearance or smell disconcert you. Take a look at the menu and you will find exotic dishes of many kinds. The desserts are awesome. I have never heard of some of them before. Do try Banofee Pie – it’s a combination of banana and toffee. It tastes different in different restaurants.
Keep trying until you think its awesome. If I ever go this place again, it will be for the food.
There are Tibetan people and many many foreigners everywhere dressed in freaky garments.

The only detestable thing is the traffic. Speeding bikes and huge cars on narrow winding lanes. Oh! Fie upon man!

There is a monastery and close to it is the residence of Dalai Lama.

Everywhere you will see posters of the Panchen Lama, the successor Dalai Lama, who has been abducted by the Chinese long ago. The Tibetans are hopeful that they will find him one day. I hope and pray they do.

There is a museum full of artifacts, depictions of stories, messages from the Lamas and pictures that seek to tell the tragic tale of Tibet and the cruelty of China. My heart goes out to them.

Close by are a few places for sight seeing but when you get there, you know its just hype.

Dal lake is nothing more than a small dirty pond where you find those swan shaped boats that people go boating in. The Devdar trees that skirt the pond were the only ones I cared for.

And then there is Naddi, a few kilometers from McLeod Ganj. It is a sunset point on a hilltop. Dal lake is on the way to Naddi.

This is a view from Naddi.

Sunset. It was a cloudy evening and my efforts to get here proved fruitless.

The next day, we went to Bhagsunag waterfall. It should be renamed disillusionment waterfall. It was nothing more than a narrow stream of water trickling down a mountain.

If you ever go to McLeod Ganj, take my advice, spend all your time there and do not waste time over the much hyped places around it.


Satish said...

Another place added to the To See List...

Hope u got see Dharmasala and the new cricket stadium built there. The photos of the cricket stadium are the only photos i have seen that of place and it is really beautiful....

Sowmya said...

We did not see Dharamshala...

I paid a short visit to Dharamshala as someone told there was a live performance by Gurudas Mann...

He never turned up :-( Some local people were performing instead... someone said the organizers spread false news about Gurudas mann's arrival just to attract the crowd :)

Satish said...

Double blow.... Missed Dharmasala as well as Gurudas Mann's performance..

you have visited Dharmasala( Tibetian government in exile resides here).... hopefully someday you get to see Potala Palace in Lhasa.... the journey would be complete


wow...what a beautiful place. I have to see this place. Thanks for the pics & and the handy information.