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Dharamshala - Monasteries - Mcleodganj - Town of Bhagsunag - Water Falls

 

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Travelogue - Mcleodganj - 'Little Lhasa'

Visit To Dharamshala - Mcleodganj - Bhagsunag

By Nikki Utpaul, Contributing Traveller

 

I am a pahadi by heart, considering I have practically grown up in the mountains, going to Dhramshala, more so Mcleodganj was something that I wanted to do for the longest time and finally it happened. So we had every thing taken care off, transport, stay etc. We took the Volvo leaving for Dhramshala from ISBT Kashmere Gate sharp at 8:00 pm irony being it never left bang at 8 anyway. The excitement and the uncomfortable seats of the Volvo didn’t let me sleep at all through out, the almost twelve hour journey to Dhramshala.

It was 7:30 in the morning when we reached Dhramshala and the sun was shining bright as ever and kept us warm from the almost chilly winds. The mountains were inviting us with all its grandeur and glory, if I am allowed to put it like that. From Dhramshala we took a cab to go to our hotel in Bhagsunag which was another 9 km from Dharamshala by this time I had the biggest smile on my face because here I was home in the serenity of the great Himalayas. Really there is nothing like being far away from home yet at home.

The drive from Dharamshala to Bhagsunag suddenly got us to realize how we have another rich culture to explore in the next 5 days. On the way we saw little Tibetan kids playing and women dressed in traditional Tibetan attire and Monks everywhere. We had finally arrived in Dhramshala, The abode of his holiness The Dalai Lama. The pray wheel in the hands and the orange and maroon colored attired Monks were all over and had an extremely serene expression on their faces. People were not running to get work done; no one was getting hassled or was too busy to smile back at you. After a lot of research on Mcleodganj I really wanted to experience the life in this small city, rich in glory of its own kind. The Monks, People, Monasteries, the food, café’s etc. So after checking into the hotel we headed out to explore what was so special about this small place that invites people to come from all over the world and stay for months together.

Bhagsunag is a small town, 2 km away from Mcleodganj. On my way out I was greeted by an elderly man, which, lets face it never happens back in Delhi, was a nice, warm start to the trip. Bhagsunag or Bhagsu as more commonly known is well known for its temple and the waterfall. While you are there you can also visit the Vaishno Devi temple which has a small cave built within the premises of the temple and are the sign of the various cultural influences from all the tourists. On the walk to the Vaishno Devi temple (as the locals call it) you will come across at least 3 to 4 cafes which serve Italian, German, Israeli and continental food and play really good music.
Walk around and you find a lot massage parlors and meditation centers which offer courses for a period of time or just step into one of them to experience the massage itself or just buy stuff from the flee market near them.

Autos are a convenient transport available and they will take you pretty much everywhere. So we decided to take the auto the 1st day and go to see the Monastery of HH the Dalai Lama. This was the first time we were going inside the monastery ever and I was quite excited to see and feel the peace inside where the locals go and pray. I was dying to go and rotate the pray wheels myself and get as many blessings as I could. To my surprise we were told that HH the Dalai Lama was going to give sermons for the next 3 days and that explained why there were so many foreigners lined up and looking desperately to find a place and reserve it for the next 3 days. That got us very excited so we tore the map from the book we were carrying and borrowed a marker and put our names on it with all the commitment of showing up the next day (which BTW never happened). So feeling very excited and content with what we did and with sheer determination of attending the sermon we left the monastery.

Mcleodganj also known as “Little Lhasa” is an amalgamation of cultures. My first impression of the place was, is this really a small part of Himachal? You will find more foreigners than the locals. The small town is full of shops where you can find anything and everything. Walk into any art and craft shop and you would find a wide variety of Tibetan art. Be it paintings, musical bowls, idol of Lord Buddha or just stop at one of the flee shops and pick up Tibetan music or cloths. You can find silver and junk jewellery through out Mcleodganj. Be ready to hear atrocious prices and May I also add, the shop keepers do not believe in bargaining, but I would say, try your luck and charm you never know what might work.

The weather was another high point in the trip. Why, because even though it would rain off and on, it would never stop you from enjoying. Just before the rain you would see the huge mountains disappear in the clouds and it would seem like walking through the clouds, actually, it pretty much is. It’s the perfect time to find a café and sip on tea (ginger, garlic, honey tea may we recommend) and enjoy Mother Nature and may be chit chat with the locals or the tourist who BTW turn out to be quite informative about the place and various other things. The water fall in Bhagsunag was another walk that we enjoyed. It’s a steep walk for about 1.5 km and frankly not a good idea after the rain, so we decided to walk down and sit in the stream. It was 1 hour of absolute bliss and peace where the sound of the water made everything else fade away and the rays of the sun escaping the clouds made it look so beautiful that all I wanted was, for us to take it back home.

For me the five days, in Mcleodganj were home away from home. Sit at a café with friends, or take a walk, or simply view the beautiful valley which is easily visible from most of the road side cafes on the temple road. But Mcleodganj is an experience I n its own, one that I would go through again.

About Contributing Traveller : Nikki Utpaul is a Voice and Accent trainer. Nikki.Utpaul@evalueserve.com

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