PhotoBlog · Travel

Land of Lama

‘Land of lama’, ‘Mini Tibet’,’Little Lhasa’,’Mc Lo’is how  Mc Leod Ganj is known to people. Mc Lo is hardly 5 kms from Dharmshala, a hill station in kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh. It’s totally evident why the place gives the feel of Tibet. The shopkeepers, hotel staff, restaurant owners, street stuff sellers, cab drivers,monks everybody around here is Tibetan. The history goes something like this, in March 1959, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled to India after the failed uprising in 1959 in Tibet against the Communist Party of China. The Indian Government offered him refuge in Dharamshala, where he set up the Government of Tibet in exile in 1960, while McLeod Ganj became his official residence.Today, Mc leoad ganj and Dharmshala house thousands of Tibetans. (wiki info)Dalai lama is worshiped by every individual  and you can see the gratitude every Tibetan has towards him.

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common sight wherever you go in Mc Lo

We happened to go to Mc lo as trek to Triund starts from here. One of the main reasons why the hill station became so popular in recent times! It’s  a one day trek and some people prefer to camp for night  on the hill and few even go further to Indrahar pass. We will talk more about the trek in next post.

This was about trekkers and people longing for some extra ordinary experiences. Mc leod ganj has so much to offer for variety of people.I say this because the place is  a gourmand’s delight. If you plan to eat  and think of hanging out in a cafe all day ,then Mc lo is the place for you. The small town  is flooded with Italian cafe, Pizzerias,  authentic Tibetan restaurants, bakeries  and there is absolutely no dearth of places to chill out.

The other reason why it’s weekend gateway for Delhiites is  the accessibility from Delhi. Himachal tourism buses as well as many travels are easily available to take an overnight trip to and fro.

Mc leod ganj is known to be under budget trip category but I would say only if you plan in advance and are not going in peak season. We ended spending a lot on journey from Delhi-Mc Leod Ganj-Delhi as it was a last-minute plan.Still, it’s not too costly on food and accommodation front.

I loved the place and would recommend to go at least once for below few reasons.

People

I found Tibetans to be the most kind, helping and loving people and yes, very hardworking. There is something very spiritual and pure about these people. I cannot recall any experience to give you reference but you will get it what I am saying when you interact  with them.

The lady I will always remember was the hotel manager who allowed us to check in at 6 am in the morning by just saying  , ‘ Isn’t it a bit early ?’ and with a lovely smile. 😉

She also let us keep our extra luggage before going to trek and then  use hotel room after we came from trek to freshen up and relax for a while.  It might be a regular thing for her but it was a huge gesture for us 🙂 All this without taking or expecting an extra  single penny!

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The kind lady

Monastery

Leh was imprinted on my mind whenever I thought about monasteries until I had my first encounter with it in Mc Lo. There is huge monastery called as Tsuglagkhang or Tsuglag Khang which is also called as Dalai Lama temple. This campus also has Dalai lama’s residence.

The experience of visiting temple was much more celestial than I imagined. 100s of Buddhists  chant prayers completely unconcerned about any noise or presence around. I witnessed how much one can get closer to almighty !

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Monks in chanting room

There is a chanting room where 100s of monks chant in sync and the prayers are led by a senior monk ( I suppose). Also, there is an area outside the temple for other Buddhists to pray.

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The temple has statues of Shakyamuni, Avalokiteśvara, and a statue of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche). The monastery was beautiful, right from statues  to paintings to the wall prayers. One must experience tranquility at such places. It urges you to take a pause and go to another world.

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Wall painting
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Gautam Buddha
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Guru Rinpoche
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Avalokitesvara

There is temple called Namygyal monastery right in the middle of town.

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Namgyal Monastery

Shopping

You can not disregard shopping if you are in Mc Leod ganj. You may not buy anything because you need extra ordinary bargaining skills to do that, still window shopping is a fun in itself 😀

If you are keen on decorating or redecorating house, please plan your visit to Mc Lo. The alleys going to Dalai lama temple or road going to Bhagsu Nath waterfall has amazing shops of authentic Tibetan  handicrafts, exclusive art items and even jewelry. Silver studded  jewelry seems to be favorite among foreigners. Along with Tibetan stuff, the place has many shops of Kashmiri Art. The shawls, woolen wear, again handicrafts and jewelry. Just  brush up  your bargaining skills before you enter any shop 😉

Get a glimpse ❤

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Main square area at 8 am

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Last but not the least FOOD. We were in MC Lo for 2 days and went to almost all the talked about eateries.

Tibet Kitchen , right at the main square was our favorite. Also try Thukpa, vegetable  noodle soup in Green hotel. Nick’s Italian kitchen is among the popular places and has been featured even in Huffington post.  I would advice, take you pick, all the restaurants we went to were decent and reasonable. Just, eat local! Don’t miss Tibetan cuisine.

Don’t get confused if waiter gives  you pen and paper when you say you want to order. that’s a Mc lo style to order food. Write what and how much you want and then they will take it further. Interesting, right 🙂

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Get set order

Mc leod ganj  stands true for saying,’ the beauty lies in the eyes of beholder’.  What appealed me in Mc lo may not be fascinating for you. But I am sure , you will find some interesting stories to take back with you. This place will definitely turn you into a storyteller.

I tried to capture as much as I could but sometimes it’s better to shut everything and just sink in the things around. I wish I could capture the feelings 🙂

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A mural in hotel
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Afternoon siesta
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A tiny creature in front of grand deodars
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St John church, a 15 min walk from main square

I cannot complete my post without mentioning furry friends I met . These animals are extremely friendly and will let you  pet them as much you want.

What we missed?

We are a couple who would like to relax when on vacation. We do things on our pace and don’t run behind visiting every other site. We do end up missing few destinations but then to each his own! Here is a list of things we missed but heard was worth the visit.

  • Bhagsu Nath waterfall-  Visit shiva cafe near the waterfall for the same reason you would go to Kasol 😉
  • Norbulingka Institute – It is 15 km away from the town and an auto/cab can be easily hired to go. Norbulingka acts as a self-sustaining community focusing on preserving Tibetan culture. A Deden Tsuklagkhang temple can also be visited during the same tour. Find more about it  here .
  • Dal lake – Do visit this lake if you are seeking some peace and solitude. You can spend quite morning amidst deodar trees.

What you should not miss!

  • Do pay visit to Dalai Lama temple
  • Camping at Triund is highly recommended
  • Spend some time with locals
  • Gorge on Tibetan cuisine.

Mc Leod Ganj was certainly not a typical chilly Himachal hill station. At times it seemed a hippie place, most of the times it was  like being in Tibet. What remained intangible was  the warmth with which people interacted, the spiritual vibe in chants and feeling of being at home.

Would love to know about your experience 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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