With summer in full swing, even a quick weekend getaway into the mountains can prove satisfying. For those of you living in the north, the famed Mcleodganj is always an obvious choice. No, don’t roll your eyes; this is not just another travel article trying to convince you to see an overdone town. Mcleoad I’m here to help you visit a mainstream destination and yet have a unique experience. Here’s how you can see an unseen side of Mcleodganj!
Take the road not taken:
While popular tourist spots in Mcleodganj like Dalai Lama Temple, Triund and main market are famous for good reason, here are the lesser-known places you should add to your list.
1.) Tse Chokling Monastery
Located below the main market, Tse Chokling Monastery is a must visit. Tucked amid a forest, this monastery is not visited by Indian tourists but often frequented by foreign tourists. The monastery grounds are beautiful, well tended to and the entire area reverberates with peace and tranquillity. The monastery temple in itself is a gem that you must explore. Do pray and meditate in its temple. Speak to a monk, and he will be happy to tell you the monastery’s history and the significance of various statues and paintings within.
Tip: The monastery also offers accommodation. Stay here if you want to experience living in a monastery.
2.) Sunset Cafe
This is an extremely tiny but cosy cafe that is located close to Gallu Temple (on the way to Triund). The cafe is located in the middle of a jungle and overlooks densely covered mountains of Mcleod, Dharamshala and Naddi. As the name suggests, it is the best spot in Mcleod to spot a gorgeous sunset. Sit outside, sipping on fresh mango shake, slurping hot Maggi and watching the day fade into a riot of colours.
Tip: You can even hike beyond this point (during the day) and visit the Hidden Waterfall
While Triund is a trek that you must have surely taken, (or want to avoid because of a weekend rush), you can go up till Snowline. A medium-difficult trek, snowline lies a 2-hour journey away from Triund. It is closer to the Dhauladhar range, it is much colder, and there’s nothing apart from a snowline cafe. You’ve to pitch your own tent whereas food will be available.
Tip: Please do not head to Snowline without discussing the weather conditions with the locals in Triund. They will tell you whether it is safe to visit Snowline or not.
4.) Tushita Meditation Centre
If you’re even mildly interested in Buddhism or meditation, you must step into Tushita for walk-in morning meditation sessions. These sessions involve a teacher who will take you through a guided meditation and lecture you on the tenets of Buddhism. Tushita also has numerous courses on meditation that you can enrol for beforehand. Ranging from 3-10 day courses, these courses will introduce you to the spiritual side of life.
Tip: Registrations for courses begin months before and get sold out very quickly, so check out their website before you visit.
5.) Vipassana Centre
Considered as one of the most intense meditation practices, Vipassana involves concentration on the body and its sensation. It is typically a 10-12 day retreat where you will be undertaking more than 8 hours of meditation. Students are not allowed to exit the centre, speak with anyone or even make eye contact with others. Tip: Vipassana is recommended only if you feel you are truly ready for it – don’t enrol for it on a whim.
Undertake a gastronomic adventure
The best way to experience the culture of a place is by trying its food and cuisines. With people flocking in from all parts of the world, Mcleodganj’s food scene is very cosmopolitan in nature! So visit these exclusive eateries and try different cuisines.
1.) Bodhi Greens
This is a pure vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free restaurant that serves lip-smacking food and drinks. From smoothies to soups, wraps and fruit bowls, you will find it all right here. You will realise that you can stay here for longer. You would be surprised at how amazing healthy food can taste. Located in Upper Bhagsu, Bodhi Greens has a laid back ambience. Interact with Israeli tourists who frequent the cafe, learn some recipes yourself or quietly sit in a corner and read a book.
Tip: Try their Himachali dal, a delicacy that you’ll love.
2.) Cafe Ri
This is a cute and snug Korean Cafe from where one can spot Mun Peak. Done up in bamboo decoratives, Cafe Ri’s ambience is all about warmth and homeliness. At Ri, you will find authentic Korean food. They also have exotic herbal teas on offer that can make for interesting souvenirs.
Tip: Have a hot bowl of Ramen.
3.) Morgan’s Place
Situated in Dharamkot, Morgan’s pizza is undoubtedly the best in town. Perched on top of a mountain, this cafe offers a gorgeous view that will leave you spellbound. Their specialities include freshly brewed coffee, barbecues, pasta, Israeli food and of course, wood fire oven pizzas!
Tip: Hike from Mcleodganj to Dharamkot to build up an appetite for this cafe!
Add meaning to your travels:
Especially if you are a college-going student, you must make use of the various volunteering opportunities in Mcleodganj. Stay here for a fortnight and make a difference during your vacation.
1.) Tibet World
Mcleodganj is home to about 20,000 Tibetans living in exile. Tibet World is a platform that offers education and imparts Tibetan values. As of now, 230 Tibetans run classes five days per week. You can volunteer here as an editor, writer, photographer, administrator and several other positions!
You can register as a volunteer on their website here.
You can register as a volunteer on their website here.
2.) Lha Charitable Trust
Lha is an NGO that aims to empower Tibetan refugees, the local community and people hailing from the Himalayan region. Offering educational, social services, Lha plays a vital role in making exile for Tibetans a smoother process. The trust organises cultural exchanges to allow free-flowing communication between Tibetans and volunteers who hail from all around the world. You can register to volunteer for various positions in departments such as social media, marketing, teaching (multiple languages), finance, fundraising and project management.