Are you postponing your holiday for quite sometime because your budget and the perfect destination aren’t going hand-in-hand? Well, get ready to pack your bags because the location we are going to talk about is sure to make you say: “That’s one helluva journey to the Himalayan wonderland!”
McLeod Ganj, located in the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, is the most sought-after destination by Indians and foreigners alike. While some come here to pump up their adrenaline by undertaking some of the most breathtaking treks, others simply come here looking for peace and tranquility. Clean roads, mouth-watering momos and Tibetan food, trekking trails filled with greenery, and pleasant weather conditions are some of the best terms of McLeod Ganj experience. Also known as Little Lhasa among the locals, the quaint town is a perfect place to witness the flawless blend of Indian and Tibetian cultures with some British influence. The place is also the home of Tibetian spiritual leader Dalai Lama. Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj, Bhagsu Nag and Kangra towns are situated very close to each other, thus giving the perfect magical experience for peace-seekers and adventure junkies.
Top 5 places to visit in McLeod Ganj
Triund trek is the most important part of the McLeod Ganj visit. The one-way trek takes about four hours from Galu Devi temple. One can reach Galu Devi temple via cab or walk for two hours from the town. There are numerous small teashops throughout the trail. The easy-to-moderate trek, 10 km one-way, offers panoramic views of Bhagsu village, McLeod Ganj town, Dharamsala valley, Shivalik hills and plains of Kangra valley. One can continue the trek and go up to the snowline and further towards Indrahar Pass. After snowline, the route gets steep and one is advised to tag along with a local guide to go to Indrahar Pass.
The 8th century rock-cut temple is a must-visit place near McLeod Ganj in the Kangra Valley. There are temples inside dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Suras and Devis. The temples were carved out of a monolith rock. Though earthquakes have damaged the temple complex to an extent, the rocky structure still stands tall and attracts large number of tourists.
The majestic waterfall is located about 6 kms from the town and one can easily walk to the falls. It is one of the main tourist attractions and is known for an old temple, fresh water spring and waterfall surrounded by stunning cliffs. Atop the falls lies Shiva Café, serving lip-smacking food.
St John’s Church
One-of-its-kinds Church, located in the wilderness, is set amid deodar forest. Built in neo-gothic architecture, the Church has a wonderful history about the British rule in India.
The art of not talking and staying calm and quiet till you hear your blood flow inside your body. So sounds challenging and interesting? You can take it up at Vipasana Centres across the town. Best part- most of them are free and you can take up some volunteer work if interested.
Monasteries and temples
Monasteries form a major part of McLeod Ganj and the most important one being Nechung Dorje Drayangling Monastery.
This spiritual location has an important place in Tibetan history and is often frequented by the Dalai Lama himself. You can quiet down your mind by meditating here for some time. Guna Devi temple dedicated to goddess Kali is the least known and explored location in the town. Located amid snow-clad mountains inside a thick jungle, not just the mystical significance, but also the view from the shrine makes this temple a must visit.
Kalachakra (Wheel of time) temple is located right next to the McLeod Ganj market and is easy to be missed. The temple is adorned with beautiful artwork and in the third floor one can see a beautiful large Buddha in blue hair, in the meditating posture. Bhagsu Nag temple dedicated to lord Shiva, located 3 kms from the McLeod Ganj, is highly revered by the Hindus and the Gorkha Community. The two pools inside the temple are believed to have healing properties. Another important thing to look out for is beautiful Thangaka paintings available for sale. The painting is one of its kinds and makes any wall look adorable with its presence. Tibetan Museum is worth a visit too.
Best time to visit
Weather is pleasant throughout the year and hence the place welcomes tourists all day, every day. Between December and February, the region experiences snowfall and it is one of the safest and scenic places to experience the annual snowfall. Heavy to very heavy rainfall can occur between August and October and hence many people avoid this season. Then again, enthusiatic rain-trekkers take this as a challenge to trek to Triund.
How to reach there
Closest airport is Delhi. From Delhi it is an overnight journey via bus to McLeod Ganj. Since it is a small town, within the city you can walk around the city or hire a two-wheeler. Cabs are priced on the higher side and cabbies mostly blame it on the terrain. So, suit yourself.
Where to stay
Most people in the region are kind and giving, and they ensure that your stay was as pleasant as the region itself. Pick your kind from the various options available – hill view and river view – and since you will be staying out mostly, choosing the one with basic amenities and lush-green views with minimal price should suffice. Since the region gets cold and chilly at night, you are advised to carry woolen clothes. Raincoats too will come handy as skies open unexpectedly here. Also, it must be noted that the region received second highest rainfall in the country. The region is safe for women, solo travelers and is mostly frequented by Delhites.