By Bhavita Kukreja:
Until some years ago, not many people knew about McLeodganj which is a suburb of Dharamshala. It is a beautiful hill station which is 9 kilometres away from Dharamshala in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. It is apparently not like any other hill station in India because it is one place which has an environment of its own. McLeodganj is a popular tourist destination especially amongst foreigners who like to stay there for a long period of time in peaceful coexistence with Mother Nature. The population of this small hill station mainly comprises the Tibetan refugees and the Tibetan government-in-exile has its headquarters here. It is a place where one can enjoy and relax in the soothing environment of the magnificent Himalayas.
The most popular place to visit in the area is the Dalai Lama Temple. The walking stretch from the Central Point or Chowk to the temple is an enriching one. It is only a kilometre or two that one has to walk down and as we walk along the stretch there is a flea market where the Tibetan refugees put up stalls. Shopping there is a lot of fun as you have a wonderful array of items on display, from jewellery to brass art pieces to Tibetan music CDs – basically everything that one can think of. The Tibetan Emporium is also a must visit for its beautiful handicrafts. One absolutely has to try on the traditional Tibetan dresses that the local women wear. They are elegant and beautiful to look at in their vibrant colours, prints and designs.
We do get all varieties of food in McLeodganj but a must is the local Tibetan food as it is healthy yet tempting. Although there are restaurants offering Italian and North Indian fare, Tibetan food, with its momos and thukpas, is simply irresistible. The weather is pleasant and can be enjoyed while sipping on to hot coffee and gorging on delicious breakfast in several cafes lining the place. The light rains and the mild wind make the experience out of the world.
You have to visit the Dal Lake if you are in McLeodganj as it is a short walk from the main market. It maintains a sense of tranquillity and is surrounded by the lush Deodar forests, thus captivating you with its charm. It is believed that by taking a dip in the holy water of the lake one is freed from all their miseries, so you know exactly what you need to do.
The Bhagsu falls are breathtakingly beautiful and are located about 2 kilometres away from McLeodganj. They make for a nice picnic spot amidst the grand Himalayas. The fall is easily reachable by taxi, auto, or you can even trek to the place while enjoying the beauty you are surrounded by. Around half a kilometre away from the waterfall is the Bhagsunath temple many devotees throng to visit every day when they visit the falls.
Overall, the experience was enlightening and I have to say that McLeodganj is a must visit for all those who have not been there yet. I can assure you that you will not have any regrets and once you go there, you will definitely not want to leave. It is one place that will mesmerize you, soothe you, and keep you coming back for more.