I’ve realized, travelling isn’t just about exploring new lands, but much more. It’s not about where you go but about the simple fact that you are far away. Away from stress, worries, and those ghosts which never quit haunting you. It’s about socializing, about meeting new people, about having new food, about seeing the same world with different eyes.
A little city, located in northern Himachal Pradesh also known to be the home of Dalai Lama is everything but boring.
As a solo traveler it was a really good experience to visit a place full of Tibetan culture, peace and excitement. People visiting India, visit this place to get a glimpse of the Himalayan Range. Just a day’s trek ahead of Mcleodganj is Triund from where you can see the Dhauladhar range which is considered to be the footsteps of the Himalayas.
As I reached Mcleodganj (Dharamshala) I straightaway went to The Pink House, an economical accommodation with pretty decent facilities and a tremendous view of the Kangra valley and the mountains. The weather in Mcleodganj at arrival time was cloudy which later lead to heavy rainfall. My first solo trip marked full excitement which was somehow suppressed, being illogical to go out and see the town. The sky after the rain was as blue as it could get. The bright sun was throwing its light on the beautiful snow peaked Dhauladhar Range, making them sparkle like silver.
My first stop was the Gyuto Monastery for which the town is known, the home of His Holiness, the 14TH Dalai Lama. The monastery seemed to be a place of spiritual calmness and tranquillity for wavered souls. The monastery was on top of the hill, and it was re-established in India after the communist china invaded Tibet in 1959. It is the religious house for the monks to study tantric meditation, ritual arts and Buddhist philosophy.
After leaving the monastery I walked up to the Bhagsu Nag Temple and Waterfall, 2 km away from Mcleod Ganj. The Bhagsu Nag Temple is a small temple in the middle of the city which is devoted to Lord Hanuman. There was a good 4 km trek up to the waterfall with about a thousand steps. Even the waterfall might not be as amusing as the Shiva café with a 10-minute trek up. At this peaceful café, I ordered myself some Maggie, a cup of tea and just sat there on the cliff end to enjoy the view. It was just bravura.
Tibet kitchen offers authentic Tibetan food where I ordered myself a Mikhutala which is a Tibetan dish( Basically it is an all-vegetable soup with Momos in it). The food was delightful and worth a try.
After an exciting day of discovering Mcleodganj, today I had plans of going to Bir, Billing for some adventure sports. The day started with a marvellous breakfast at Green Café. The food was delicious there, tried some unusual Tibetan breakfast. They had a pretty vast variety of Indian, Tibetan and international delicacies. After a tummy full of breakfast, rented a bike for a good 3 hour drive to Bir (approx. 80 km from Mcleodganj). I had a travelling companion riding with me to Bir. She was the same girl I met on the bus, who again, was a solo traveller. As we left from Mcleodganj the weather was vibrant and sunlit. It was the perfect day for a bike ride in the mountains. We had our halts along the way a couple of times to enjoy the picturesque exquisiteness of the snow covered Dhauladar Range. As we reached the Bir landing site, we had to go up 14 km to Billing for the take off in the cab. Reaching the hilltop, I was really fervent and eager. There was an adrenaline rush through my body. The expected flight time was 30-40 minutes but it is hooked on a number of factors.
We took off and I was unquestionably nervous, but as 5-7 minutes conceded by, the fear in me was taken over by anticipation and appreciation. Being 3000 m up in the sky I could see the striking Kangra valley on one side and the vast Dhauladhars on the other. Due to the fast flowing wind, the flight lasted merely for 25 minutes, nonetheless, it was one of the utmost feelings in the world. Once landed, we had tea and some Maggie at the nearby Dhaba, giving it a perfect finish. As we left for Mcleodganj, the weather got a little overcast and blustery. On the way back, we had our first stop at The Baijnath Temple, near Palampur. This temple is dedicated to Vaidyanath, the lord of physicians. We left from the temple and stopped for lunch at a very fascinating café in Palampur, Neugal café. It was at a decent location deep into the woods. It had a good blend of different cuisines. While going back to Mcleodganj we decided to take a different route which would take us through the Tea estates for which Palampur was renowned. The drive on the way back was just too good. Neither of us spoke a word, we just relished the beautiful drive.
I had a big day ahead of myself. A stretched trek up to Triund, roughly 10 km from the main square in Mcleodganj. I met the guide after my breakfast in the main square and was informed that my co trekkers were few foreigners and an Indian lady. Once everyone arrived, we left for Dharamkot, until where the walk was calm. All of us were very thrilled about our trek. Two of the girls were travelling from Australia, one of them being a yoga teacher in Sydney and the other had just completed her qualification in Management theory. Other than human companions, I was accompanied by two canines till the end of our trek.
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Our foremost halt came at Ghayan temple. This point was the last abode till where the taxi or self-owned cars could come. The real trek started, a bit intricate and thrilly than before as the path got trodden and tapered. After this, we stopped halfway to Triund where there were two cafes: Magic View Café and Best View Café. Magic View is the firstborn chai shop there( since 1984) owned by Joginder Bhaijee, where we had a 15-20 min stopover to give our feet a good respite. The trek resumed and we were off again to reach the top. The trek from there onwards was pretty perilous and dicey as the route became narrower. After a while, there was shining white snow all around us, which made the trek harsher yet alluring. We kept tripping, slipping, falling and laughing at each other along the way.
Finally, after a good 4 hour trek we reached the top. The scenic beauty was out of the world, something by no means experienced afore. Due to the bright sun on the snow crests, it is favoured to carry sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses. Reaching the top gave me a feeling where I just couldn’t subdue my triumphant smile. Then we headed for Sunil Dhaba where we once again had Maggie. This time, the Maggie tasted even better and it wasn’t the extra masala that made it taste better, but the place, the feeling. After an hour of photography and idling around, we started to trek back. It is dicey to trek down at night especially with the snow around you, being the reason why we left early. We got down to the square at around 6 pm, in a good 3 hours’ time. The day had come to a close and everyone lead their own ways. This was my last day at Mcleodganj. I caught a bus early next morning returning to where I root.
I’m a 21 year old, travelling solo for a fair portion of introspection and independence. Yes, I was eager, it was my first solo trip, but so is everybody. It was beautiful how I could do what I wanted, how I wanted, without any intrusion, how I could explore those little huts, the snow peaks, how I could talk my way through with the warm Tibetan Buddhists and the little broods, how I could spend my own peaceful stretch.