Little Tibet - Mcleod Ganj

Every House has a story; every village a legend..

A spiritual holiday with Walks in some of the Rich Conifer Forest, markets streets and hamlets soaked in three distinct cultures Tibetan, Himachal and Kashmir

A Trek over the tree line; explore opportunity to stay in a forest lodge overlooking Mighty Dauladhar Range

Home Stay in Forest Lodge McLeod Ganj and Dharamkot ..

The Little Tibet of India - Mc Leod Ganj, Dharamshala, Dharamkot, Triund

Picture taken at Triund



Write a whole new book in memories of your holiday library. An Offbeat Journey to the, "Little Tibet of India"

Ever since the Dalai Lama and his entourage escaped the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959 and were granted a new home in the district of Dharamsala, in India’s Himachal Pradesh, the area has attracted travellers, explorers and truth-seekers alike.

Rather than staying at the mundane, lower town of Dharamsala, once can actually plan to stay at the delightful British hill station of McLeod Ganj above it, around ten kilometres by twisting road and all of 1000m higher in altitude, that has become the big draw as India's very own "Little Tibet".

One of the many conifer and pine-forest trails in McLeod Ganj

McLeod Ganj is surrounded by peaceful pine-forested ridges and offers sweeping views down towards Dharamsala from many of its appealing guesthouses, valley view home run restaurants and rooftop restaurants.

Sidhbari

However, you only truly get to appreciate the magnificence of your surroundings by taking one of the many possible hikes in the surrounding area, especially ones between Dharamkot and Triund. Apart from the simple direct shortcut down to Dharamsala, more appealing walks take you through the woods to the nearby villages of Bhagsu and Dharamkot, the former famous for its ancient Shiva temple and a small waterfall.
Slightly further afield is diminutive but usually peaceful Dal Lake, not to be confused with its more famous namesake in Kashmir.




As the seat of one of the world's greatest living spiritual leaders, McLeod Ganj is well established as a major centre for meditation, yoga and other esoteric retreats. Both Buddhist and Hindu traditions are amply represented, so you can choose between a variety of courses of differing lengths, in such disciplines as Hindu Vipassana or Tibetan Buddhist meditation.




If you have limited time or just want to dip your toes in these waters, several centres such as Tibet World offer drop-in sessions lasting as little as one hour.

The significance of the religious centres is far more important than the magnificence of any particular structures, although there are some places of worship that are well worth a visit, even the squat St John in the Wilderness church.

The most obvious place to start, however, is the red and yellow Buddhist temple that stands just behind the tiny main square and acts as the fulcrum for the two tightly parallel bazaar streets that run down from it. It is traditional to turn the many prayer wheels that surround it, always in a clockwise direction.

The other main places to see are the Tsug Lakhang temple and Namgyal monastery, both close to the Dalai Lama's residence.

The residence is not open to the public and private audiences with His Holiness are exceptionally rare and require much advance planning. But it is worth checking out whether he is giving a public address while you are in town.

McLeod Ganj is not only about exercising your legs or cleansing your chakras either. The town is an extremely laidback place just to unwind, meet other travellers, eat well and engage in some shopping therapy.

Among the authentic souvenirs you can pick up here are beautifully painted or embroidered thangkas, the vivid wall hangings of the Buddha that you see in all the monasteries. It is also possible to witness these works of art being created.

The myriad stalls that line the main bazaar area are full or ornaments, jeweler and other tempting trinkets, while several shops stock an impressive range of perfumes and oils of all descriptions.

You can also sample some of the best food available in the Indian Himalaya here. Don't miss the chance to try traditional Tibetan cuisine, such as tasty momos (steamed or fried dumplings) or steaming bowls of thukpa (a hearty noodle soup). Both these delights are available in veg, chicken, mutton or, unusually for India, pork versions.




Obviously, the usual North Indian and occasional South Indian dishes are freely available, and the preponderance of western travelers has led to many places offering international cuisine, Israeli favorites and some rare finds such as Bhutanese cuisine, with its rich cheesy datse sauces.

The caf├ęs and restaurants are certainly sociable spots, although you should not come here expecting much in the way of nightlife. Only a couple of places serve alcohol and most shut their doors between 10pm and 11pm. Still, a rave scene would hardly fit the gently uplifting nature of this special destination.

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