Dharamsala McLeod Ganj

Trip Start Oct 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Dharamsala McLeodganj

Flag of India  , Himachal Pradesh,
Saturday, May 21, 2011

The next morning, we took the very steep short cut road to McLeodganj. The sky was clear and the snow capped Dhauladhars seemed very near.      The approaching narrow street market of McLeod were a bit of a shock, a bit too crowded, with too much of hustle and bustle for comfort.  Our instant reaction was let's get the hell out of here.    We saw a signboard pointing the way to the Dal Lake and Naddi.  At least 200 taxis must have been parked on that road, bringing an instant recall of  Matheran’s Dasturi Naka where on a busy day, cars are parked halfway to Panorama Point.  The saving grace was that the rhododendron forest was in full scarlet bloom.    At the now empty Dal Lake, we turned left for Naddi. The snow peaks view got better and better.  So did the increase in construction.  In a couple of years, this place will be terribly built up.  A path along the cliff’s edge led off from the Naddi car park.  We followed this scenic walk way to the point where it terminated in a Sahaja Yoga Centre.  This would be an ideal place to sojourn, if one could swing it.   Back in the bustling market place, we ambled along aimlessly.  Tibetan kitsch was being sold just about everywhere.  Some of the pieces were quite good and I asked the Tibetan lady what the price was.  She did not reply and thinking she may not have heard me, I asked again.  She ignored me pointedly.  We were insulted and walked away.  The Tibetans here do not seem interested in dealing with Indian visitors, or so it would certainly seem.   I noticed that several of the other Tibetan vendors also did not solicit Indian customers though they fawned over the foreign tourists.  With that un-called for attitude, I am not surprised that there is a covert resentment of the "Tibetees" amongst the local Himachali’s.

McLeodganj is full of long staying foreigners, many of them were Israelis.  Many were driving around in locally registered motorbikes and jeeps.  We ventured into interesting narrow lanes that were full of small guest houses, laundries, stores selling foreign foodstuff, trek arrangers, everything very well organised to cater to long term visitors.  Also, very good for the local economy.

 A plus point for McLeod is the abundance of reasonably priced restaurants and eating places offering very much more than standard North Indian and Punj-Chinese fare.  We enjoyed lunch in a very pleasant establishment overlooking the mountains.  They had a live band in the evenings.    

With nothing better to do, we walked after lunch to Bhagsu, a pleasant walk peppered by roadside stalls, only this time they were Biharis selling Tibetan kitsch!  Bhagsu itself was too built up for comfort and we turned back after seeing the falls in the distance.

The famed Nowrojee stores was in a dilapidated and decrepit condition and we wondered what all the fuss about it was.   I had read about the Norbulingka Institute.  Upon enquiry, we learnt that it was not here, but in Sidhpur just outside Dharamsala.  Off we went, having had more than enough of McLeodganj. 

It took a bit of asking to get correct directions to Norbulingka but once there, it was pleasant enough though not anywhere near as striking as the new colourful Tibetan monastery at Bir.    There is a guest house in the premises, along with a museum of dolls [Losel Museum] depicting life in Tibet, an outdoor café and a well laid out store selling Tibetan ware at inflated prices.      A photograph of the Dalai Lama is placed beneath the Buddha idol in the main temple, which had noteworthy paintings on the outer walls. 

On our way back to our hotel, we stopped by at the spanking new Dharamsala cricket stadium of IPL fame.    Another evening stroll through the Kotwali bazaar, this time with less traffic, brought an end to our  nondescript sojourn in Dharamsala.    
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