A Weekend well-spent at McLeod Ganj
This year’s birthday was literally breathtaking and shall I say very fulfilling. My husband took me to McLeod Ganj, a suburb town in Dharamshala , part of Himachal Pradesh, India.The name McLeod is named after a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab and Ganj meaning “neighbourhood”.
We took an evening bus from Chandigarh to Dharamshala and reached the place quite early-early as 3 in the morning. Fortunately, the hotel door was opened or else we will freeze outside waiting until we can check in. We woke up the receptionist after several attempts and checked-in right away.
Our agenda for the weekend includes shopping, sightseeing, roam around the town, visit temples, fill our tummies with Tibetan dishes and of course, A Trek to the Triund!
This town became one of my many favorite places in India. Besides the fact that this is Dalai Lhama’s hometown, most of the people living here are Tibetans whose hospitality, faith and food are amazing. I just can’t stop eating Momos and Thukpa! A Lot of people visits McLeod Ganj to learn or some, practice Tibetan Buddhism, meditation, check their arts and colorful culture.
Since we reached quite early, we slept for some hours and then prepared for the Triund Trek. However, first attempt was a failure due to the cold weather and lack of exercise, I almost fainted on our first 10 minutes of going up. So we went back to the hotel, and decided to go roam the town.
First stop, Kalachakra Temple. Kalachakra is composed of sanskirt words Kala “ time” Chakra “wheel”. This Buddhist temple is right in the middle of the busy market of McLeod Ganj. It is surrounded with restaurants, ticketing offices, souvenir shops and street food stalls with crowd passing by.
However, despite the location, this temple remains peaceful and never looked like in the middle of the street. It has the beauty that stands out and people can’t help but admire of its colorful murals and golden exterior details.
Locals and tourists stopped by to spin the Buddhist Praying Wheel called Mani Prayer Wheel and burn an incense sticks which is a practice initiated by Dalai Lama.
Mani Prayer Wheel is believed that it is filled with thousands of Avalokiteshvara mantras “ OM MANI PADME HUM” By turning this wheel once, one earns merit equal to the recitation of the mantras filled inside this wheel. It should be turned clockwise. “
Now here comes the interior of the temple. A giant Stupa will welcome you. The Stupa is built with three circular steps to represent the Buddha’s victory over the mara of death. Some call this the Stupa of Blessings. You will also be awed with the room full of colors, paintings and images of several masters, kings and some ministers who are Dalai Lama’s successors. The temple is just beautiful and being inside gives you that calmness regardless of the noise coming from the road.
His Holiness Dalai Lama Main Temple
After Kalchakra temple, we roamed around, had food, and hop on to the next temple, which is next to Dalai Lama’s house! I am a fan of Dalai Lama’s quotes and it was such an amazing feeling standing in front of his home even though it is surrounded with securities.
St. John in the Wilderness Church
Surprisingly, given that Buddhism is a huge part of India, there is a Church set in the middle of the forest and is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. It was built in 1852 with a Belgian-stained glass windows. The Church stood still despite unfortunate events and looking so elegant and divine.
Trek to Triund
On the next day, we pushed off to our Trekking no matter what! Off to my first Indian Trek-Triund from McLeod Ganj. The trek was crazy considering that I am used with the Philippines tropical weather, going up for four hours breathing cold wind and at the same time being hit with the sun rays, (plus asthma history) was definitely NOT EASY!
The cold weather and the heat from the sun really sucked up my energy.
We stopped twice to take a 15 mins-break- a MAGGI BREAK! And then continue since you cannot expect a KFC or Mc Donalds at the mountain. We encountered some people going down early in the morning and I guess they spent a night at Triund. That feeling of giving up but you just keep telling yourself “ Para sa Bayan to” “ Pang Instagram na this” so you keep fighting and motivating to reach the top as if you are paid to do this. 😀
And so, I did it! Finished Stronger after four hours of trek to the famous TRIUND. The crowning glory of Dharamshala with a ridge elevation of between 2,810 and 2,875 metres.
The trek was an extraordinary experience for me . It was not easy, however, as we go higher, the view became so beautiful. The kind of nature and sceneries I have never seen before. And the fact that it was an unplanned trip, my heart is so full that I did it without doing cardio exercises prior to that. 😀
I am always up for adventure, but during the failed first attempt, I started doubting myself when Jas told me we just reached 10 mins of the trek :D. My eyes and nose were really shocked! I guess this is the life lesson I got during the trek.
“Just keep believing in yourself and you will eventually reach your goal. Enjoy the trek of the life with the things around you because they can really help ease the pain that you’re suffering until you get there”
After the awesome trek, went back to the Town, enjoyed some Thukpa and Momo at the famous Tibet Kitchen, shop for some souvenirs then left the humble and beautiful McLeod Ganj with my happy heart.
Other places to visit near McLeod Ganj
This beautiful village in Dharamshala is 3 km drive away from McLeod Ganj. If you love to be surrounded with Pine and Himalayan trees, then this place is for you to check out.
One of the most beautiful Tibetan temple I have ever seen. It is founded in 1988 by Kelsang and Kim Yeshi at Sidhpur which they dedicate to the preservation of the Tibetan culture. Inside the institute are museums, crafts made by Tibetans, Japanese inspired garden and there is a restaurant too!
Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium
Who does not want to see what is inside a Cricket Stadium? Much more when this is one unique stadium that is situated at an altitude of 1,457 m above the sea level and has the snow-capped Himalayan mountains as the background? Well, for INR20person, might as well click some photos inside.
Tea Farms of Palampur
Having “chai” almost everyday of my life in India, I guess visiting the The Tea Capital of North in India is a must. This 50km away from Mc Leod Ganj is a tea lovers haven. The tea gardens of Palampur are the perfect place to see the huge tea gardens and can also witness how they are being processed. Stepping into these lush green gardens and smelling the scent of fresh tea leaves just make you want to sit back and relax while sipping the freshly made tea.