Up in the Kangra hills lies this little town of Dharamshala, also known as Little Lhasa because of the large Tibetan population. The Tibetan Government -In – Exile is based out of Dharamshala-McLeodganj. (McLeodganj is a suburb of Dharamshala.)
McLedoganj lies in the Kangra District which was annexed by the British from the Sikh empire in 1850 after the Second Anglo Sikh War. Here on the slopes of the Dhauladhar Mountains lay one old ‘dharamshala’ hence the name of the new town.
“McLeod Ganj was named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab; the suffix ganj is a common Hindi word for “neighbourhood”.”
Today Dharamshala – McLeodganj have become bustling little towns with tonnes of tourist traffic, charming lanes and cafes and many, many hostels. It’s worth a visit, especially if you can figure out the non-tourist season.
Do take time to visit the Tibet Museum and go through photographs, artifacts and documentary screenings. The Norbulingka Institute, 8 km away, is worth a visit too, and has guest rooms you can rent. It has a vegetarian restaurant as well. St John In The Wilderness is a Church dedicated to John The Baptist, built in 1852 and located just as you reach McLeodganj from Dharamshala. The Namgyal Monastery is the personal monastery of the 14th Dalai Lama. If you are interested in Tibetan Culture do visit the The Library Of Tibetan Works and Archives. There is also the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts one can visit.
Apart from all this, of course, there are shopping lanes, cafes, restaurants and walks around town. Since McLedoganj lies on the slopes of the Dhauladhar Mountains, there are plenty of walks and treks in the area. We stayed at nearby Sidhpur and had excellent birding experience.
McLeodganj is the kind of place where you book yourself into a cozy room and get to finish your book, screenplay, painting or just introspect. Plan for a longish stay.
At the Norbulingka InstituteThe Norbulingka Restaurant has a nice vegetarian Tibetan MenuAt Queenie’s Oven, a cute Cafe right opposite the Norbulingka Institute.Tucked into the lanes of McLeodganj is an awesome Korean restaurant called Seven hills of DokkaebiThe food at Seven hills of Dokkaebi was perhaps the best Korean food we have had. The decor is fabulous and the place has many Korean language books as well.The lanes of McLeodganj have a distinct character. Look for bargains here.In these lanes of McLeodganj find woolen shawls, sweaters, stoles, caps etc, often hand made and at great bargains.Walk the McLeodganj Lanes, buy locally and help the local economy,. A lot of the things sold here are hand made.The entrance to McLeodganj is as usual dusty, congested and kind of ugly.Many restaurants, ice cream shops etc line the two main lanes of McLeodganj. The narrow lanes thaty go further up get quainter.Try some local food here… McLedoganj is great for some nice Tibetan meals…Cafe Budan is a small but charming coffee shop with delicious cakes and bakes and free wi-fi.Amidst these lanes of McLeodganj you will find many affordable hostels and guest houses to stay.This is the one of the two main market lanes. Walk up into a couple of other quaint lanes to find less crowd.The charm of a ‘hill station’ can be felt in the winter sun of Mcleodganj.Driving back from Sidhpur, the magnificent Dhauladhar Mountains make a formidable backdrop.
How to reach : By Bus : There are many buses that reach Dharamshala from all major nearby towns.
By Train : The nearest station is Pathankot or Chakki Bank. From here you can take a bus or taxi to McLeodganj, distance of around 90 km.
By Flight: The Kangra Airport at Gaggal is some 15km from McLeodganj.
Where to stay: McLeodganj has numerous stay options and so does Dharamshala. Between the two we would recommend McLeodganj as its less crowsded than Dharamshala. We stayed at Sidhpur.
Author :Paramvir Singh – macrotravel