“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.”
Cool and quiet, life is simple and peaceful here… and there are reasons to come, and to come back to this small and beautiful hill town—McLeod Ganj. While the beauty of the place beckons, a chance to meet a living spiritual legend Dalai Lama grants a mystic charm to the place that even the harshest of cynics will be hard pressed to deny.
Nestled in the scenic Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, this hill town or ‘Little Lhasa’ as it is fondly called has built up a fanatical fan following in recent times, especially among the (wink, wink) spiritually inclined tourists.
There is no escaping the Tibetan presence here, as there are dozens of antique shops selling all kinds of Buddhas, prayer wheels and the lot.
From pure silver jewellery to jade figurines, there is an eclectic list of items available and the best part is, you are welcome to bargain to your heart’s content!
A word of advice for those with deep pockets: Monday is the designated holiday for all Tibetans shops. So make sure your shopping sprees end before!
Speaking of contentment, McLeod Ganj is a fun place for those who are willing to experiment with their gastronomic choices. Authentic Tibetan fare like Thenthuk, Tingmo, Thukpa Bhatuk are available at almost every other restaurant. As long as you don’t worry too much about the hygiene, it is plain sailing for carnivorous and herbivorous homo sapiens both. The two standout eateries are ironically not in the main hub of the town, with Trek and Dine serving delicious wood-fired pizzas in neighbouring Dhraramkot ( A village that is ‘high’) while Illiterati Cafe (Formerly Boom Boom Cafe) on Jogibara Road has a great menu catering to European taste-buds.
McLeod Ganj proper is a little cramped with the influx of ‘gora people’ and of course the native Himachal and the Tibetans who are in exile. That is why staying in a property which is on the outskirts of town is highly recommended. One can walk in or hail a cab to town when they please.
Summer months, as can be expected with any hill station, are exceptionally crowded and best avoided by astute travelers. The months of February-March and October-November are ideal for extended weekend plans.
The famous Triund is only a few hours walk and for those who have the zeal, a must-visit while the others can always make do with a trip to the Dalai Lama’s residence and the main temple in town. Unsurprisingly and somewhat ironically the temple is most peaceful when the ‘Old Monk with Gucci shoes’ isn’t in town.
Asking any local on when His Holiness will be in town is like playing Russian Roulette, as depending on whom you ask, he could be anywhere between his residence to Paris to Peru!
As enchanting as it remains, the call of the wild and a spiritual sojourn to the place remains alluring. One can fly to Kangra airport and then cab it to McLeod Ganj but for the more adventurous types, driving down hill will be a far more appealing option. However, the 488km (Delhi to McLeod Ganj) road trip isn’t for beginners or solo drivers for most of the roads near the town are quite winding and one has to be alert at all times whilst driving in the hills.
Without a doubt, a great getaway for couples and larger groups, McLeodganj is a town that will wash away your worldly worries at least for the duration of your escapade!