Mcleodganj and beyond…

26th June, 2010. 0400hrs, Chandigarh Bus Stand. I was desperately looking for a bus to Dharamshala. A kind man told me that the bus to Dharamshala will come from Delhi and as it was a Saturday, it would be hard to find a seat. So, I decided to go for a fragmented journey (I knew the route thanks to Google Maps). I boarded a bus to Una and I was there in 2 hrs. From Una I boarded a local bus to a place called Mubarakpur, from where I got a direct bus to Dharamshala. Bus halted at a place called ‘Dehra’ for Tea. It seemed to be a nice little town. Its name reminded me of Bond’s ‘Our trees still grow in Dehra’, but of course, Bond referred to Dehradun. Finally I was in Dharamshala by 1100hrs.

Once upon a time in Dehra... ;)



I was awestruck by the view of myriads of monks roaming around. I hadn’t seen so many Buddhist monks together before. And among those monks were numerous backpackers, some even in robes of monks. Anyhow, I boarded a mini bus to Mcleodganj. Driver of the bus drove fast enough, on the sharp cuts, to fasten the heartbeats of the passengers. Mcleodganj is about 9km from Dharamshala. From Mcleodganj Bus Stand, I headed straight towards the Dalai Lama’s temple, where my friend Rajiv Rattan Panda was putting up for last 20 odd days. I slept in his room for about 2 hours.

At about 1600hrs, we decided to go to Dharamkot which is about 3km from Mcleodganj. I was amazed to know that most of the local Cafés in Mcleodganj provide free Wi-Fi. Rajiv and I had a Coffee at a café named Peace Café before boarding an Auto-Rickshaw to Dharamkot. The weather dramatically shifts towards the colder side in Dharamkot. We saw a magnificent red coloured building on the hill in front of us. We asked a local person about it, he told us that it’s the Gallu temple. We, almost simultaneously, asked the next question ‘How to reach there?’

The red building which was not the Gallu temple...

On the way to Gallu...

We were on the way to Gallu temple on foot. It was about 4 km from Dharamkot. To our shock, it was not the red building we saw from Dharamkot, but to our amazement, this place was beautiful. So, we reached the place in disguise. There was a small guesthouse called Sagar Cottage uphill, it was located at a vantage point. It enjoyed a breathtaking all around view of the hills. A nice room with a good tiled bath costed us a princely Rs.400/-. The room had a big window overlooking the hills and a spacious balcony to sit forever. I witnessed the most beautiful sunset, I have seen in my life, from this balcony. We had dinner in balcony itself. A monk from Tibet was also staying at the same guest house. He didn’t know either Hindi or English. We tried to communicate with him, and I realized that how big a barrier of language could be.

I would rate it 8 star.... the Sagar Cottage...

Sun melting into the bowl of hills...

.....

The next morning, Rajiv showed me a distant village on a distant hill and said that we must go there. We asked the name of the village from the local people. It was village Bal and the way to the village was from a kuchha road through the jungle. We had to go downhill first, cross a river and then again uphill. The forest was dense; we lost the track, but somehow reached the river, though by a longer path. There was a beautiful bridge over the river. We crossed the river and had some drinks (soft ;) ) at a local shop. It seemed like a different world out there. Nothing was similar to the cities except Coca Cola and Pepsi. The shop owner showed us the way uphill to the place we wanted to go. We followed the way uphill and finally reached the distant village with no road connectivity.

A bird sitting out of the window....

The distant village... bal

A beautiful temple...

On the way through jungle...

mysterious berries....

Bridging distances...

shop on the other side of the river...

There, we met the residents of the village. Their archaic way of living astonished us. They weave their own clothes, sowed their own crops. It was hard to imagine for me that this kind of subsistence economy still exists and that too just about 250km from a city like Chandigarh. We met a person named Sher Singh who was 85 years old and was making wool by spinning some hand tool. I imagined that Sher Singh might be around 25 when India got Independence. He might had the same dreams of ‘change’ in his eyes at that time as other people of his age. But after 60 years, here he was, sitting in the same village, trying hard to survive. He is as human as Nehru was, but difference is that Sher Singh will permanently diminish into oblivion after a few years. Here I would like to take the honour to try to reduce the intensity of his limbo, by introducing him on the web. Anyhow, we went back to Mcleodganj on foot via a beautiful town called Naddi.

first glimpse of the small village from inside...

cloth weaver at 'someone's' house...

Sher Singh... you'll live in this blog

Beautiful town Naddi...

Back there in Mcleodganj, we again sat in Peace Café. A white guy asked for my laptop to check his mail. I obliged. When he returned the laptop, I asked him ‘What’s your good name?’, he stunned me with ‘Mera naam Carlos hai’. I decided to stay with Rajiv in the monastery itself for the night.

Carlos in Peace Cafe

McLeod Bazaar...

Next day we set off for a church named ‘lying in wilderness’ which had a grave of an ex-governor of Canada (of erstwhile times). On the way we saw a Carvan (Swades style) standing by the roadside. It had a strange number starting with FB. I saw a small German flag sticking to the lateral part of the Caravan. We met the owner. He was a German, Patrik, who came all the way from Germany on the Caravan with his family. He set off for the odyssey last August. There is no accounting for tastes. We decided to go to the Triund trek the next day. We decided to go till Gallu temple by a taxi. It’s hard to believe that Himachal Taxi drivers consider the Dharamkot-Gallu road as motorable. Anyhow we booked a taxi for next morning for Rs.350/- (just 6 km).

In the church...

Patrik and his Merc Caravan...or in his words..his home...

Taxi picked us from the monastery itself sharp at 6 AM and dropped us at Gallu temple. We started the trek with some bread and a litre of juice. Although the scenic beauty, which the trek offered, was tremendous; but the path was really hard, consisting of withered rocks and narrow passages all the way. There was a eating joint on the way called Magic View. It was a small hut meant to serve the trekkers. Shelling out Rs.50/- for a Gatorade seemed reasonable over there. Most of the passer bys were White backpackers. As told by the taxi driver, the last stretch of the trek was quite steep. There was one more eating hut on the way and the guy told us that we are at 2600m. Soon we reached Triund which is at 9350 ft.

Energy rejuvenated... ;)

On the way to Triund

Eating points en route the trek...

Embraced by nature...

The fact that we have walked all the way to an altitude of more than 9000 ft felt like an achievement. But the view at Triund has to be rated more than any other feeling. It seemed like a dreamland. Lawns of foliage were kissing the white clouds, all in front of your eyes. In fact you seem to be a part of this nature’s beautiful drama. The most beautiful plateau, I have seen till now. There were a few eating huts spread over the plateau, serving Maggi and other things. Coca Cola was there as well. There was one guest house as well, but it was full with backpackers. We saw one more amazing view over there, a girl from England with some fellow backpackers was picking the plastic garbage from over the place. They told us that they are very much concerned about the fact that where will this garbage go? They complained that most of the Indian tourists come and throw litter ignorantly and they are on a streak to clean the whole place up. We stayed at Triund for an hour or so.

Triund Magic...

Lost in the heaven...

Greens...

Brit girl heading the cleaning drive...

It started pouring heavily on the way back. We watched our foot and kept moving. We met a group of students who were going uphill. They asked me whether there will be any STD over there in Triund. I told them even the electricity over there is generated through solar panels only. A guy asked me a favour to call his father (Col. Amreek Singh) from Dharamkot and tell him that they will return tomorrow. I obliged. When we reached Dharamkot, we were soaked. We sat in a cyber café and updated our Facebook accounts ;). I also called Col.Amreek Singh (from STD). Sometimes I wonder how we human beings socialize temporarily. I didn’t exchange numbers with those guys. They can’t even say me Thanks now. Anyways, that’s the way it is.

Indra dev was partying...

enjoyed every moment

Spirits soar automatically...

On reaching Mcleodganj we had lunch at some Mcleod’s (or something like that) restaurant. After that I had a nap for an hour in Rajiv’s room. Finally, boarded the non-Volvo AC bus to Delhi at 8 pm, with a promise to come back again… I have to…. clicked the below shown pic from the bus itself

Will see you soon.....

35 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    You did so much :-) and you were waiting for my story. I am glad that I didn’t write, it had nothing. Ok, may be a good walk which we did from Mcleod to Dharamkot to Bhagsu to Mcleod.

    You seem to have made most of the treks which McLeod is famous for.

    Beautiful pics.

  • Ankit Bhatia says:

    Wow Vikas its an awesome trip. U ve clicked this place v.b’fully, seems you enjoyed a lot.. After reading this im desperately waiting for my next trip to this place.. :)

  • Abhishek says:

    So here you are, again with a brilliant one.
    I once had a privlege to visit mclod and i loved every bit of that moment. Iam sure you must have loved it too. I actually like your visiting and exploring new areas or u might say beautifull villages.
    What makes a journey more memorable are the people whom you have met on the way. The talks, the attitude they have.it is simply awesome. Iam sure you will agree with me.
    And what can be said about the mesmorising , astonishing beauty of that place.
    So buddy keep up the good work and keep up exploring n keep us posted.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Well narrated post equally supported by beautiful pictures , specially the sunrise one !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bharat mendiratta says:

    welldone vikas!!
    as usual awsome pics and ur writing
    I envy you dude
    bottom line:- “I appreciate that”

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    My sincere thanks to everyone for the kind words….

  • Vivek Aggarwal says:

    Nice pictures dude. Great job done.
    Vivek

  • Manish Kumar says:

    That’s real Ghumakkari ! Loved the finer details which you have included in this travelogue.

  • Roopesh says:

    Enjoyed the travelogue. Your narration of 85 year old man, german caravan, brit girl cleaning the rubbish and anecdotes which makes up a real travel experience. Have never been to McLeodGanj but would like to do it now and spend some time there.

  • I actually spent the night up in triund.. hoping to go till snow point next morning. And night spent there was adventourous most.
    Triund’s view is so awesome….
    I’ll go there next time for visiting naddi, thanks to your post. :)

  • Anandarup Nandi says:

    Loved reading your account Vikas. I visited Mcllo in January this year with my friends and trekked all of the 9 kms from Mcllo town to Triund. Can’t agree with you more on Sagar Cottage and Triund. Those are magically peaceful places and the trekking route too is surreal. Your write-up and photos transported me back to Triund. Really impressive!!!

    Keep writing!!!!!!

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Sincere thanks to all the folks up there for the words of encouragement….

    Thanks again :)

  • HaRMaN says:

    dude, I love the way u go-on, like a Global-Trekker :)
    Letz plan a trip together some day soon, may be Mysore..

  • nayan says:

    crossing Indrahar pass ( Dhauladhar) after triund is also good option and the treck is also gentle. You cross dhauladhar range to chamba. I have to make it someday.
    Great write up boss. keep it up.

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    @ HArMaN
    sure brother, anytime.

    @Nayan
    Thanks for the great suggestion, will surely plan that, if not soon, then late.

  • Shriya says:

    A rich, eloquently written travelogue made all the more attractive and lucid by the fluidity of the language and the beautiful pictures! Great work! looking forward to read more of these!

  • Sandeep Sehgal says:

    You provide a wealth of information. It surely helps me as I plan my trip to Dharamshala in the coming month.

    Does anyone have any updates on route / road condition from Delhi or Panchkula?

  • unmil shah says:

    great blog, was waiting to go there. now i’ll be surely going there. need to know how many rooms do sagar cottage has. i am planning a trip in may 2011 with around 40 children of age group 10 to 15 years. Is it possible to go and stay there for 3 – 4 days for different treks

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Thanks for the comments…

    @unmil
    I dont think that there are sufficient rooms in Sagar Cottage for 40 children… but yes there are a couple of more guest houses around. Combined they can make 40..

  • Hi Unmil,

    This is Abhay owner of Parvatikuteer and AdventureCompass. Read this to get the idea about me: http://www.ghumakkar.com/2010/08/01/parvati-kuteer-kasol-himachal-hotel-review/

    I can help you with the arrangement for 40 children in tented accommodation there, let me know if you are interested. You know where to find me…..

  • Mr Mobs says:

    I really enjoyed reading this piece, Sher Singh will indeed live on this blog! I love Mcleodganj, I was last there in 2009 and this has refreshed my memories.

  • viv says:

    great job dude..

    i am goin same treck on 3rd of octobet till 13th oct..

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Thanks viv… so, CWG @ Triund ;)

  • Sandeep Sehgal says:

    Update on Road Conditions to McLeodganj from Delhi:

    Oct 2 : Delhi – Panchkula – stopover at Panchkula for the night
    Oct 3: Panchkula – Kharar – Rupnagar – Anandpur Sahib – Una – Amb – Chintpurni – Kangra – Dharamshala

    Una – Amb stretch is bad, the road is not surfaced for most of the stretch. I feel it will take a couple of months for the condition to improve (don’t hold me to the timeline, I just hope it is done soon).

    I was advised by a petrol pump attendant that Road via Gagret is much better. I did not get a chance to verify this as we travelled back to Delhi with a stopover at Amritsar. We took the McLeodganj – Shahpur – Nurpur – Pathankot – Amritsar. This route is mostly good, McLeodganj – Shahpur stretch is not so great but bearable.

  • Bindhu says:

    Well done and well written. We also did the Triund trek in July. It was pouring during the climb uphill and surprisingly the rocks were not slippery. A similar trek in Sahyadris would have meant all of us falling down at least once. It was amazingly beautiful. Want to do it again when there is snow.

    Our guide told us that garbage picking is done regularly by volunteers. It’s sad that Indian tourists are the litter bugs.

  • Vishal says:

    Gee thanks – Now I am motivated to go there now.. and my wifwe wont even allow me to go out of Delhi without a driver and an escort… I am excited enough with your graphically detailed story to sneak off alone… Great job and thanks again.
    – Vishal

  • AMIT HAZRA says:

    Amazing write up Vishal…..has geared me to plan a trip to the western himachal including Mclo, Triund, Khajjiar, kalatop and Dalhousie…..keep writing boss….

    I read a lot about Sagar cottage in Dharamkot but was unable to find any contact no of the owner Vijay.. How is it and what’s the current price for DB rooms? We will be more happy with homestays amidst the nature, clean rooms and nice hospitality ( at a budgeted price) rather than luxurious hotels….

    Can you please provide me the mobile no of Sagar cottage. That will be a real help to organise my trip with family in may end

  • AMIT HAZRA says:

    Hi Vikas,

    Can you please provide me the mobile no of Sagar cottage. I am waiting…. please….

  • Vikas Kapil says:

    Hi Amit,
    I went on this trip almost 5 years ago, and unfortunately I do not hold any of their contact details now. Sorry for that. But I do remember we got a taxi to Gallu Temple, and the taxi driver took us to a certain point (beyond which cars won’t go) and it was there that we found Sagar Cottage.

  • Dr.Rakesh Gandhi says:

    Amit ji please note there are four complexs at Gallu Temple including Rajan Guest House ,Saggar Cottage etc.etc n one can easy get double bed room, last year rate was Rs 800/-.per day in July ,If u want to go by your own conveyance it is better to park at Bus stand parking n go on foot or by taxi till Gallu Temple.Otherwise u can get Auto till Dharamkot n from Dharamkot its just about 2 or 3 km. But it will different experience to stay there.it is perfect place for nature lovers only.Alternatively one can stay at Chinar Soul House….but it is difficult to go there without local help for new Guest.CHS is located on the way to Bhagsu waterfall.Just after crossing bhagsu temple towards waterfall n after half killometer one have to cross waterfall river n can reach.

  • smit says:

    Hey we will be going to mcleodganj from 9-13june. That’s 3 night & 4days. We are very keen on going to truind staying one night there in tent.will it be okay staying in tent? From where to get the tent? How much does it cost? Will it be raining? And by reading your post we are interested in going to gullu. Can this all be made within 4 days? Which includes local sightseeing in McLeod. Any suggestions/advice?
    Thanks in advance :)

  • Sukhdeep says:

    Am planning my weekend trip to dharmshala, maclod ganj, dharmkot,
    will leave delhi on friday night, and wanna return to delhi on monday morning at 5 am not late than that.
    please guide what all we can do.
    we will have our own taxi…..

  • Lily Olson says:

    Hi, lovely article. How did you contact Sagar Cottage? I would like to book a room there ahead of time.

    Thanks,
    Lily

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