Quaint but not quietOur quest for the quaint and an unending desire to escape the hustle-bustle got us onto a flight from Mumbai to Chandigarh. An eight-hour drive (including halts for lunch and refreshments) on wide concrete roads followed by an ascend on narrow but still concrete roads brought us to our first destination – Mcloedganj, a tiny suburb of Dharamshala, which also happens to be the headquarter of the Tibetian government-in-exile. This wonderful drive ended in to a long traffic jam and a congregation of people at a junction of five lanes, quashing all hopes of quaint and hustle-free. It is only the next day that we realized that the junction – called main square – was the actually the centre of action at Mcloedganj (and probably represented the entire suburb as far as tourists were concerned).
To give you a sense of the place, if you were standing at the main square such that you were not facing any road, but facing the valley, then about a kilometer to your left would be the Tibetian Musem / Dalai Lama Temple, a similar distance to your right would be the Namgyal Monastery / St. John in the Wilderness Church, whereas about 2kms behind you would be the Bhagsu Nag waterfall. These are mostly the touristy places that you would visit in Mcloedganj. Other than that, most people hang out around the square to shop and eat.
The Shiva trilogy – Water, Food, and Substance
What most tourists do not cover are the most interesting things that Mcloedganj has to offer, and both involve a fair bit of hiking. The first is a small hike that starts at the Bhagsu temple – usually where the visit ends for most tourists. The Bhagsu temple has a pond whereby an underground spring delivers water from the melting glaciers. This is the main attraction for tourists as the pond is open for a people to dip in. Once you walk past this gory site (most men strip down to bare minimum clothing), you come across the beautiful Bhagsu waterfall. From here you can hike up either along the waterfall (in dry season) or along a paved trail to the top of the waterfall. There are a number of small eateries on the way, but the best one is at the top of the waterfall - a charming little place called Shiva Café.
|Front view of the Shiva Cafe|