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Fishing for peace in the Himalayas

  • Submitted by: Rochie, India
  • Submission Date: 23rd Sep 2005

Gautam and I are a couple forever looking for recreational places in the hills, tranquility and harmony quotient subject to change depending on the season and our inclination to adventure. This time around, we found a bit of both in the small town of upper Dharamshala-McLeodganj. Our journey as always began from Delhi in a super deluxe bus and it was a quiet one for most part of the 12 hours that it takes to reach McLeodganj. Once there, we discovered that at first glance it looks like mini Paharganj in all its small by-lanes and the chaos of people walking in all directions, looking as perplexed as we were. At seven in the morning, we simply checked into a hotel that we first glanced upon on the main road, which was quite comfortable, barring its pistachio green walls and a very ornate ceiling fan. The temperature for most part of our stay was quite pleasant, sometimes even coercing us to wear half sleeved clothing, unless it rained, which it did once, compelling to switch to wearing woolens overnight, but then that is the pleasure of the volatile valley weather.
The place that would most appeal to an art enthusiast is just a few kilometers downhill towards Dharamshala that leads to the Kangra museum, which boasts of a fossil of the tooth of an elephant dating a million and a half years ago as well as some miniature Kangra paintings that are quite a feast for the eyes.
Back up in the busy town of McLeodganj, for those wanting to partake on learning power meditation and taking short courses on clairvoyance, there is the ubiquitous sounding ‘Asho’ Ashram that conducts such courses apart from teaching massage therapy as well.
For eternally ravenous people like us, the town has a wide variety of restaurants and cafes to choose from but the Chocolate Log situated on Jogibara road and the Moon Peak café near our hotel, rate the highest on our palate contentment list. While the chocolate cake at the former literally takes the cake, the latter is the ideal place for a fulfilling breakfast with freshly prepared deli sandwiches and salads, overlooking the panoramic view of the Kangra valley on one side of the café’s sitting area.
Another place that should not be missed for any reason is the Bhagsu waterfall…albeit a fairly lesser waterfall by all hill standards, its still a breathtaking sight and if you’re adventurous then to walk up to the mouth of the waterfall and sit by its side is an unparalleled feeling.
The real adventure though, undoubtedly lies in discovering the valley by foot and unearthing small shops to buy souvenirs from as well as marveling at Buddhist art in all its forms ranging from ‘Tankhas’ to Buddhist prayer wheels engraved in the most intricate way.
It was only the journey back to Delhi when we felt shortchanged, having come by a super deluxe bus booked at the HRTC office in Delhi, we were completely misled by the HRTC office in McLeodganj owing to which, we found ourselves traveling by a worn off DTC bus look-alike where I was convinced I’d reach ISBT half dead if not all.
As great as a place McLeodganj is, in most cases the unsuspecting traveler would probably get swindled either while booking tickets to go somewhere or when trying to purchase a curio at the many shops laid out in the main market, so a serious suggestion would be to bargain and if need be compare the prices of anything expensive that you might be spending on.
In all, be sure to carry some warm clothes, no matter what the season, just in case and also try and have a handy map of the town to ensure lesser bedlam in what can be a magnificent holiday.
But most importantly for any holiday, one thing you can’t leave behind is the perfect travel partner because then any trip becomes the best of all journeys, a journey into ourselves.