Once arriving in Dharamsala after the bus from hell, we had to take a short taxi ride into McLeod Ganj (McLeodGanj).
So now that I’ve told you about that time an Indian dude sat on my lap, I can tell you a few little tips about the area.
Most people show up in Dharamsala but head out right away to McLeod Ganj, the home of the Dalai Lama. This is where many Tibetan refugees have been given a safe place to live.
This is where I got my massage certification, but also where I was diagnosed with Dengue fever, which I had struggled with unknowingly for a week and a half. It was a rough time but luckily I was in a gorgeous place.
WHERE I STAYED:
We stayed at Kashmiri owned Hotel Mount View, Jogiwara Road, near post office, [email protected] , +91 981 62 61717. Everyone was so friendly and really interesting to learn about the US. We watched the results of the presidential election together and they celebrated Obama’s re-election, telling me how lucky I am to be American. Click here for rates and availability.
The double room was simple with no heat, a bucket shower, and Indian toilet for 300 Rs. We split the cost making it only 3 USD per night. Because I was so sick, it was the least I’ve slept in my life. I woke up around 4 every morning and couldn’t go back to sleep because my stomach cramps were so unbearable. You’d think I’d just stop eating, but literally, nothing on earth could make me stop eating (ha ha).
WHERE TO EAT:
Hotel Green has the yummiest thupka and momo’s. Jimmy’s Italian had pretty good food (vodka penne and pizza) as well as decent Wi-Fi. The momo’s from the women on the street are to die for. Gakyi restaurants served up delicious Tibetan food. Carpe Diem also wasn’t bad! Chicken and pasta at 4 Seasons wasn’t bad either. There is a French dessert place people recommended on the corner in the main square of town, but I thought the ice cream was terrible!
WHAT TO DO IN MCLEODGANJ:
Tsunglagkhang complex to see some monks in action! Also check out the Kalachakra temple where the Dalai Lama teaches.
Head up to the Tibetan Children’s Village for a touching experience. You can walk there, but wear layers as you’ll get toasty during the hike.
Take a walk to Dharmkot and the waterfalls. You can ask your hotel to make a little map for you.
Take a class like the Thai Yoga Massage class I took for 5,000 Rs.
This is a great place to take treks as well and a little cheaper priced than Manali. Check out Kangra Valley!
Do a yoga retreat. The best way to look for retreats in India is on bookyogareats.com where other yogis leave reviews about retreats all over the world.
You can take Vipasaana (10 day silent meditation course) here just up the hill from town and I am considering doing that this monsoon!
You’d be smart to take a day trip to Amritsar (.
” href=”http://werkenntwen.info/wagah-border-india-pakistan/” target=”_blank”>Wagah border and Golden Temple) from here. We actually put up fliers looking for buddies to share a ride with and it worked wonderfully. We paid 5,000 Rs split between 5 people! I’ll go more into this later next week.
Make sure to plan to see the Dalai Lama! We stayed a full 10 days because we knew he’d be in town. I promise, more to come on how and when to see his holiness!
WHAT TO BUY:
Tibetan jewelry and artifacts with red and blue (turquoise and ruby) gems. Not all is real, but in this area most is! I also got an Om necklace I wear every day. The banners and flags you always see are sold here. I bought a lovely banner with a Dalai Lama quote that I love about The Precious Life. You can also pick up hand-knitted scarfs, slippers, and cute bracelets. If you walk south down the hill from town, near the women’s hostel, you’ll see a yummy chocolate shop! Further down that hill is the hospital.
We celebrated Diwali here, which wasn’t the best. Most people are Buddhist and didn’t really make a huge deal of the holiday. There were some firecrackers in the town square that did not look safe at all. It was a riot to see little child monks lighting firecrackers! I couldn’t stop laughing.
If you’re not into the ‘meditation’ peace scene, you might not like this area. I did find some people a little fake (or over the top) and annoying. Lots of backpackers trying to one up each other about how at peace they’ve been or how they had the best meditation experience or breakthrough at an ashram… yadda yadda yadda! I got to the point I zoned out and stopped listening to anyone!
Because I was there for 10 days, I watched some TV in the room on “sick days” and ate Oreos, cried watching Brokeback mountain (the censored Indian version where two friends go camping together, and one oddly dies but they don’t explain why). I didn’t really get into the “spiritual stuff” here, but stayed true to myself. There was a lot of Reiki and energy healing in my massage class but I chose not to implement that into my massages that I give, as I don’t necessarily believe it works.
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