McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Dharamsala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is known as “Little Lhasa” or “Dhasa” because of its large population of Tibetans. McLeod Ganj is the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the site of the Tibetan exile community’s main temple. The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeod Ganj.
Named after Donald McLeod, Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, McLeod began life in the 1850s as a civilian settlement outside the British garrison of Dharamsala. It was devastated by the 1905 Kangra earthquake and sank into obscurity after Independence – until the Dalai Lama arrived to establish his base here in 1960. Since then, McLeod has become a vibrant centre of Tibetan culture and Buddhism. With an interesting mix of travellers, volunteers, maroon-robed monks and nuns, the international dharma crowd and an increasing flow of Indian tourists, you are never far from an interesting conversation here.
So we started from Dalhousie by our private cab in the morning to reach McLeod Ganj. Little to our despair we reach Dharamsala in about 3.5 hrs but then got stuck in a never ending traffic jam on the way to Upper Dharamsala, better known as McLeod Ganj. After covering a distance of 120 kms in 3.5 hrs, it took us another 4 hrs to cover a mere distance of 9kms to our actual destination. So it was a cricket match in the Dharamsala stadium that weekend which has attracted lot many tourist and vehicles to that area resulting in that traffic jam. I loathed at the pollution all these vehicles including my cab were causing in the lush landscape of the hills. But there was no other way out but rather wait for the vehicles to pass one by one from the narrow roads.
After wasting most of our first day, with great difficulty we could find a place to stay at Oyo rooms near Bhagsunag falls. The hotel was below average but that was the only option we got at that time due to huge rush. We just did some local sightseeing in the market that evening and got some sleep at night. It was cold there. Next morning we trekked to Bhagsunag waterfall which was hardly 1km away from there. The trek was amazing and the waterfall even more. The water was shivering cold and crystal clear. There were lot of cafes which served all kind of international cuisines near that area. On the way back we also visited the bhagsunag temple. Must visit place.
We had to return to Pathankot that evening to catch our train back to Delhi so we thought to cover the rest of the places on our way back after checking out of the hotel. We then visited the Dalai lama temple, Tibetan museum, local market in McLeodGanj. We regret to miss to go for the Triund trek which was another major attraction of the place. Other sightseeing places, the Dal lake, Naddi view point, etc. were not so worthy. Coming back to Dharamshala, the cricket stadium, war memorial park, kangra museum can be given some halt. In all, 1 day is enough for the entire sightseeing tour.
There are many adventure activities to seek if you come prepared and have ample time. Bir billing valley hosted international para gliding tournament recently in 2015. The place is some 100kms more from Dharamshala. Also there is Jwalamukhi temple nearby to visit. In total, a nice weekend expedition to the hills where one can enjoy different cultures, perform some adventure activities, stroll in local market in a very cool environment.
Must see – Bhagsunag waterfall, Dalai Lama temple, Tibetan market, Dharamshala stadium
Can also see – Naddi view point, Triund trek, War memorial park, Bir billing valley