Mcleodganj is a small city near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, known for its community services under Dalai Lama. It is a place that is filled with foreigners, backpackers and disciples of Buddhism. The area is divided into four regions- lower Dharamshala, which is a commercial area filled with schools, government offices, markets etc. Upper Dharamshala is also known as Mcleodganj, named after British Lieutenant- Governor Sir Donald McLeod, as it served as the Summer capital for some time during the British rule.
This region is filled with Tibetian culture. Bhagsu is the north-eastern region which is filled with good restaurants and recreational classes that you can take on an hourly basis like cooking, painting, wood carving, singing, learning musical instruments etc. Dharamkot is the northernmost region and is most famous for trekking and backpacking. The sublime peace, the lush greenery and the majestic hills are what attract the tourists here. Situated in nature’s lap, Mcleodganj is a must go place for those who like waking up beautiful, breezy mornings every day and seeing gorgeous scenery between hills and valleys.
Best time to visit: Weather here is mostly pleasant throughout the year. The winter gets very cold with temperatures dipping below the freezing point at the hills. The summers range from 30-40 degree Celsius. Monsoon is from July to September and is seen as the offseason for travellers. So the best time to visit Mcleodganj is November- May.
Ways to reach Kanyakumari:
- By air - The nearest airport is the Gaggal Airport which is 15 km away. It only connects a few cities by air directly like Delhi, Kullu Manali, Gauhati, Mangalore, Nagpur and Jaipur. Taxis are easily available from the airport to Mcleodganj and would cost around 800-1000 rupees for a 45-60 minute ride.
- By train - The nearest railway station is at Pathankot and it takes around 9 hours of overnight journey to reach here from Delhi. Just across the Pathankot station is a bus stop from which there are frequent buses to Mcleodganj.
- By bus - The primary mode of transportation here in buses due to the hilly region. You get cheap buses running throughout the day, whether you are travelling around Dharamshala and Mcleodganj or want to travel to other cities from here.
- By road - Ola and Uber are not that common here. You can hire private taxis to go around the city. But be careful, taxi drivers charge a lot if they know that you are a tourist.
Places to stay:
Some quality places to stay are-
- Zostel Mcleod- If you want to stay in bunk beds then this is your place. This hotel has 6 people bed which is coed, or 4 people room only for women and also a private kind of room. It is located next to Heena Café and the Mcleod Ganj market is also close by.
- Hotel Backpacker’s Inn- Situated near Pink House, this hotel is again best fit for people who come in groups for trekking or backpacking. They have 6 people rooms (coed), super deluxe rooms as well as rooms withthe balcony view. Prices range from 300-1000 rupees per night.
- Flunger Hostel- A beautiful and cozy hostel with chic urban interiors, this hostel is the most famous amongst youth for its quite inexpensive charges. The beautifully coloured walls and wooden floors are the highlight of this place. The rooms are either 10 people in a room kind or 8 people (bunk bed) or double occupancy with attached bathroom. The prices per night are from 600-2000 per night.
Places to visit:
There are various eye catching scenes all over the place. When it comes to Mcleodganj,the first thing that comes in mind is trekking those beautiful hills. It completely rejuvenates one’s senses. Other tourist attractions are-
- Triund is popular for trekking in this Mcleodganj.
- Bhangsu falls are breathtakingly beautiful and cannot be missed.
- Namgyal Monastery is also a place for which Mcleodganj is popular.
- Bhagsunath Temple has some very scenic views.
- Other places to visit are Dharamkot, Dal Lake, Tsuglagkhang, and Tibetan Museum.
Some of the local festivals celebrated here are Halda in January which is the New Year celebrations, Himachal Winter Carnival in February and Butoh Dance Festival in June. Be sure to visit Mcleodganj during one of these festivals to truly understand the culture here.
Must eat foods in Mcleodganj:
The local is influenced by Tibetan culture. One needs to try following foods over the visit to Mcleodganj-
- Thenthuck-It’s a Tibetan soup, and is a staple here.
- Momos, Tibetan noodles and bread they are one of a kind.
- Bok choy, Thukpa are two more types of soups popular in the region.
- Apple cider is also popular in Mcleodganj.
- Tibetian Bakeries are also quite famous for their rich chocolate brownies, donuts, banana muffins.
Shopping and local markets:
There are a variety of markets ranging from cultural items to handicrafts and traditional artwork in Mcleodganj. Some of the famous ones are-
- Norbulingka Shop- Known for its high quality handicraft products, a nice museum and a very good café.
- Nowrojee general store- It’s one of the oldest stores in Mcleodganj and is popular for rare Tibetan items and daily necessity items.
- Kotwali Bazar-It’s known for alluring sculptures, murals, paintings and handicrafts.
- Always carry a water bottle with you as it can get pretty exhausting with all the walking and climbing and bottles cost you up to Rs. 50/litre.
- ATM and banks are limited in the region so have some cash with you at all times. Shopkeepers also don’t readily accept credit/debit cards here.
- Always use walking sticks for better stability while trekking or on rough terrain.
- Mcleodganj is known for its hidden gems like 'Pizzaria', so do visit this place.
- Keep drinking lassi or other drinks to keep you hydrated.
- The network coverage is limited in the hills so your phones might not work at all times.
- Be sure to attend one of the many classes here and learn an activity/ hobby like painting, yoga, cooking etc.
Festival Calendar of Mcleodganj
|Jan||Halda: Celebration for 2 days on arrival of New Year|
|Feb||Himachal Winter Carnival|
|Mar||Celebration of Losar where vajrakilaya tradition is practised|
|Jun||Butoh Dance Festival|
|Dec||International Himalayan Festival|