Trip Report - Mcloed Ganj

#1 Oct 3rd, 2011, 19:20
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#1
Thanks to the forum, I was well planned for my trip and had a great time in Mcloed.

Here are the highlights -

Sun/11Sep
Arrived Chakki Bank at 03.15am
Took a auto rickshaw to Pathankot bus station (Rs.100)
First bus for Kangra leaves at 4.00 am. Took the 5.00am (direct bus to Dharmsala) Rs.204/- got reserved seats at the counter 15min prior.
Arrived Dharamsala at 8.00am. As the same bus was headed for Mcleod Ganj, decided to stick to it as the luggage was stacked on the roof.
Dharmsala to Mcleod Ganj - 30min ride (Rs.10)

On a recommendation of a friend, had booked at Om Tara Guest house, run by Hari & Ria Dass, located in Dharmkot.
An affordable homestay for double rooms at Rs.300/- per night.
Took a autorickshaw from Mcloed Bus stand to Rishi Bhavan (Rs.50)
Had Hari meet us there and it was a 20min walk through a rough trail (over boulders and what not)...something we had not expected...thankfully we had help with luggage.
Reached the place - nice location in a middle of forest..serene, peaceful and lush green. Had a large room on the first floor - although the rooms looked worn out compared to the pictures posted on the website.
Started raining heavily soon after we had reached...used that time to unpack/get a shower. Decided to head out and explore once the rains subsided...we were advised of a different trail which gets you to Bhagsu.
Involved a walk in a rough terrain which finally led to a long line of steps bringing you to Bhagsu...passed Mystery Cafe enroute.

Lessons learnt -
Never to trust the pictures on website (they could be years old).
Stick to a central location on Day 1 and check out options if needed.
A remote location makes it difficult to commute to and fro after dark..especially where we were.

Decided to check out alternate stay options and checked on Sky Pie Guest House in Bhagsu....liked it and paid an advance to book a room from the next day.
Rooms start from Rs.250...the one's with a view we booked were Rs.600 for a double with attached bath/hot water/TV/wardrobe to keep our stuff.

To be continued..
"Itís not about how to achieve your dreams. Itís about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you. "
ó Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture)
#2 Oct 4th, 2011, 08:46
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#2
Nice start ashok..please continue your trip report
#3 Oct 4th, 2011, 09:58
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#3

Thumbs up

Hey Ashok...

Very nice and descriptive enough to help others.....

and yes your lessons would help others too...

Keep it coming...

Regards,
Ankit
#4 Oct 4th, 2011, 23:35
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#4
Mon/12Sep

Bhagsu & Sky Pie

Monday morning saw more rain and we moved to sky pie around 11.00am thru a light drizzle. The trail and the line of steps had us huffing and puffing, highlighting the city sedentary life we lead.
Got to Sky Pie and had to wait for our room to be ready.
We dumped our luggage in the office and decided to explore the vicinity.

Adjacent to Sky Pie is a high speed internet cafe and the charges of Rs.30 per hour..also changes foreign currency and you can get cash against your credit card. The place is open till late (11.00pm i think)

There is the Singh's place famous for the Bhagsu Cake (the original one), has a store and a sit out restaurant. You can also refill your water bottle (filtered water is sold at Rs.5 per litre) at the store. It is also a great place for a morning Indian breakfast of Parathas & yoghurt.
Plain Paratha - Rs. 20
Veg Paratha - Rs. 25
It is served with pickle and some chutney. They were a decent size and quiet filling.

I saw a falafel joint further down (I was told that the guy sold the best falfel's in town)

There were two places with German bakery sign..(more of a sit out place) but were relatively empty.

We got back to Sky Pie and settled in our new place.

Sky Pie -
The room was fairly large with a wall cabinet and a set of drawers adjacent to the bed. A western toilet & shower with hot water facility. No signs of mold or dampness and everything spic and span. This is the most common complaint even in fancy hotel rooms during the rainy season.

Guest House - Etiquette (what not to expect)

- Carry your own towels (though we were given a set when asked)
- Come equipped with your toiletries or we can get the supplies from the shops in the area.
- No day to day house keeping or change of sheets
- No room service
- Don't complain - people are friendly and will try to accommodate a request or two.

To be continued.........
Attached Images
Sky Pie 1.jpg Sky Pie 2.jpg Sky Pie 3.jpg Sky Pie 4.jpg 
Last edited by ashok777; Oct 4th, 2011 at 23:44.. Reason: Addl Images
#5 Oct 5th, 2011, 00:25
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#5
What to see around Bhagsu...

Bhagsu Nag Hindu Temple & the Bhagsu falls are famous...The rains added the lush green background with several falls trickling down the mountain.
The surprise was the Devi temple right across to sky pie...never got to find out by which name it was called but shot quiet a few pictures ...
Attached Images
Devi Temple 1.jpg Devi Temple 2.jpg Devi Temple 3.jpg Devi Temple 7.jpg Devi Temple 8.jpg Devi Temple 6.jpg Devi Temple 5.jpg Devi Temple 4.jpg 
#6 Oct 5th, 2011, 09:12
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#6
I can't wait to visit the temple. A hidden jem indeed!
#7 Oct 5th, 2011, 11:22
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#7
Tue/13Sep
Getting the feel of the layout....

The mornings started off with a bit of rain, followed by sunshine, and around 11.00am it would be dull and shady, a perfect time to set out to explore.
A typical walk from Sky Pie (Bhagsu) to Mcleod Ganj is around 2 kms and used to take us 30min. A auto-rickshaw would cost you Rs.50/-
We enjoyed walking and the scenery en-route was divine. The dense fog gave it a sort of a mystical look.
We passed Zilnon Kagyeling Nyingmapa Gompa and decided to check it out. The Gompa doors were closed and they have a cafe on site and we stopped for tea. The location is great and offers a great view to the valley. The menu prices were decent and they served a mix of tibetan/chinese dishes as well.
We tried out the Tibetan sandwich (nutella spread and Banana slices spread on a warm bread) along with Honey Lemon Ginger tea.
This was the first time I tasted tibetan bread and quiet liked it.
The gompa also provides basic rooms for Rs.100 per night and usually fills up quickly.

I support and volunteer with Mountain Cleaners, founded by Jodie Underhill, a UK Citizen and they are based in Bhagsu. It was nice to see their wall diagonally across the gompa.
Attached Images
WALL-MURAL-GROUP-PHOTO resize.jpg 
Last edited by delhiwala; Oct 13th, 2011 at 12:39.. Reason: Charity Weblink Removed
#8 Oct 5th, 2011, 12:23
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#8
Tsuglag Khang (Dalai Lama Temple Complex)
The heart of Mcleod Ganj..a 10min walk on the temple road leads to the gates of the complex. The lane in the complex, houses a few stores selling Tibetan books and handicrafts.
You clear the security (you are frisked & baggage is checked) - very efficient and polite. The atmosphere is serene and calm...unlike most religious places i have visited which mostly have long queues, noisy and everyone seems to be in a hurry.

We liked sitting on one of the benches having a direct view of the buddha shrine, watching people turning the prayer wheels, monks old and young, tibetan folk in their traditional dresses and time used to fly by.
The visit to the temple became our daily ritual and we used to spend an hour or so every day. The daily 5 km walks (to & fro) were no longer painful as our body got attuned to this daily work out.
Attached Images
Temple 1.jpg Temple 3.jpg Temple 2.jpg Temple 4.jpg 
#9 Oct 5th, 2011, 12:35
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#9
Hi Ashok,

Good trip report,would like to read more.

Regards
Kunal
#10 Oct 5th, 2011, 13:11
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#10
Wed/14Sep
Visit to Norbulingka Institute

I had heard a lot about Norbulingka and the rains were not going to stop us from visiting there.
Norbulingka is located in Sidhpur and is approx 15 kms from Mcloed Ganj.
We opted the bus ride (Mcloed Ganj to Lower Dharamsala 30min/Rs.10), connect to a bus going in the direction of Yol (Lower Dharamsala to Sidhpur 30min/Rs.7)
Get off and enter the Sacred Heart School Lane...its around 10min walk and you are at the entrance of Norbulingka.
As you enter, you will be asked if you require services of a guide (if this is your first time, do take up that offer -it's a free service and depending on the crowd, you could be part of a group or if you are lucky (as we were) be assigned one to you individually.
The guide took us around the complex, you pass the lovely cafeteria on the left,a nicely done up landscape, up the steps to a room which housed the artisans working on woodwork and metal. The course can take anywhere between 3 to 5 years (more information on their website). This followed a visit to artisans involved in Thangka paintings. We were than taken to the temple, where we decided to spend some time and the guide left us. The last and the most impressive was the store, where all the artwork was on display and for sale.
Oh..I almost forgot...the spectacular Losel Doll Museum...Pictures can say more than words..You be the judge of it....
A must see on a visit to Mcloed Ganj.
Pictures to be added shortly...
Attached Images
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Last edited by ashok777; Oct 5th, 2011 at 13:41.. Reason: Added Pictures
#11 Oct 5th, 2011, 13:50
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#11
Losel Doll Museum
Attached Images
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#12 Oct 5th, 2011, 13:58
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#12
The Temple at Norbulingka
Attached Images
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#13 Oct 5th, 2011, 14:55
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#13
You can easily spend half day on a visit to Norbulingka.
Link to their site:
http://www.norbulingka.org/

We walked back to the main road and hopped on a bus to visit Chinmaya Ashram (5min bus ride/Rs.3). You get off, cross the road, take a short cut which leads you to Tapovan road...it's a 15min walk with the most picturesque scenery en-route. You can see the majestic Dhauladhar Mountains in the background. The Ashram houses the samadhi of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda. The complex has a 9mt high statue of Lord Hanuman, a Ram Temple and also accommodates students and visitors attending spiritual camps.
Just a few minutes away is CORD, Chinmaya Organisation for Rural Development. More on CORD on this link -
http://www.chinmayamission.com/cord.php

You can also visit Guru Dhara store and purchase woollens/scarves/stoles/honey & herbal powders and support the local community.

I had attended a camp in March and attaching the pictures of that visit..you can see the snow on the mountains..
Attached Images
Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 008.jpg Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 070.jpg Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 039.jpg Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 134.JPG Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 005.jpg Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 038.jpg Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 059.jpg Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 017.jpg Vidhan Bhavan Dharamshala 034.jpg 
#14 Oct 7th, 2011, 19:04
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#14
Thu/15Sep

We decided on a trip to Shree Chamunda Devi temple and got a bus headed towards Kangra. The fare was Rs.20 and took us around 45min.
On completing the darshan, we thought of visiting the Kangra fort, but the weather (hot & sunny) and seeing a bus approaching in the direction of Dharamshala, made us change our mind and we headed back.
We were hungry and on getting back to Mcleod Ganj decided to try out the Tibet Kitchen. We tried the Thupka and got us some Veg Noodles and ended with Ginger Lemon Honey Tea which was sublime, probably the best so far.

Spent some time at the Dalai Lama Temple, browsed some shops and headed back to Bhagsu.
Attached Images
devi1.jpg 
#15 Oct 7th, 2011, 19:32
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#15
Fri/16Sep

The Family Pizzeria in Dharmkot (A pleasant surprise)

We decided to check out the trail leading to Dharamkot and set out around 11.00am. Started off from bhagsu up the stairs, past the Mystery Cafe. Enroute we passed a lodging called 'Pink House'; not to be confused with one in Mcloed and suddenly landed up at a signage which said Family Pizzeria.
They make their own dough, the pizza's are freshly made in a wood oven. We ordered a veggie with extra toppings and some honey/lemon/ginger tea.
It was a decent size (enough for two) for Rs.120, value for money and great taste. We were told that they open up around 11.00am, so don't start early.
Fueled up, we ventured further, leading to steps going down through the village of Dharmkot...passing shops and restaurants (with signs in Hebrew) till it suddenly topped out and we were in front of Vipassana Meditation Center.
This was a motor able road and thankfully the journey from here was downwards to Mcleod Ganj. We passed by a restaurant cum hotel called Flourishing Flora enroute...the road took us past TIPA and we came across a Tibetan residential area and finally ended at the main square.
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