Mani prayer wheels at the smaller temple in McLeodganj
It was a bumpy ride towards the end. When I stepped out of the bus at Dharamsala
it was 5 o' clock and pretty cold and dark. I dawdled around a bit, found my way up to the main road and started looking for any boarding that might be open. It was terribly quiet and deserted, nothing was open. Meantime a taxi was going through and the driver asked me if I needed to go to McLeod-ganj. Apparently thats were most of the tourists stay and so more lodges/hotels are available, so I took the 7 km or so ride up the mountainside to McLeodganj. Found a guy who showed me a decent room too, so I crashed there till the morning was bright.
I asked a few shop owners if there was any organized tour for the place.
Idol of Lord Buddha.
Turns out though that most of the interesting places are walkable from McLeod ganj. So I did some window shopping, checking out all the Tibetan arty stuff and handicrafts, on my way to the Dalai Lama temple. Between two main streets, there is a Buddhist temple too, with a lot of Mani prayer wheels surrounding it on all four sides. The thing that is most striking about Dharamsala is doesn't feel much like India or Himachal Pradesh as such. There are so many tibetan people there, it kind of feels like another country. Even most of the stores and businesses there display Tibetan stuff, and there are signboards written in Tibetan everywhere. Just another place which impresses on you the sense of immense diversity that lies with India. And when you see the surrounding towns, you can notice how smoothly this difference blends with the surroundings, the diversity blending into the country as a whole!
Around noon I was looking through the Dalai Lama temple, admiring all the intricately and floridly beautiful statues, tapestries and wall paintings inside the temple rooms.
Tapestries on the temple walls.
Relaxed there for a while in the calm environment and rotated some Mani-prayer-wheels. On my way back to the main square in McLeod ganj I stopped for a quick lunch of steamed chicken-momos. Looked at most of the roadside shops for something worth taking that wouldn't be too bulky. The 'Thangka' paintings are excellent there, but quite expensive. Didn't wanna carry any such expensive thing in my haphazardly packed backpack.
Next I decided to walk to Bhagsunag water fall. It is a few kilometers from McLeodganj. There is the village of Bhagsunag on the way, and an old temple of Shiva is also there, right next to a public swimming pool for men. After the village there is a climb of few hundred feet to the fall itself. There are a lot of people usually chilling out around the fall, and downstream from it in the rocky stream.
The sky was clear. I sat near the falls for a while, with my feet in the cold water and basking in the bright warm sun.
On the way back I had some iced tea and momos at a restaurant along the path from Bhagsunag to McLeod. This is a restaurant situated on the side of the mountain on the slope and a shaded open deck. The view from here is particularly nice, one can see all the way down to the valley and the surrounding mountains and most of Dharamsala. I reached McLeod's main square after a bit of shopping. It was going to get dark in maybe less than an hour, so I hurried toward Dal lake. I walked all the way to the lake, taking a brief look at the old cathedral on the way.
Dal lake is a small pond, which is holy. There is a temple next to the lake. Dal lake itself is nothing exceptional, a muddy colored almost oval ditch almost surrounded by a jungle but right next to another settlement and quite close to a military cantonment.
One can do some paddle boating in the lake. Some people feed the fish in the lake, and you can see these big catfish coming up to the surface and opening wide mouths to eat, but hardly visible through the brown waters. I took a rickshaw back to town - they are quite expensive, compared to the majority of India.
After some rest, I set out to look for a good dinner place and a hangout for the night. I checked out a few restaurants, but either there were very few people or it was strictly an eat only place. Finally decided to have a drink, dinner at Carpe Diem restaurant. It seems to be a popular hangout for tourists there. Some US students group was having a birthday party. I sat on the terrace for dinner and a beer. Met some tourists there and talked for a while.
Painted wall in the temple.
Then sat playing cards with them till it was closing time. Welcome change from the rest of the trip, didn't get to socialize much at other places being alone.
-- Ashish Bhambhani