February 18th, 2010 – by: Sads79
With Adam, Birgit, Andy and Yve (left to right)
Our next plan was to head up into the hills, and with some members of the party not willing to take the 7-hour local bus, we hired a car and driver to take us up to McLeod Ganj. It was pretty pricey I thought - INR3,500 (£50/$70), but I was out-voted so went along with the group decision. It was certainly more comfortable than the bus would've been, although our driver did his best to get us smashed off the road with all sorts of dubious overtaking manoeuvres which had Birgit and Adam in particular feeling quite nauseous. But as Yve rightly said, he's Indian and he's going to drive the Indian way! We wound our way up to 1,750m and by the time we arrived in McLeod Ganj we could feel the chill.
...brrr! Birgit had reserved a place for us, Om Hotel, which turned out to be a great little choice - all the rooms led out onto balconies which had stunning views down to the valley below - we got there just in time to see an awesome sunset...magical! After a little squabble over rooms allocations, we wandered about and got some dinner. McLeod Ganj is known as being a Tibetan enclave and is where the Dalai Lama resides with his Tibetan government-in-exile. so we thought it only right and proper to try some traditional Tibetan dishes - 'chow chow' is a kind of noodle based dish, which I have to say was rather average and bland. Oh well, you have to try everything once don't you! We went to the bar upstairs and had a few beers to relax and had fun watching an awful rock band murder songs by the Beatles and Nirvana. Andy had snuck a couple of bottles of vodka and rum back to the hotel and with nothing to drink with them we proceeded to start doing straight shots.
..all a bit random, but it certainly helped keep the chills at bay for the night...
Great views from Nick's Kitchen at breakfast....
Andy was struggling the next morning - we headed to breakfast at Nick's Kitchen (which had a beautiful rooftop restaurant) and heard him throwing up as we were all ordering....quite amusing and the rest of us were all tip-top! The sun was out and McLeod Ganj showed what a beautiful, peaceful and relaxing place it is. We strolled around the streets, finding less hassle than we had elsewhere so far (even Yve, being blond wasn't stared at quite as much!) and walked to the Tsuglagkhang Complex of Tibetan temples.
While the temples were nice, the best thing to do here is go to the Tibetan museum (entry just INR 5), its an absolute must-see. I have to admit that before I came here I knew little about the Tibetan struggle, but I certainly left knowing a whole lot more and feeling a lot of sympathy for their plight. Its amazing to think that its 51 years since the current 13th Dalai Lama was escorted from Tibet into exile in India by the CIA, and he's still campaigning as hard as ever for their autonomy from China. His peaceful mantra exuberates everywhere up here and its hard not to want to be a better person just from being in this place. The afternoon continued in a relaxed fashion with tea and cakes at One-Two Cafe and dinner at Nick's. I said my goodbyes to Andy, Yve and Birgit who were going to be off early in the morning on a mission to get to Jaisalmer. I was going my own way...Agra and the Taj Mahal beckoned.
India has some of the best sunsets!
McLeod Ganj Hotels & Accommodations review
Views to die for!
Number one selling point of this place are the views - all the rooms walk out onto a balcony that looks straight down onto the hills and plains below … read entire review