Dhauladhar ranges stand still, grey clouds kiss the mountain peaks, green meadows sparkle with sun ray and an all pervading silence- this is what defines Mcleodganj, India’s mini Tibet in the Kangra Valley of Himachal. A trip to Mcleodganj came as a surprise gift from my husband on my first birthday after marriage this July. Our first romantic vacation, call it a honeymoon or a weekend trip, the silence and scenic beauty of Mcleodganj crossed all boundaries to spread the note of romance in the air.
The bus departed from Himachal Bhavan, New Delhi sharp at 8:00 p.m. and crossing the congested lanes of Old Delhi it made its way to Karnal. I simply could not take away my eyes from the clear wide windows of the bus that traversed across the broad winding roads of Chandigarh highway. Lots of colorful dhabas came our way which are famous for North Indian paranthas. Our bus halted in one and we tried out the delicious ‘aalo parantha’. In one word its taste was just heavenly. Again the bus started and I closed my eyes for a comfortable good night’s sleep. The real story began next day early morning at 5: 00 a.m. when I opened my eyes to the morning sun. A whole new world of sun-kissed mountains, blooming flower valleys, green meadows and broad zigzag roads welcomed us with open arms. Utter silence, roads ornamented by hut shaped houses, birds sitting on rhododendron trees; a thin river partially covered with rocks flowing below drew the image of a perfect countryside. Slowly the bus crossed Dharamshala and made its way to Mcleodganj (some 9- 10kms from Dharamshala). Holding the hands of my beloved I started breathing in the cool pleasant air of romance and serenity.
As we walked down to our hotel crossing the chowk (the only market area in Mcleodganj), I felt like I came to a different world altogether. Birds chirping, shops closed at 6:30am and few local Tibetan people brushing teeth and singing holy chants by the roadside. A lot of maroon and yellow dressed Lamas came our way as we walked up and down the steep hilly roads. After checking in at the hotel as I stepped out in the balcony I could see the snow-clad Dhauladhar range from close quarters. No obstruction, no chores, only tranquility adorned the entire region. With a glass of juice I ditched all worries to soak in the utmost beauty of nature. Far away thin roads and tiny hamlets made up the Dharamkot village. After spending quite some time with nature, I made my way to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama Temple. Though it won’t look like a temple from outside, but the moment we went inside, we got to catch the heavenly side of Lord Buddha and several Lamas reciting holy chimes and walking around the temple. Perched on top of the hills, the Dalai Lama Temple is a world full of holiness, serenity and ethereal beauty.
There is actually not much to do in Mcleodganj. But sitting by the roadside cafes at a high altitude facing the mountains will let time pass at the swap of fingers. A cup of hot Café Latte and homemade chocolate walnut cake reenergized my romantic mood like never before. Me and my husband could not resist taking some stunning shots of temporary roadside stalls, mountain peaks and floating clouds that came our way. Next day we started on with our trek to Triund, the highest point in Mcleodganj. Dense oak covered jungles, few monkeys and a dog became our temporary partners. The trekking route was devoid of human world and sunlight was gently peeping through the tall trees. After 4 hours we reached Triund which was a similar picture of heaven on earth. Ice covered mountains, floating clouds, chill blowing wind and a cup of hot tea- we both got lost in our world of love. Resting our foot for an hour we started to come down, this time by a cab from midway. The sky was absolutely clear after sunset and I could almost count the stars above.
That night turned out to be more beautiful when we tried out authentic Japanese cuisine at Lung Ta, an open terrace restaurant. Hot Japanese noodles and a delicious omelet was a perfect match to our romantic mood. It was really sad to think that it was our last night at India’s heavenly Little Tibet. Next day morning we painfully bided adieu to the hospitable Tibetans and boarded the bus for our way back to Delhi. As it slowly moved down leaving the mountains behind, the valleys came closer and we approached plain land. After 10 hours when I opened the doors of my house I thought where could I hang the innumerable clicks we took of this heaven in earth?