The moment you breathe the fresh air of Mcleodganj, you feel the vibe of romance and adventure intertwined together. If you are looking for a honeymoon destination or a place to escape your over-interfering parents or you are on a lookout for some adventure activities, then Mcleodganj is the place for you. Situated right in the suburb of
Dharamshala in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, this picturesque location astounds you with its splendid and alluring landscape. Once you are here, you never have to worry about a single thing, the people are friendly and warm, they greet you with a smile that will melt your heart. The `pahadi` people are the nicest and the most helpful people you will find in India.
Mcleodganj is so beautiful that it will not be an exaggeration to say that the pictures online don’t do justice to the place; it is simply stunning in its natural habitat. Though one can say that the ongoing commercialisation is slowly taking out the charm out of Mcleodganj. The chill of the winter that lingers at night, clouds like the petals of a rose, the Sun glistening like threads of gold looks so heavenly that one will definitely fall in love with this little piece of heaven.
Famous for giving shelter to Dalai Lama at the Tsuglag Khang [Dalai Lama Temple], Mcleodganj is also known for its nearby tourist destinations like Bhagsu Nag waterfall, St. John`s Church, Namgyal Monastery, Dal Lake etc. But the jewel in the crown of Mcleodganj is Triund which is an 8-10 kms trek [3 to 4 hours] depending on from where you start i.e. Dharamkot or Bhagsu Nag.
I organised a trip last October to win the Indrahara Pass, which is almost a 12 hour trek from Triund. On your way, one can take a pit stop at Laka [Snowline] which is two hours away from Triund. At Laka, you can hog onto a meal of dal chawal or a bowl of soupy maggi at the Snowline Cafe, where `Chachu`, an entertaining 58-year-old man will serve you with love. Once you regain your lost energy, you can start for Lahesh Caves which is almost four hours away [4 kms], the trek from Laka to Lahesh Caves is quite steep and is a medium level trek. First time trekkers should take a guide along with themselves. The route after Laka is very confusing and one would require an expert person to accompany them on this trek.
As per our plan, we started from Connaught Place, Delhi with a 12-member team towards Bhagsu Nag which is 2 Km away from Mcleodganj market. We made our usual stop at Sukhdev`s Dhaba at Murthal for dinner, where the team relished `parathas` with curd and white butter accompanied by `Dal makhni` as a side dish. The drive was comfortable and after the initial burst of introductions, the team slept throughout the way till Una.
The first ray of light at Una welcomed us with a faint shower and a dusty sky. Gradually everyone in the bus woke up and their faces bloomed like a flower, the landscape was so beautiful, just as a fresh dream of a faraway land. After taking a tea break at Kinnu, we continued our journey. It was almost 11 am when we reached Bhagsu, where 6 more people joined us including three guides who helped us scale the Indrahara Pass. Due to some confusion porters could not be arranged, so we kept most of our stuff in our tempo traveler and repacked our rug sacks with bare minimum ~ hiking stick, sleeping bag, a bottle of water, basic energy food like chocolates and dry fruits, and some warm clothes. We started the trek from Bhagsu Nag market area at 1.30 pm.
Tired as I was, the sleepless night a day before costed me a lot. I completed the 3 hours trek in almost 5 hours with a lot of difficulty. At one point, when I reached the `Magic View Cafe` I was completely drained out of energy. I took a lot of breaks in between. Our guides motivated us to the best of their ability.
Everyone depending upon their physical fitness completed the trek till Triund on an average of 3 to 5 hours. It felt so good when I saw the flicker of light at the other side of the mountain. I could see my goal and the last leg of the trek was steep but I forced myself to do it as soon as possible. The guys were really helpful, they carried most of the load with them and gave minimum baggage to us girls. By the time we all reached there, it was already night, and one could see the mountains on the other side like frozen wrinkles on a sea. I was mesmerized by the view that was in front of me. It was very crowded the day we were there as it was the weekend, so we could not get hold of tents. Finally after much request to the PWD guest house, we managed to get their hall for 18 of us. The hot plate of rice and dal tasted so good after the day’s trek that it was finished in no time. By 10.30 pm we were inside our sleeping bags, the cold was getting on our nerves as the sleeping bags were without zips and it rained all night long. Somehow we slept through the night bearing with the body ache as if our bodies were broken into turning wheels.
The first bright drop of light that glimmered that morning felt like a piece of gem in a monarch’s crown. It was still pale and grave when we woke up, with my camera in one hand and a hot cup of tea in another. I waited to see the miracle of nature – Sun rise from the silent bottoms of nowhere. Goal for today was to reach Lahesh Caves by evening. People travelling with us were first-time trekkers, so some of them felt that the trek was too demanding. Three people decided to go back to Bhagsu Nag, and spend some time at the in(famous) Shiva Cafe. So now we were 15 in total, out of which four of us stayed at Laka at the Snowline Cafe as going further would mean exhausting oneself, I was one of them. I could not go beyond Snowline, my leg cramp was killing me and staying at Laka seemed like a wise decision. We all reached Laka at 1 pm, and after having lunch, eleven people started towards backbreaking trek to Lahesh Caves. They carried food with them which they planned to cook there. Ten packets of maggi, five cubes of cheese, five packets of tomato soup, a bottle of jam, loaves of bread, loads of chocolates, utensils and dry wood to light the fire for cooking with many bottles of energy drinks. While we were sitting comfortably at Laka, the team that went ahead faced many challenges from getting lost in the mountains for hours to climbing boulders, lighting the fire for cooking to keeping people warm, getting water from the stream to eating ice. While we at Laka enjoyed the sun set, the team at Lahesh Caves had a hard time getting things together. With only sleeping bags to their rescue they tested their limits. Cold weather and limited food supply to be shared between eleven people seemed like a daunting task.
While we came back to Dharmkot the next day, there was no trace of the team that went ahead. They planned to reach Indrahara Pass that day, so we waited and waited all day, all night in vain. No news from them. They were supposed to come back by 8 pm but they didn’t turn up. We freaked out to the core, bad thoughts were crossing our mind. Finally when we didn’t hear from them, we checked in a hotel around midnight, and waited for some news from the other side. By that time half of Bhagsu Nag knew that eleven people were lost up in the mountains.
The next morning our guide called up and informed that everything was alright and they will come back to Dharmkot by evening. I breathed a sigh of relief. The whole day me and three other people from the group roamed around Mcleodganj market where we shopped and tasted Tibetan food at Four Seasons and Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen. Finally around 6.30 pm the group returned and we boarded the bus from Bhagsu for Delhi.