macleodganj

 

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21 May 2013 Back here again, after only 23 years. It is a much busier place than I remember, the central square (the size of a small roundabout) clogged with four or five cars and trucks everyone leaning on their horn. Shops with bright lights all around the ‘square.’ Not a great first impression. But I walked down a road away from the noise and almost immediately saw the Hotel Kailash, where I had stayed in 1990. I took their last room, ate well and had a couple of beers in their restaurant, and wove off to bed.

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Nostalgia satisfied, and with the time to search, I checked out a couple of other hotels that might be a bit quieter. And have a toilet that flushes. And enough water pressure for a shower. Picky, I know… I am now settled in the Green Hotel, nice bathroom (amazing how important that becomes), no fan but comfortable at night nonetheless. The Green has a nice restaurant, with comfortable chairs and wifi. I may be here for a while :) Wandered up the hill to Dharamkhot a couple of kilometres away on the way towards Triund (a hike I want to repeat, nostalgia again), through trees. It was pleasant walking in the cool shade of the trees, but very steep going. The locals have strong legs. I think I have an idea where the trail goes; I’ll find out in a day or two. I did see a very pale (maybe albino?) monkey.

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22 May 2013 The Green Hotel Restaurant is busy this morning, nowhere to sit, so I moved up the road a little to the Kulga Guesthouse. Their latté’s are not quite as good but life goes on. A venerable-looking sadhu (Hindu holy man) comes through the door of the restaurant and raises a conch-shell to his lips. “No…” exclaims one of the (Tibetan) staff and dives for the till, gives a coin to the sadhu. The sadhu looks at the coin in his hand unimpressed, then back up at the waiter. Waiter, equally unimpressed, stares back. Sadhu leaves.

Had a nice afternoon today, walking the short distance to Bhagsu and up to a waterfall. Below the waterfall, groups of monks were doing their laundry in the creek. 

 

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The busker at the side of the trail up to the waterfall was Rajasthani, I think. At least, I remember similar dress and performances in Rajasthan.

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The waterfall, as is common in Asia, was oversold. Living in Canada, where we do waterfalls rather well, I am spoilt by the trickles that seem to excite those who live in hot climates.

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A few minutes further up the trail was the stone-built Shiva Café, outside which locals and a not-so-old but well-worn-looking hippie were getting stoned. Or, more likely, maintaining their high. Strange to realise that I don’t even know whether dope’s legal here; at this stage in my life, it doesn’t seem too relevant – I’m not sure it would add anything to the fun I’m already having. I did spend a pleasant couple of hours at the Shiva, relaxing over a salted lassi, reading, enjoying the sunshine and surrounding landscape, catching the occasional whiff of sweet secondhand smoke. When I left, quite a crowd had gathered inside the café, Indians and backpackers, some rolling up. There was a nice collection of rock paintings:

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Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a striking woman descending a steep path on the other side of the water. I reached for my camera but was too late. Then she sat down not far from me, with her male companion, so I got my picture anyway:

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I stopped for a cuppa on the way back at a little roadside shack, watching an ‘Indians versus Tibetans’ match of what looked like a cross between shove-ha’penny and snooker. Fun, welcoming, friendly vibe. Now, I’m sitting on the veranda outside my room, under a soon to be full moon; it feels about 20°, very comfortable. 11:00 pm but I’m not quite ready for bed yet.

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I walked up to Triund and decided spontaneously to spend a night there, but that is the subject of another post: dmorg.org/triund.

Macleodganj is the home of the Dalai Lama, when he is not travelling the world and promoting the Tibetan cause, and that explains the number of backpackers/yogis/western Buddhists who seem to congregate there. There certainly was a higher proportion of ‘travellers’ than I’d seen elsewhere in my Indian travels.

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I finally had to drag myself away from Macleod, to the amazement of one of my fellow guests in the Hotel Green: “You’re not waiting for His Holiness? He’ll be here in a couple of days.” No wonder the hotels were full.

3 Comments

  1. Hello! So glad to come across your blog. I am a Tibetan from India. I am from Mcleod Ganj and live in Calgary now. I have been to all these places, from shimla, sangla, spiti, udaipur, to kishtwar. I backpacked to ladakh, spiti and kishtwar by buses and cars, but not by a bike. :D way to go! it is awesome that you went to Mcleod back in the 1990’s! Yes, Mcleod is very noisy now, especially in the peak tourist season. Wish you many more travels.
    Cheers,
    Tenzin

  2. Hi Tenzin, I’m just going over my blog and fixing a few broken links, came across your comment from August 20 and realised that I hadn’t replied to or acknowledged it. Apologies for that oversight. Do I mention Calgary in my blog somewhere? Possibly, or you might not have commented on it. Well, I live in Calgary, too (if you didn’t know). Lots of snow and cold at the moment! I’m not cycling to work in this!

    • Hi Dave, yah I think you mentioned somewhere in your blog that you live in Calgary. Probably the part where you talked about your flight and luggage (bike) from YYC to Heathrow. I have seen some people biking down Edworthy park and Memorial even on thick piles of snow early in the morning, commuting to work perhaps.

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