Friday, June 18, 2010

Greenscape Vacation

For most of the year, I learn and teach. When its vacation time, I learn. And what better way to learn than to travel to places and open your mind to new cultures, meet new people and shed the comforting hubris of hometown certainties?
This summer, with a little time that my daughter's schedule permitted we decided to travel to McLeodganj which is located in the upper reaches of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh and offers the most magnificent view of the snow-covered Dhauladhar range . It is also the seat of the Tibetan government in exile and that of its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The Himachalis and the Tibetans comprise most of McLeodganj's population with a fair floating population of international visitors that include very renowned names such as Richard Gere and tourists from all over the country.

Getting there: You can take a direct train from Patna to Chakki Bank and motorised transport thereafter. Or travel to Ambala/ Amritsar/Pathankot via Delhi and travel by bus or car.Or you can fly to Delhi and on to Gaggal Airport near Dharamshala if time is limited and you have been the benficiary of the 6th pay. What we did was to take the tri-weekly Dhauladhar Express from Delhi Jn. at 22:10. The train scheduled to arrive in Pathankot at 7:55 the next morning was an hour late. That is not really surprising is it? A three hour 110 Kms taxi ride got us to McLeodganj. We checked into Surya McLeod which is one of the most centrally located hotels. Our first impression: the place is wonderfully green, very clean and plastic free. Despite a rare social deviance, there is hardly any crime, proudly stated by our taxi driver Gurdev Singh; and the people are very generous, always willing to help with directions with a smile.
The next thing I'm going to tell you about is all about McLeodganj being a foodie's delight. But I'll come back after a short break. Cheers.