Summers had set in and we were ready to explore yet another destination. We were offered accommodation in Dharamshala and so, instead of going to the unexplored places, we normally go to, we decided to visit the land of His Holiness Dalai Lama.
We went to Dharamshala from khajjiar which is near Dalhousie. It was a six nights five day trip.
Dharamshala lies on a spur of the Dhauladhar range, the Pir Panjal region of the Outer Himalayas; and commands majestic views of the mighty Dhauladhar ranges above, and the Kangra Valley below.
It is the land of awesome peaks, of Tibetan monasteries, and of meandering streams cascading down the majestic mountains rising up to 4000 feet. The gorges, wild daisies growing like a carpet of yellow n white, the springs leave you asking for more.
The main town is divided into two halves .The lower and the upper Dharamshala.
Upper Dharamshala has a distinct character of its own and is influenced by the Buddhist culture .It is known as McLeodganj and is the seat of Dalai Lama. This place reflects the Tibetan way of life and is tranquil n serene .The crisp breeze is filled with the chanting of hymns n tinkling of prayer wheels. It’s a world in its own. Heavenly, calm and breathtakingly beautiful. The locals are friendly and warm people and one can easily relate to them. The evening prayers, the meditating monks, the laughter of the little children dressed in maroon outfits, the mighty statue of Lord Buddha in gold, just takes your breath away. It was a treat to our spiritually starved soul.
Apart from the spiritual stuff, the place offers some of the mouthwatering Tibetan food, from thupkas and dimsums, to a wide variety of local food, hand woven carpets, artifacts and spiritual music and books. The place is a heaven for food lovers, the constant flow of westerners has added to its flavor with German bakeries offering delicacies, out of this world.
One can spend hours at this captivating place, walking down the trek routes, all along the hills.
The lower Dharamshala is a traveler’s base camp and a place where you can see people from across the world. It’s a busy town dotted with cyber cafes, crowded market place, restaurants, eateries, cafes and local shops.
The place is known for its beauty, elegance and charm that it expresses through the natural scenarios and the mystic ambiance. The coniferous forests and the snow capped mountains are a welcoming treat from the hustle bustle of the city life.
We were in a mood to chill out completely and didn’t want to go to usual places of tourist interest .Both the kids were ecstatic to find video parlors, cyber cafes n their favorite eating joints, and that was a bliss .We were left to do our own bit.
Loaded with ample supply of booze and the task now was to relax and find a good German café .Tucked on a hill side our search ended at a lovely café which not only offered great food but also had board games like Dominos, chess and carom and regular sessions of guitar playing.
The whole day, we explored the spectacular places like Bhagsunag waterfalls; the side of the rocky hill had been cut and paved with stones, to create a walkway to the waterfall. the path is approximately 1.5km. And very steep .it is a place one can spend hours without tiring..The water is fast and cold and one can sit on the huge boulders admiring the beauty surrounding the place.Bhagsunag also has an ancient temple of Shiva and is the ceremonial temple to First Gorkha Rifles. The monasteries and the nature trails in the forests, the local kotwali bazaar, church of St.John nestled between the wilderness and built in Gothic style , war memorial are the other places we explored , and, in the evening we returned to the café for steaks n barbecue, freshly baked breads n cakes. The owner, a young lad from Goa, was a friendly soul and after a little negotiation, allowed us to have our drinks at the far side of the café, dominated by the westerners. These hippies and regular travelers lived in their own world of dope n drinks and had little to do with anyone around .The music from their guitars and flutes floated sweetly in the night air. It was an experience of a life time for us.
Playing chess till the darkness and the cold enveloped us, we were transported to some other world .Slowly the crowd thinned and even our party broke up, but I was not in a mood to give up the intoxicating experience of the night life and persuaded our friend to stay on . Promising rest of the family, to return to the hotel, at dinner time.
It was our last night there at Dharamshala, and we wanted to make the most of it. Walking down the narrow lanes in the starlight, we saw a totally different aspect of the majestic Dhauladhars .Though most of the hill stations look the same at night; here something was captivating the senses. The air was pure n cool mixed with a heady cocktail of incense sticks and aromas coming from various road side food joints. We came across groups of hippies huddled together smoking pot or something similar.
One thing that I regretted, was taking my handy cam and not the digital camera or any other Camera for capturing the enchanting beauty of the place.
The nights are alive in Dharamshala, with so many soul cafés organizing rave nights, full of trance and techno music and dance .there are new events every night and places are mainly frequented by hippies and youngsters visiting the place.
Though I was very excited to go for an adventure of a different kind, the on growing pressure from the two male members of the group made me change my plans.
We reached the hotel well after the dinner time and sneaked into beds, only to be awakened and scolded for being so irresponsible .After a bit of buttering up things calmed down and we offered the angry lot, some scrumptious baked stuff, we had got packed on our way back.
No one was in mood to sleep so we kept chatting till the wee hours and then after a quick nap, packed our bags to say good bye to this celestial place. Getting up at around six we started our drive back to Delhi, full of happy memories and a longing to come back to this heaven on earth as soon as possible