The great Indian summer nightmare is here. And with the blazing sun on our heads, we could use some mountain magic and do away with all the grilling.
First off, I’m going to start with stressing on how immensely important it is to be dogmatic and go ahead with your plan. When we started planning from the ground up there were potentially 10 of us who signed up for a trip to Himachal Pradesh. Sequentially, the number downsized to just four of us girls. But that didn’t break us out in sweat and can the plan.
SO JUST GO.
Next important thing to do is to plan your trip well. There are abundant of beautiful places on that map and each has an exemplary chronicle to greet you. You need to sit down with your travel mates and decide the type of trip you want to take. The experiences you want to encounter. The leeways to your schedule, the must-dos. There will be disagreements, there will be agreements to far-fetched ideas you would be influenced to drop. It’s all part and parcel.
It’s important to do your groundwork. There are plenty of sites that have great discounts/offers and more often than not we tend to miss it due to our inattentive or misinformed conduct.
On the road
We decided to travel to McLeod Ganj from Delhi as the frequency of flights from Mumbai-Delhi is higher and the cost is cheaper. Alternatively, one can also opt to travel from Mumbai-Chandigarh to save some time. We decided on a night journey from Delhi to McLeod Ganj to have us more time in the day to explore the city. At around 6 in the morning, on our way to McLeod Ganj, our driver told us about Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara and asked us if we would like to visit it as it’s considered a famous Gurudwara. We didn’t plan on going there, but we were much excited to deviate a bit. It was the perfect start to the trip. The beauty and serenity of the place got us all the more excited for the days ahead.
With roads full of stunning sights, yummy khadaprasad and a hell lot of excitement we reached to our hotel in McLeod Ganj. Hotel Wood Castle on Jogiwara Road situated in the main market. The hotel has a very a good staff and the owner is very friendly and cooperative with your requests. The service and food are good. The hotel also has an amazing view. We got a great deal on this stay through Goibibo.com
After refreshing ourselves, we set out to explore the streets. The streets of McLeod Ganj have some really exquisite things to shop and food that will satiate your taste buds. There are some really enticing cafes serving fresh and appetizing food, but we couldn’t cover them all. Here’s a list of the cafe we visited and by the first-hand experience let me tell you they are great!
1. Hope Cafe (They have good breakfast food with a serene ambience. Also, the owners are quite cooperative with your food preferences)
2. Seed Cafe (They have live music on weekends and you sure don’t want to miss that)
3. Cafe illiterati (MAJOR recommendation on this one! This place just spells magic)
4. Shiva Cafe (It’s up against the Bhagsu waterfalls and has a fascinating view. It’s a great hangout place. Do try some Nutella bread and hot chocolate here!)
5. Tibet Quality bakery (It’s a roadside bakery on Jogiwara road and everything they serve is scrumptious)
Other things to do around here…
1. There are pretty monasteries so you can go visit some local place of worship.
2. This town is also home to Dalai Lama so you can visit the Dalai Lama temple and if you’re lucky to have him around when you visit you might actually be able to meet him!
3. The Triund Trek! It’s a moderate level trek with a panoramic view of Bhagsu Village, McLeod Gang, Dharamshala and Kangra Valley. Ensure you start early so you can reach up on time and enjoy the sunset. You need to pack a few warm clothes for the night as it can get pretty cold up there.
We used McLeod Ganj as our base but decided to visit a few places around.
Dharamshala is a delightful city, full of fresh air and lovely people.
Do, do do visit the HCPA Stadium. It’s indeed one of the most thrilling stadium views in India.
Also, there’s a really small village called Naddi and they have the best sunsets you must have witnessed.
Moving ahead on our journey, next destination was Bir Billing.
Bir-Billing is really small peaceful town. We had chosen to stay in a Zostel. You can check out the property here – https://www.zostel.com/zostel/bir/
Zostel at Bir Billing is considered to be one of the most comely zostel in the country. Also, it’s an amazing experience to stay and connect with people you’d astonished to meet. They have a really clean place and finger-licking yummy food at a very affordable price. Plus, you can’t put a price on the interesting people you’ll meet.
However, the main purpose of coming to this village was to go paragliding. Not a lot of people know this but Bir billing has hosted the first ever world cup of paragliding in the world! The takeoff site here has got incredibly smooth and favourable winds for a perfect and easy takeoff. And a well-equipped landing site.
You can ask the reception desk at Zostel to hook you up with good paragliding operators. They also have had discounts for zostel guests.
Post the paragliding if you want to cool off and relax from all the ecstatic emotions that you have just experienced, visit Silver Linings cafe. It’s a 5-minute walk from the landing site. A quaint cafe almost unnoticeable along the trail serves to be abundant to provide some fresh delicious food and good times.
You can also rent a bicycle here and go mountain biking or just explore the local streets.
1. The best time to visit these places is from March to June.
2. You can pick a centre base and visit more places around McLeod Ganj/Dharamshala/Bir Billing.
3. I would highly recommend paragliding at Bir Billing. It has been a delightful experience.
4. There are plenty of public services available through Himachal Tourism and taxis so you don’t have to worry about your means of transport. Also, the people here are really nice and helpful so feel free to ask for help, if needed.
5. Remember you do not litter around or make a lot of noise at these places.
6. It could rain or hailstorm for the Triund trek so please do carry your monsoon wears, caps and gloves.