Travel tips & insights to McLeod Gang, Dharamshala and Bir Billing.

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.

Travel tips:

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.

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Book review : Me before you by Jojo Moyes.

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Me before you. The recommendations to read this book were so promising that I skip a lot of books from my list and jumped onto this one. Devanshi, who I like to call my book sister was gushing all about it from the time she has read it and was in for a long impatient wait until I read it and discussed all with her. Now that I’m done but not yet dusted with this book here’s what I think of it.
I started off with the book taking in the story of a impoverish girl holding up her family financially so that her family can live up their social and educational aspirations. Louisa Clark is somehow succumbed to feel like she’s not the brightest one of the lot. But as you dive yourself into Jojo Moyes’ narrations you can picture a girl full of life and with a sparkle in her eyes. She’s intelligent, bright, funny, compassionate and afraid to show this side of hers, to the world. Just like the many of us. Losing her job due to unforeseen circumstances she lands up being a caregiver for Will Traynor. He’s a finance company owner, adventurous, living life to the fullest being turned into a quadriplegic cripple. Our prince charming was stuck in a dark corner of his huge castle when Louisa walks into his life with her bright spirits and brighter clothes. The chemistry between the two is quite prevalent from the time they’re introduced to the other. The book advances with each of them helping the other to gain a wider and newer perspective on life. And as you join them in their journey you learn a lot about love and life. Like, you should not seek for someone that completes you but someone that compliments you. Often in a relationship, we are too caught up in finding someone who can fill the blank for us but lovers are not for the play of fill in the blanks. We need someone to understand our flaws and strengths both and give us the power to shine with a perspective that we will never be able to see for ourselves. Once you meet someone like that you’ll start filling in the blanks yourself. For them. And of course, reciprocation is the key. You give what you get. In love? All the more. There are a lot of moments in the book that made cry. Sometimes it just left me in such an abstract space that I had to close the book and let my thoughts haul at me so that Will and Louisa’s reactions seem legit. The story is tender yet harsh but above all beautifully written. It makes you cry, laugh, it’s a roller coaster of emotions!image

With all the love and air around this book you may see ‘Me before You’ to be an all romantic novel, but if you dig deeper you’ll realise it’s a thought-provoking book that speaks more life than on love.

Rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! 🙂

5 entrepreneurial skills I learned in Mumbai Locals

The city of Mumbai works on local trains that operate efficiently and to give you the facts it is spread over 465 kilometres, the suburban railway operates 2,342 train services and carries more than 7.5 million commuters daily. By annual ridership (2.64 billion), the Mumbai Suburban Railway is the busiest rapid transit system in the world. So the tag ‘lifeline’ is totally justified. The narrative versions of each commuter on mundane affairs are boundless. It could mean getting inspired by a 60 year old woman trying to subsidize life by earning a living beyond bare necessities or fret over swamped compartments. I have bounteous inwardness to give away and I choose to tell 5 entrepreneurial skills that I learned in the Mumbai locals.

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Here are they:

1. Punctuality.

1 minute of delay to catch the train you commonly take, can cost you snide looks from your boss, a half day pay (maybe even overtime) and unnecessary stress. And to start your day with so much antagonism is something we all want to avoid. Hence, we try to reach on time or at least just in time to make sure we don’t miss the train.

2. Negotiate

Mumbai Locals will let you learn and use your negotiation skills synchronously. After all the squabble and bickering when you finally get in, it’s difficult to survive. It’s time to dust off your negotiation skills and put them to use by asking the fellow commuters when are they going to get down? So you can secure the seat after them.

3. There’s always place for more!

When you think your plate is full and you can’t squeeze any more tasks at hand, come check the infamous fourth seat of the train.

4. Get tough

There are 7.5 million commuters transmitting daily and to get in, in the span 40 seconds to one minute is not easy. You need to build a strong guard, make sure you climb in without someone pulling your hair or transforming your clothes in raggedly fashion. It just doesn’t end here you need to be tough to be able to stand steadily for under an hour because chances are you won’t get a seat till Dadar.

5. Charity

As a entrepreneur it is very important that you give back to the society. I see an act of kindness when a passenger wary from their day who probably looks more stale than a day old bread, offers his/her seat to the 40 year old who’s not only struggling the chaos of life but also fighting the inevitable debacle of their age.

It is crazy what these perilous, unstable, swamped 12 compartments hold for you.