Coming from the land that cradled Buddhism, I looked forward to my trip to Dharamshala, another city with a predominant Buddhist culture. Born and brought up in Bihar, the prime weekend getaway in the state was either to Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda or Vaishali. Hence, I was not entirely unfamiliar to concepts like stupas, thangkas, pagodas and prayer wheels.
Dharamshala is all about colourful Tibetan flags, rolling prayer wheels and the collective sound of the ringing bells and chirping birds. My first day was dedicated to exploring the beautiful Norbulingka Institute of Tibetan Culture. Built in a traditional Tibetan style, the institute is set in a lovely garden of meandering paths, ponds, flowing streams and bridges. The serenity here is a refreshing respite from the ever honking and bustling of city life.
Day two saw the adventurer in me setting off on a trek to Triund. The nine kilometre trek from Mcleodganj to Triund provides a panoramic view of Kangra Valley. The trek gradually steepened and the roads narrowed as I ascended. To my respite, a small snack shop midway, provided refreshments. A soothing cup of the most delicious adrakki chai and a few biscuits later, I headed further up, making my way through a narrow, stony route that led me up to the highest point of the hill. The view from atop was better than I expected. Locals told me that it’s also called ‘Magic View Mountain’ because of the panoramic vista it offered.
Another interesting but not as exhausting, was the two kilometre trek to Bhagsu Falls on my third day of the trip. The effect of the cold water and the lush greenery around made it a perfect site to rejuvenate myself as I enjoyed the overarching scenic beauty. Bhagsu Temple is the main attraction here. As much as Dharamshala and Mcleodganj are known for its mountainous views, the food in these parts is quasi gourmet! From pancakes to paranthas, from momos to maggi, from thupkas to tea, every café has a variety of dishes to offer, each in their own signature style. The two cafes particularly popular are the Four Seasons and Jimmy’s. Every tourist must try the famous Tibetan butter tea; an interesting sweet-salty mix.
Shopping in Dharamshala has plenty to offer. Tibetan silver jewellery, ‘Free Tibet’ t-shirts, thangkas, mini prayer wheels and colourful Tibetan flags. While the high prices may put you off initially, put your bargaining skills to the test for a better deal.
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