McLeodganj 2015

McLeodganj nun
This lady was spinning the prayer wheel in the main McLeodganj Buddhist temple. I pulled out my camera and ran up to face here. She looked up and smiled at me. Next thing she made me go around this temple. This was the most spiritual experience I had there. Click here to see the complete collection.

Ushering in the new year had to be different this time in some way and the call came from good old McLeodganj, Dharamshala. Our friend Ani planned out much of it and we decided to spend a long year-end vacation in the small Tibetan

Arjun Kariyal Photography
Kid and monk talking. McLeodganj has a photo opp at every corner. All you need to do is click.

town. It was bitterly cold in Delhi and the BholeNath Volvo drove all the way from Delhi to Chandigarh at 30kmph. Bus journeys have become very comfortable lately. Our previous trips were to Manali and Beawar in Rajasthan. Though the roads have not changed much, these Volvos have made road travelling a pleasure. Some of them have free wi-fi on board which sadly work only sometimes. The plug points next to every seat are thoughtful though. There is a stopover at a roadside dhaba typically.

Some brilliant coffee art happening at Cafe Moon Peak, McLeodganj.
Some brilliant coffee art happening at Cafe Moon Peak, McLeodganj.

We reached Dharamshala early morning and checked in at Zambala Hotel. The rooms were nice and the washrooms were clean; which is all we really needed since we spent all day walking around McLeodganj. One of Ani’s friends runs Moon Peak Restaurant so we had breakfast there. The guys who run this joint make amazing coffee and their creativity shows on top of the coffee they leave with the Hershey’s and cream. The one thing we noticed around here was the peace between dogs, monkeys and humans. The local mutts were dozing off in the winter sun, inside restaurants and all over the streets. None of them were barking or fighting at all. Too much peace.

Red Bull cans separated from other trash on the trek to Triund, McLeodganj
Red Bull cans separated from other trash on the trek to Triund, McLeodganj

By day three we had scanned much of the streets and cafe’s here, so we figured it was time to stretch our ligaments a little more. We walked down to St. John’s Church on day two. We had heard much of a trek to Triund- a snow covered peak 7 kilometers further up. Though my wife and I are reasonably fit and run regularly, this was no cake-walk. On the 31st morning we started to trek up. The road disappeared in a few hundred meters and it was more like what we see in The Lord of the Rings as we trekked over stones and rocks. There was a path but it narrowed in most places and got steeper as we reached the top. Most of the trekkers were in their early 20s so this was clearly going to be good workout. Half-way up there was a cafe which served a bottle of water and Coke for Rs 50 each. What was delightful was that the trekkers and locals had separated the waste in metals, plastic and organic in three separate bags. There was this pile of Red Bull cans separated from the other trash.

its the last kilometer that is the toughest. There is a tendency to ask people returning on how much more to go for the top. The standard response was- ‘Oh just a little bit more but its worth it.’ We reached Triund top by 2pm. It was cold but pleasant up here. We met Vijay who we chatted up with at Moon Peak restaurant. The three of us had tea up here, took some selfies and headed back to town. Here’s my 360 degree Photosphere from Triund.

We met Sami Siva, who’s works were pretty awesome actually, and that includes his cooking. We later met at Hotel Tibet for lunch where the Tibetan chopseuy was the most delicious non-vegetarian meal I had had in a long time.

I decided to carry my camera with me despite the bulk. Its a Canon 500D with a Tamron 18-270mm lens- my best travel kit yet. Here are some photos taken in that blissful one week. This was one sketch I made while I was there.

Happy New Year!

Arjun Kariyal McLeodganj sketch
Arjun Kariyal McLeodganj sketch

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