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Mcleod Ganj Tourism And Travel Guide
5.3° C / 41.5° F
April to June
2 to 5 Days
Kangra Airport (20 kms)
Pathankot Station (35 kms)
The beautiful Suburb of McLeod Ganj is located in the Kangra District of Himachal. At an average height of 7,000 ft., this hill station is decked up in thick pine and deodar forests and dotted with monasteries, shrines and quaint houses. McLeod Ganj is also lovingly known as Little Lhasa for its Tibetan settlement and for being the residence of the 14th Dalai Lama. Though it is a small town, there are numerous reasons why it is a place worth visiting. Here is an overview that will help you find yours.
How To Reach
The best way to reach McLeod Ganj would be to take a flight from Delhi to Gaggal and from there take a cab to McLeod Ganj. There are a lot of budget options like trains and buses. Here are all your options.
By Air: The Gaggal or Kangra Airport is the closest airport to McLeod Ganj. There are flight services from Delhi almost every day. Most other major Indian cities have at least one flight that has a layover at Delhi.
By Rail: The nearest broad gauge railway station is the one in Pathankot, 35 km away from McLeod Ganj. There are some narrow gauge trains that will go up to Kangra, but these are quite slow. There are buses from both stops to Dharamsala. To reach McLeod Ganj you can avail a cab from here or from the railway station directly.
By Road: A number of state and private buses are run from Delhi, Shimla, and Chandigarh. They usually leave once a day and the tickets can be purchased online. Once there, you can avail cabs to get around.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit McLeod Ganj with the best weather and road conditions would be summer, but that doesn’t mean the other seasons don’t have their charm. Here is what each season looks like.
Summer (April to June) : Being the most popular time to visit, summers can get very crowded and most accommodations may up their prices. But that being said, the cool temperatures up here give a much needed release from the summer heat elsewhere. The day time average is about 25°C.
Monsoon (July to September) : The monsoons are usually quiet here, with almost constant rain and mist. It is a bad time for trekking and other out-door activities; but if you are planning a long trip, this can be the right time.
Winter (October to February) : Winter is the most charming time of the year, with the upper reaches of McLeod Ganj seeing snowfall. The temperature ranges from 0°C to 7°C.
Things To Do
McLeod Ganj offers a variety of choices for visitors. From adventure sports to meditation classes, they have it all.
Tsug La Khang, the complex where His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides is one of the most popular tourist spots. The complex comprises of Namgyal Monastery, Tibet Museum, the office of the exile government, shrines and statues. Other monasteries close to McLeod Ganj are Drepung and Nechung monasteries. The Bhagsu temple and waterfall is another place to visit. Norbulingka Institute is a fascinating place to visit, both for its architecture and to witness the making of gorgeous handicrafts.
Trekking and Camping:
The slopes of McLeod Ganj and the surrounding hills are one of the best for trekking. The trek through Indrahar Pass and the Triund trek encompass trails that pass through Gaddi Villages, forests, meadows and many more exciting sceneries. The trails are quite long, usually involving camping as well. There are many other trails that take lesser time, like The Kangra valley trail and the Bhagsu trail.
Volunteering and Learning:
McLeod Ganj is one of those places that are back-packer friendly. With a number of NGOs working on a number of issues, you can often find places to volunteer and in return, receive accommodation. There are many yoga and meditation centres as well that you can enrol for. These places also offer food and accommodation.
Immersing in the Local Culture:
One of the best ways to experience a culture is through their unique art forms. Fortunately, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts does just that. Though the performances are rare, it is always fun to participate in one. Tibetan Festivals are often celebrated in the monastery. And attending them can be a fun and enchanting experience.
McLeod Ganj is known for the many fancy cafes and restaurants overlooking the gorgeous landscape. There are cafes at the monasteries serving a variety of food as well. Many restaurants serve local cuisine like momos, thupka, thenthuk (noodles soup), Tigmo (a sort of bread) and of course, the salted Tibetan butter tea - pocha. Besides local cuisine, you can also find restaurants serving Nepali, Bhutanese, Thai, continental, Punjabi and South Indian Food. One thing to remember is that most places will be serving vegetarian food.
Some of the best places to shop in McLeod Ganj are its bustling local markets. There you will find all the souvenirs you were looking for. There are shops with shawls and beautiful embroidery, Tibetan jewellery, shops with Tibetan prayer items, Thangkas, and so on. Some of the main bazaars are Kotwali Bazaar, the Central Square and the market at Jogibara Road. There are gift shops at the monasteries as well, where you can find pretty souvenirs.