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Things To Do In Mcleod Ganj
McLeod Ganj is a small suburb in the district of Kangra. It is most popularly known for being the residing place of His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself. This, along with its serene greenery, wild pine forests, its picturesque backdrop of mount Dhauladhar standing tall, all make excellent reasons to visit the quaint city of McLeod Ganj. Pilgrimage is one of the most common reasons to be here, but beside that there are a number of things you can do in McLeod Ganj.
One reason to be here is to enjoy the enchanting landscape and to experience the culture of the place. As for adventure seekers, the mountainside of McLeod Ganj offers many trek-able and ride-able paths.
McLeod Ganj’s Tsug La Khang is a large complex, the largest outside of Tibet, comprising of the famous Namgyal Monastery that is known for being the residence of the Dalai Lama. The complex also has three statues and many beautiful shrines. Within the monastery, large murals and paintings adorn the walls, reciting their stories in colourful ways. The walk to the monastery and through the meditation trail can be a deeply spiritual exercise.
For people living a busy life, the calmness of McLeod Ganj can be a quick cure. Even mundane activities like taking a stroll can turn into quite an enchanting experience. There are lots of eateries where you can partake in some exotic cuisine and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Among outdoor activities, the most popular one is boating at Dal Lake. Drifting in the soothing waters of the lake surrounded by the breath-taking scenery is something worth having in your to-do list.
There is no better way to experience McLeod Ganj than trekking. Being a small town, amateur trekkers will be delighted to find veiled forest paths leading up to favourite tourist spots or even spectacular view points. But, of course, McLeod Ganj is also a favourite among pros. The infamous Triund and Indrahar Pass trek are among the most coveted treks in the state. There are many groups arranging treks of varying prices and duration, some even camping for a night or two.
Visit Places of Cultural Importance
McLeod Ganj has had a rather short but eventful history and this can be seen in the monuments left behind. Among the most popular is The Bhagsu Shiv Temple. It was a principal place of worship for the Ghurkhas. Another highlight of Bhagsu is its beloved waterfalls. The Tibet Museum is an important stop to make if you are interested in the Tibetan cause. The many murals and artefacts will take you back in time.
The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts is the place to be in if you want to catch some traditional art forms at play. Set up to preserve traditional art forms of music, dance and theatre, the institute is open to visitors for a small fee. The folk opera Lhamo is one of the best attractions here, where stories are told with colourful costumes, and the music accompanied by local percussions is simply out of this world. The performances are not regular, so make sure you check if something is going on when you are there.
Volunteering and Learning
For people who are hoping to join a meditation or yoga program, there couldn’t be a better place. There are quite a few centres that have courses that may last from 5 to 10 days to much longer periods. Most places offer lodging and meals along with lessons. A lot of people also journey here to learn the intricate art of thanka painting and also cooking Tibetan cuisine. For backpackers, a viable option is volunteering at organizations, a couple of which provide accommodation in return. Volunteering work usually involves helping NGOs with education, cleaning the mountainside, etc.
Handicrafts in the Making
The Norbulingka Institute is dedicated to teaching Tibetan handicrafts including painting murals, wood craving, etc to local Tibetan residents. The institute in itself is a delight to see, with scenic Japanese-inspired water garden, beautiful architecture and its tranquil atmosphere. The institute is about a half an hour's journey from McLeod Ganj, but it is a trip worth making.