Summer of North India are notorious for its blistering heat. And since May was going to end and summer was at its peak now. We decided to take a break from this heat and relax in a cooler place. Himachal was obviously our favourite destination as always.
I planned to go to manali, and tirthan valley. We had 5 days in our pocket to enjoy. I searched everything but one thing which changed our decision. The reason was our little cute 8 month son- Amiraj. It was going to be very hectic for him. So, We changed our destination from manali to Dharamshala. Manali was almost 350 kilometres away from our place.
So we decided to visit our always favourite Mcleodganj. Which was approx. 200 kilometres from our home. The distance cut down to 40% of former. It was less hectic for Amiraj.
A short intro to our destination:
I think everyone knows about Dharamshala and telling details would be repetitive.
So in short, Dharamshala is a very famous hill station of Himachal in the foothills of Dhauladhar range at the altitude in the range 1900 m to 2100 m including the higher spots. Main attraction of this place is tibbetan theme of city because of the monks exalted from Tibbet and settled down in this beautiful town. The Tibetan-in-exile government is headquartered in McLeod Ganj. His holiness Dalai lama also visits and stays here often.
I am going to share my tour along with some insights which I hope will come handy to you.
Let’s start our journey..
Our route was from Jalandhar (Punjab) -> Pathankot (Punjab)->Nurpur(onwards Himachal)->Shahpur->Dharamshala->Mcleodganj-> Bhagsunag.
Sun was showing his power since the morning and we started our journey. It was extremely hot outside. It took us two hours to reach Pathankot and we rested for a while under a dense tree near “Chakki”. Amiraj had some homemade khichadi. We moved further and in next two hours we reached Shahpur (Dharamshala is almost 20 kms from Shahpur) where we had some food and tea. Eating joint was namely “Dana Pani”. Food and tea were good.
After a short break there, we proceeded towards Dharamshala and reached by 4.10 pm. We decided to go to bhagsu and stay there. It took half an hour to reach bhagsunag.
It was little jam at the entrance of bhagsunag and I went to a hotel opposite to my car. It was hotel skylark. It was economic and room was newly renovated, washroom was clean. There was a balcony from where we can see Triund peak.
We were so tired that we decided to relax in the room. Food they served was amazing.
It was a wonderful feeling sitting in the balcony watching sun rising from the other side of the mountain and having hot masala tea. 🙂
We had our breakfast in the room. Our little prince was sleeping and we didn’t want to disturb his sleep. We also wanted him to relax as much as he can so that he could easily acclimate with the height and weather conditions. Later on we got ready to see bhagsu fall (a famous waterfall of that area).
We did lunch at a restaurant near parking but that wasn’t good. I would like to mention here that if you like Chinese, continental or you are a non-vegan then this place is not less than a paradise for you.
We went ahead for waterfall but disappointed as the waterfall has been converted into a small water stream due to summer heat.
We didn’t waste time and went to mcleodganj. Main square of mcleodganj was full of hustle bustle.
We roamed in the market. We had momos there. In this area you’ll get the best momos of the world. We saw a Monestory in the middle of market. It was quite amazing. My wife did some shopping there for family members.
The rest of the day we enjoyed in Mcleodganj. You can try delicious pastries if you are in Mcleodganj. What I missed to enjoy here was Bhagsu cake a famous local desert. It was sold out wherever I tried. You can get it you get some luck. 😉
It was bright morning and we were ready to go to Dharamkot. Dharamkot is a small village 2 kms above bhagsu. It is a very steep and small road. We trekked to Dharamkot but if you think of going by your own vehicle, I would suggest you to go through Mcleodganj. It is quite steep if going through Bhagsu.
It took us almost one hour to reach Dharamkot from Bhagsu. I carried Amiraj in the ‘baby-carrier’ and cool breeze made him sleep during our trek. As soon as we reached dharamkot, I saw ‘Tushita’. Tushita Meditation Centre is a buddhist spiritual Institute that teaches meditation, spiritualism and buddhism. If you, like me, love to meditate and spiritualism is your favourite subject then you must visit this place and join their course that starts from minimum 1-hour guided meditation to multiple weeks spiritulaism courses. I made up my mind to come in near future to go for a spiritual retreat.
Dhamma Shikara, Vipassana meditation centre, is what next to Tushita and it is also for meditation. They teach a special buddhist meditation technique called Vipassana. They are more strict in discipline than Tushita and they only focus one meditation technique and there’s no Buddhist philosophy or teaching.
We went ahead and saw a trek route. I asked local females passing by and they told that road was going up to ‘Galu’ (pronounce it Gallu). Galu is a distant village around One and Half kms above Dharamkot and base of triund trek. There’s a Galu Devi Temple of local goddess from where trek to Triund is started. It is worth visiting and I came to know about a secret waterfall there but couldn’t go beyond dharamkot as I was more concerned about Amiraj.
One more thing to mention here, It is an unmetalled road to Galu. So either prefer to trek or go by bike. One more thing you can do is hire a cab to reach galu.
We couldn’t go to galu but we explored Dharamkot and it was worth staying there too. I have read about a cafe namely, Trek & Dine, and asked a monk about it. He guided us the way to the cafe. It was a great experience. We enjoyed delicious pasta with espresso coffee there. It was amazing. Quality of food was outstanding. Amiraj enjoyed fresh carrot juice which was made of organic carrots.
It was evening now. We preferred a different route to reach bhagsu. It was little long but we had got to spend more time to enjoy this beautiful village.
We went through small streets, step fields, and views were amazing. We met villagers, foreigners and kids playing cricket there. In 40 minutes we reached bhagsu. We spent some time in the market and returned to the hotel.
It was day 4. We all set to leave Bhagsu and went for Naddi. There was jam all over. First we got jam near Mcleodganj main square. after passing it, we got jam at the start of the road to Naddi. Then again we got traffic hold up in the market near naddi. Finally we reached naddi in more than half an hour. It is 6 kilometers from bhagsunag but due to frequent congestions it took us more than half an hour.
I was told by some of my knowns that going to naddi is worthless. But I differ them as you must go there. Try to go in the evening and see the views of hills and make use of golden hour in taking photographs. We reached there in the late morning when it was about to noon but I can show you the beauty of scenery there.
When we reached naddi. I parked my car and strong wind welcomed me. It was like a windstorm. Sky was going to overcast. Weather was amazing. I personally wanted to stay there but decided to spend sometime and go down to Sidhpur. As it was our last day of vacation I wanted to see Norbulingka Institute (An Institute of Tibetan arts and Culture) before going back home.
Our plan was to stay one night in Sidhpur near Norbulingka Institute and go to Norbulingka next morning before leaving for home. We stayed in Green Woods by OYO at Stone throw distance from Norbulingka Institute. A walk after dinner in the streets of Sidhpur was relaxing.
Finally, it was last day in Himachal and Dharamshala, so we got up little early and did packing and checked nothing should have been left. Amiraj was sleeping as usual. We ordered breakfast and he got up when we were having our meal (it is also a routine process 😛 ). Anyways, we checked out and walked towards norbulingka. Entrance of this Institute attracts you to go inside. There is an entry fee of Rs. 40/- per person.
You must go there if planning to visit Dharamshala. It is a must watch. You will forget the time there. It is so beautiful and serene. There’s a temple, workshops where artisans do work in tibetan crafts. There’s also a doll museum. If you get little tired in exploring the place then you can have some delicious food and shakes in the Hummingbird cafe inside the Institute. (You can go for a virtual tour here-https://www.norbulingka.org/temple-tour.html but I would request you to explore it in real 😃 )
We had already done breakfast but couldn’t resist having fresh apple juice there. Amiraj also enjoyed the same.
Now we were ready to return to home. It was a wonderful tour of Dharamshala. We missed some spots that I am going to mention further. But we enjoyed alot. It was the first tour of Amiraj and we were happy that he didn’t fall ill. I would also share some does and don’ts if going with small kids. Hope that would come handy to you.
One more thing to share, as we left for Pathankot, sky overcasted with dark clouds. Windstorm was there and soon it started raining and it rained throughout our travel. It made our tour more memorable.
This is the time to end the story here and share what I have learned and what you should do if going to Dharamshala.
1. If you are going with kids, try to keep an extra day so that it shouldn’t be going to hectic for them.
2. If your toddler is pretty small and is dependent on breastfeed, try to breastfeed maximum. It will keep your angel hydrated.
3. Try to give your baby fresh juices but from reputed place or ask them to make that in front of you.
4. Going with baby, try for a homestay that includes kitchen. It will be handy when your baby needs something urgently, you can cook it for her. Try to stay at one place throughout your stay and try to commute from your stay.
Home stay will not only be economical, also give you a mental peace of not packing or unpacking your luggage every other day.
5. Try to visit lesser known places that will ultimately be lesser crowded and more enjoyable.
6. Do visit to your pediatrician before leaving for vacation.
7. If you like me who love to drive yourself, do go for a service before going to hills and must must must check the working of hand brake and get it repaired if any malfunction. It plays a very crucial role in hills. At one place where we stopped for lunch, I parked the car and used hand brake. As soon as I got out of car, it started moving down. I immediately opened the door and applied brake somehow. It was very scary. So it is a request to give it a double check.
8. Do proper research before going, for that i feel “devil on wheels” is a complete place. You won’t need to visit any other forum or community. Thanks to Dheeraj and other devils who always ready to help you out with their knowledge and experience.
1. Don’t add too much places to visit if you have less days. I used to do it earlier. Nothing great in spending maximum time in travel to visit all the places and you also get less time to explore each place.
2. Don’t try to find a hotel or stay in the middle of city. It not only will burn hole in your pocket, may also keep you busy in jam and crowd. Try to find it little away from the main city.
3. Don’t push your vehicle everywhere, go for public transportation or hire a cab. It will not only protect your vehicle from unnecessary damage in hills, also local drivers know shortcuts and many unexplored areas also.
4. Don’t go to such places like Dharamshala, shimla, manali etc. in summer vacation. It is packed to capacity. Well, I know our kids have vacation in may-june every year and this is the time to visit some tourist places. But I would suggest you to try to go in september or october, you would remember me for this advice.
Thank you for sparing time to read this post. Please share your experiences, views, suggestions. 🙂
P.S. I will add some more photographs as soon as I get some spare time.