Things to do in McLeodGanj: McLeod Ganj is one of the most beautiful hill stations that this land of India has. It is a suburb of Dharamshala and lies in the district Kangra of Himachal Pradesh.
Being not a very common tourist destination, it is quiet, serene and has rich Tibetan culture as Dharamshala its nearest neighbor is home to The Holiness Dalai Lama.
Here you can immerse in the beauty of nature and wonder about the beauty of God`s creations, while also visiting its numerous monasteries in McLeodGanj. The city is also known as ‘Little Lhasa’ or ‘The Land Of Lamas’. This place is a great getaway for relaxation and recreation alike.
The Best Time to Visit McLeod Ganj?
There are three seasons worth visiting the place. But we suggest Summer and Winter’s season are the best. Have a look at McLeodganj Weather.
1. Summer season:
The summer period in the town is between March to June and the temperature is between 22 to 38 degrees Celsius. This time is great for sightseeing and also for getting engaged in adventurous activities like Trekking in the Triund Trek and Paragliding, etc.
2. Monsoon Season:
Monsoon season in the town receives heavy rainfall. Though the place becomes lush at this time, landslides make the place a bit dangerous.
3. Winter Season:
Cold seasons are considered a good season to visit cold places by many. If you are one of them, then go get trunks packed as this is also a great time to visit the place as temperatures are near freezing point and mountains are covered with heavy snow.
How To Reach McLeod Ganj?
The connectivity through road is by far the best, but we have an airport not far from the place. Although, the frequency of flights is not good.
1. Connectivity by Air:
Gaggal airport is the nearest airport to the town. But only selected flights of selected companies fly on this route. So, another way of reaching here can be flying till Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi and then hiring a cab or taking a bus from there.
2. Connectivity by Road:
A number of bus and cab services are operating that leave you at McLeod Ganj Bus Stop. From here you can either take a taxi or walk to your destination.
3. Connectivity by Rail:
The nearest railway station is at Pathankot which is 90km away. From Pathankot Railway Station you can hire a cab or take a bus. There are a number of trains that run through this route, so you can choose according to your convenience.
What are Things to do in McLeodGanj?
1. Trekking the Triund Trek
2. Boat ride in Dal Lake
3. Shop at Local Markets
4. Take cooking lessons on Authentic Tibetan cuisines
5. Cultural shows at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts
6. Indulge in good food at various cafes.
What are the top places to visit in McLeodGanj?
1. Tsuglagkhang Complex and Namgyal Monastery
2. Bhagsu Temple and Falls
3. Church of St. John in the wilderness
4. Kareri Lake, Kangra
5. Masroor Temple
6. Tibetan Museum
In addition to various tourist destinations that you can visit, here are some things you can do to engage yourself in the Tibetan Style and absorb their culture in a better and interesting manner. Here are a few interesting things you can experiment with:
1. Trekking the Triund Trek:
It is a 9km easy difficulty level trek from McLeod Ganj to the beautiful Triund. Triund is a peak in Dhauladhar Range. It goes through the Indera Pass also called the Moon Peak. The area has an unpolluted atmosphere which gives it one of the best nighttime views also, but camping at night in Triund has been stopped, in effect from 30th June 2019.
Anyways the scenic beauty is worth every effort as the trek is covered with Rhododendron and Oak Forests. All in all, it is a memorable journey from McLeod Ganj to Triund via Dharmkot. The initial half is a gradual incline but the last 2km do form a critical part with vertical climb until Triund.
2. Boat Ride in Dal Lake:
This picturesque lake has been named after the very famous Dal Lake of Kashmir. Situated at an altitude of 1775m above sea level, it is set between the Deodar Forests that give it an iconic view. To make the surroundings more ethereal, there is a temple dedicated to Rishi Durvasa and Lord Shiva, adjoining the lake.
The lake has greenish water and is home to a large variety of fishes. Boating in this lake is an unreal experience, especially for kids. The timings for boating is between 7 am in the morning and 8 pm in the evening.
Another major event related to this lake is the annual fair that is observed in the month of September. This fair is associated with Lord Shiva and a large number of devotees from the Gaddi Tribe visit this fair and temple. Also, you can stop by this place if you are trekking to Naddi, Sunset Point.
3. Shop at Local Markets:
Any trip is not complete without exploring the local markets. These local markets are the true picture of the culture and folk art of the place. Also, a trip without souvenir shopping is not really complete. Thrift shopping in these flea markets has its own fun and is thrilling to some extent. But a pro tip is to always bargain to a large extent and keep an eye on your belongings
It is most famous for Tibetan Rugs, exotic sculptures, and rugs.
If you are out there for collecting souvenirs, then this is the place to be.
McLeodganj Central Square:
It is more famous for old shops that have been continuing the legacy for some centuries. For example, Nowrojee and son that is here since 1860. The market houses the best of Thangka Tapestry Paintings, wooden carvings, and other handicrafts.
4. Take cooking lessons on Authentic Tibetan cuisines:
For those who visit a place to have a taste of the culture of the place, this is the place to be in. It is one of the newest ideas and really fun too. So, there are two kitchens, Lhamo`s kitchen, and Sangey’s kitchen. Both of these kitchens teach you various items of Tibetan food in the most authentic style. Both of these teach various momos, soups, noodles, and bread.
For Lhamo’s kitchen, the timings are 10 am in the morning to noon and second class goes from 4 pm to 6 pm in the evening. Last year, three of the BackStreet Boys Band members attended the class. The cost is just 300 rupees per person.
5. Cultural shows at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts:
Another way to immerse in the Tibetan culture is to go and watch the cultural stage shows at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. This cultural center showcases various traditional Tibetan culture performances and sometimes they also perform Lhamo– the local folk opera. One of their performance goes on for 6 hours!
The most popular event of this institute is the 9 days long Shoton Opera Festival. It is 9 days given to culture and celebration. The entry fee for the regular shows is very meager. It is just 50 Rupees.
6. Indulge in good food at various cafes:
Food is an integral part of having fun and on a trip, food outlets play an important role as they form a major part of your travel experience. Although nowadays every type of food is available everywhere, to be able to eat authentic local food is a treat like no other. So, here are some cafes that serve you hot coffee, fresh steaming momos of a thousand varieties and the traditional Thukpa. Relax here and get ready for the next part of your journey.
- Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen
- Shiva Café
- Peace Café
- Lung Ta
- Common Ground Café
- Café Budan
- Hummingbird Café
- Seed Café
- Namgyal Café
- Tibet Quality Bakery
- Lobsang Four Season Café
What are the Top Places to visit in McLeodGanj?
The town is an ethereal place to be in for a vacation. It is home to The Holiness Dalai Lama. Thus, the town has a rich culture and there are many monuments showcasing it. Other than that God has bestowed some very picturesque nature spots that one must visit on his tour to McLeod Ganj.
1. Tsuglagkhang Complex and Namgyal Monastery:
Tsuglagkhang complex McLeodGanj consists of four parts- The residence of Dalai Lama, Tsuglagkhang Temple, Namgyal Monastery and Tibet Museum. Except for the residence of Dalai Lama, all else is open to tourists. The complex houses a statue of Buddha, as well as statues of Chenrezig and Guru Rinpoche. The serenity and calming vibes of the place lure even those who are not much inclined to this religion.
The Namgyal Monastery McLeodGanj is also called Dalai Lama`s Temple, as it’s the 14th Dalai Lama`s own monastery. The foundation of this monastery was laid down in the 16th century by the second Dalai Lama. It is now the biggest Tibetan temple outside Tibet. It is also known as Namgyal Tantric College and around 200 monks here work for protecting the skills, practices, and traditions of the monastery.
2. Bhagsunag Falls and Bhagsunath Temple:
Bhagsunag Falls McLeodGanj is the most popular tourist destination in Dharamshala. It is a must-visit place. The serenity and beauty of the place will leave you mesmerized and you will always remember it. The waterfall begins its journey at the base of the Dhauladhar valley and before falling down, it also passes through Bhagsunath Temple.
It falls from a tremendous height of 30 meters and cascades down beautifully. It reaches its full glory in the monsoon season. But, the simple pleasure of sipping coffee at the nearby café and watching it fall is immeasurable.
Bathing in the waterfall is also possible, but usually, the temperature of the water is too low for it to be practical. Bhagsunath Temple McLeodGanj is also known as Bhagsunag Temple. It is highly regarded by the Hindu and Gorkha communities of the town. It has two pools around the temple.
These are considered sacred and have healing powers in them. Also, Dal Lake and Kotwali Bazaar are near it. Bhagsunath temple is en route to Bahgsunag falls too.
3. Church of St. John in the wilderness:
The church was built in 1852. This church is dedicated to John The Baptist. The church is built amidst dense Deodar tree forests. Thus it got its name Church of St. John in the wilderness. It also has beautiful Belgian Stained glass windows.
4. Kareri Lake, Kangra:
It is also known as Kumarwah Lake. It is fed by the melting snow from the Dhauladhar ranges. It is a shallow, freshwater lake. Also, It lies 9km northwest to Dharamshala. The water is so clear that most of the places the Lakebed is visible. The lake is beautiful with dense conifers and colorful flowers blooming all year long.
5. Masroor Temple:
Masroor Temple is a monolithic stone cut temple. It is a bit secluded and away from the most crowded tourist destinations of the city. It is said that it was made by Pandavas from Mahabharat in a single night when they were in Agyaatvaas. It is carved out of a single stone. It will be great if you are looking for some quiet.
6. Tibetan Museum:
The Tibetan museum McLeodGanj is set in the Tsuglagkhang complex. It is regarded as the Official Museum of the Central Tibetan Administration Department of Information and International Relations. It is an exhibition of Tibetan workmanship which includes earthenware, history reports, canvases, handicrafts, etc.
All in all, McLeod Ganj is a travelers paradise. It offers natural beauty, rich culture and peace, and serenity to anyone who steps here. It is the abode to and is blessed by the presence of The Holiness Dalai Lama. The aura of this place assures that your trip here will be wholesome and rememberable. You will never forget your moments spent in the monasteries and falls.
For more information visit the official site of Himachal Pradesh. You can also book Himachal Tourism buses from here. From personal experience, I can say they are best in class.