Monday 8 September 2008

Travelling India: Stage 2: Manali - McLeod Ganj - Dharmshala

As our travels are continuing, we found ourselves deeper in the Himalayas after a 10 hour bus ride through crazy, rough, and beautiful scenery and arrived in Manali. This little mountain station is a popular place for backpackers going further trekking into the Himalayas, but equally attracts Indian honeymooners. To avoid those last group of people we went 2,5 km further up to Old Manali, the backpackers area full of cheap places to stay, bars and restaurants. The first day was more or less spoiled by rain, but the second day in Manali we ventured out and walked several miles through the surrounding hills. Very relaxing, a lot of fresh air and ice cold during the night.

After 2 days Manali, we took an overnight bus to McLeod Ganj, the official place of the Tibetian Governement in exile and the current home of the 14th Dalai Lama. The ride was horrible and after very few moments of sleep we arrived at 4:30am. Of course no guesthouse is open by that time so we found ourselves on the street, roaming around in the middle of the freezing night. Eventually an early autodriver took us somehere to stay, though crappy and distant from the town, we grabbed our chance.

After barely 6 hours sleep we checked out and decided to stay in Dharmshala, the town underneath McLeod Ganj (where the Dalai Lama originally found refuge) and close to the bus station to catch the only bus to Amritsar: public transport bus leaving from Dharmsala tomorrow at 4:30 am, another short night. Anyway, McLeod Ganj is a really nice place and we walked both up and down the 10km from Dharmsala to Mc Leod, enjoying nice views, spotting multitudes of Tibetian monks and stopping here and there for coffee and water along the way.

The 'Free Tibet' atmosphere is omnipresent and apparantly already more than 250,000 Tibetian refugees have found their way to Mc Leod and surroundings, many of them by foot from Tibet itself. Noisy Israeli's and devoted monks go side by side here, but in the end it's a little bit of Tibet in India. Interesting.

Tomorrow we are leaving the high planes and going to Amritsar in the Punjab...nice perspectives again!

See ya!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Man, It would 've been nice if you could've done some of the treks: Like the McLeod Gunj-Bhagsu-Triund or the Manali-Manikaran trek, but nevertheless, given the intense schedule of your travel plans, I think what you are accomplishing is noteworthy!!! Take care and have a memorable and awesome journey. Here's wishing you all the very best...