Dec 23, 2015

A workation at McLeodganj (Dharamshala)

This post has been pending in my drafts for the past 7 months now. As the year 2015 comes to a close, it's high time I wrap this up and publish it.

Thanks to my ex-employer, my family and I got to visit one of the gorgeous places in India last April. Though I was apprehensive traveling with a 3 year old, my boss was highly encouraging and we decided to take the plunge. It was D's first time traveling in an airplane and also by train. Tickets booked, warm clothing purchased and bags packed. We were so excited and a little anxious about how we will manage. Being a workation, the plan was that I would be working with my team during the working hours (9 to 3) and hubby dear would take care of D during that time. He was fully prepared with her books, puzzles and her favorite DVDs.

The workation part is well-covered here, so I will share about what we did as a family outside the working hours in this beautiful little town near Dharamshala.

Contrary to what we thought, D was at her happiest and well-behaved during the journey. She thoroughly enjoyed her 24 hour long journey - first in cab from our home to airport, then by flight to Delhi, by cab again to Delhi railway station, by overnight train to Pathankot and by a van to McLeodganj. Seriously, we underestimated her and tried to be over-cautious in our earlier short trips but she proved that she is ready for longer trips now :-)

After a late breakfast, we checked into our cozy rooms and slept for a while. In the evening, we took a walk to Dalai Lama temple and were soaking in the sights of snow-clad mountains amidst a cool breeze. This is the first time I actually saw snow and couldn't take my eyes off those pristine mountains.

The next morning, we dressed up early and went for a one-day sight seeing trip in a cab. The driver was very friendly and he covered most of the places in and around Dharamshala - the tea gardens, HPCA cricket stadium (would be an awesome experience to watch a match there!), Norbulingka Institute (the thukpa in the cafe is the best), war memorial, St.Johns church (so beautiful), a couple of monasteries and Dal Lake. The best part was a drive to Naddi village where we trekked for a little bit. The sights of the mountains is just breath-taking. Hopefully, one day I trek to Triund and touch and feel snow :-)

I was working in the morning hours during the work week while hubby and D roamed around McLeodganj, discovering interesting places to eat and telling me stories later in the day. I stumbled upon this cute little cafe "Cafe Illiterati" when I went for lunch with my colleagues. It was exactly "MY" kind of a place, with loads of books stacked up, beautiful view of the mountains and yummy food. During my one week stay in McLeodganj, I had been there 4 times, by myself, with family and with colleagues. It was the most memorable experience when I look back - sipping hot chocolate, reading a book and soaking in the views of majestic mountains. There was a sense of slowness and relaxed times there where you can just sit and be with yourself without any thoughts.

Hubby and I took turns for early morning walks - while he walked to Bhagsunath falls and couldn't stop raving about it, I went for a walk around Dalai Lama temple. It was so peaceful and serene - many monks and elderly praying with their beads, a few of them sitting in benches and meditating, the sunrise brightening up the snow-clad mountains, the cool breeze swaying the flags, the prayer wheels and the lush greenery all around. If you are near McLeodganj, I highly recommend you to go for this morning walk. 

The other memorable experience was a campfire inside a pine forest one late evening. D still remembers it vividly. Playing in the cold flowing river, warming her feet by the fire, listening to music and eating grilled pineapple :-)

On the last day of our trip, we took a long walk around the market area, bought a couple of souvenirs and ate delicious brownies at Woeser Bakery. 

Before we headed back home, we took a short stop-over at Agra to visit TajMahal and Fatehpur Sikhri. It was a complete contrast to our slow, unhurried experience at McLeodganj.

I'm a mountain-girl and have been to many hill stations in the South and a couple of them in North-East. This was my first trip to Northern Himalayas and it was a lovely, humbling experience. Being amidst mountains makes me so happy and cheerful. One day, I hope to be a resident instead of a tourist somewhere up in the hills.

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