What looks like a standard post under “Travel” section of Allzhere, is actually a “Guest” post by “Prachi Bhardwaj” who took it all by herself in what is described as “The One At Mcleodganj”. Here you go …
It was a long weekend and I didn’t want to waste it. I wanted to escape the deadly summers which had just kissed Delhi, wanted to do something adventurous and something that I had never done before. Serious and concentrated thinking fetched me none untill the idea of a “Solo Trip” struck me. That’s it, simply put , “I wanted to get a taste of Solo travel and Mcleodganj looked like a perfect destination.”
Next day in office when I told my office colleague that I am going to Mcleodganj by myself….. Her jaw dropped…Her face fell…TV soap series echo “What !!! What !!! What !!!!” in the office bay area…It was obvious, Solo travel for Women in our country is not considered safe and this itself was enough to ring all those internal alarm bells and parental concerns. But it was too late. The adrenaline was pumped too far. I promised her that I will take care of my safety and will be back in one piece. 🙂 This was something i was hoping as well. 🙂
Next, I called up my mom and told her that I am going to Mcleodganj and to my surprise she said OK and hung up the phone. I couldn’t believe that my mom didn’t create any hue and cry over my solo travel until I posted on facebook “My first solo trip to Mcleodganj- Superexcited!!”” She was assuming that I was travelling with my other colleagues and had no clue that I could go all alone to a place which is entirely new to me and by the time she realized, it was too late…I was already in the bus 🙂 . Well played.
I reached Kashmiri Gate interstate bus terminal in Delhi on Sunday evening and when I boarded the bus for Dharamshala, it dawned upon me that I was really doing it. It began well. I was seated next to a lady whose hometown was Dharmashala. Although she was shocked to know about my solo trip but soon she realized that I am not going to listen to her so she gave me tips on how to travel and what to see. She even shared her cell no with me just in case if I need it in emergency. She was a very compassionate lady.
After an overnight journey I reached Dharamshala at 6:30 am. I took a taxi to Dharamkot to book a hotel room which was recommended by trip advisor only to find out that it was too expensive and the rooms were stinking like anything. I asked the taxi driver if he could help with some nice hotels and he took me to Jogiwara – a place full of guesthouses and hotels. I easily figured out a nice hotel called Holiday Hill (not to confuse it with Holiday Inn 😛 ) which had free wifi for Rs.1000/-. I will sum up the adventure part of above paragraph i.e. Solo Tip –> Female –> Mcleodganj –> No Prior Hotel Booking –> Crazy.
McLeodganj is a really small town. Everything is within 1-2 km, which tempts you to walk and not spend money on taxis and autos. By the end of the day you have aching legs, especially if you’re not used to long walks. I wandered the streets and within 15 minutes I was in conversation with people from all over the world, speaking to them like I had known them for years 😉 On the first day, I visited the monastery of the Dalai Lama and the Tibet museum on temple road. The monastery was spacious. I was lucky to reach there at the time when they were performing their religious rituals. Monks of both genders were praying there. I, too, sat for half an hour amongst them. It was a lovely, serene experience!
The market had shops and stalls full of clothes, accessories, Buddhist artifacts and ‘Free Tibet’ souvenirs. Although I liked the stuff but it was overrated. There were some nice cafes too. I had lunch in one of those cafes on temple road. It was 4 pm, I still had time so I walked all the way to Dal Lake and Naddi, which is known for its sunset point.
It’s impossible to put into words the overwhelming feeling of liberation and excitement I felt during that long walk to Naddi. The thought that I was alone in a different city with complete strangers who I seemed to bond with instantly; it felt unreal. Listening to my favorite music and clicking `selfies` added to the experience. Few clicks during the walk :
Naddi was beautiful. I was awestruck by seeing the beautiful dauladhar range. I rested at one of the tea stalls, I fell in love with. Had Maggie and chai (tea) while enjoying the sunset and beautiful view of the valley. For anyone who has been to hills, will understand the awesomeness of “chai & maggie”. Dal lake is on the way to Naddi, it looked more like a pond than a lake though I admired a couple in his mid-forties sitting next to it listening to my all time favourite song “Pukarata Chala hoon Main” sung by Mohd Rafi. I sat with them to enjoy the song and then left immediately to enjoy the sunset at Naddi.
Since it was seven in the evening and was beginning to get dark , I hired a taxi back to the temple road and chose to have an early dinner. I went on to taste some nice Himalayan cuisine at Four Seasons Cafe. I was back to hotel at 8 pm. My next day plan was pretty clear, trek to Bhagsu falls and leave in the evening at 7 pm back to Delhi.
I am not a morning person so I started pretty late around 10:30 am and checked out from the hotel.
The trek to Bhagsu fed the adventurous part of my spirit. It is scenic and challenging if you take the longer route. It took almost 4 hours to reach Bhagsu and on my way found my first Japanese friend called Takayaki Sato. He was a Yoga Teacher and a chef. Since we were on similar paths we had a nice deep conversation. I returned to Mcleodganj at 5:30 and still had ninety minutes so I decided to go to Tibetan Massage center for foot massage to take care of my sore feet after a long day of unaccustomed trek and this marked the end of my first solo trip.
I think it’s hugely important to be totally content in your own company. I felt free, refreshed, uplifted. And most importantly, I realized that I could travel on my own. There’s something about making friends and connecting with strangers that is so exhilarating!
I had time of my life !!