Dharamsala/McCleod Ganj

As we drove up through the mountains to Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj, we noticed a freshness and crisp feeling in the air that we had not experienced since Kerala. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the view of the mountains was beautiful. We were very glad to be in a car, as the roads were very twisty-turny! Not an ideal situation for a bus ride.

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That afternoon we visited the Norbulingka Institute, noted as one of the region’s best attractions on Trip Advisor. The grounds of the Institute are beautiful, designed by a Japanese Architect. The stone pathways and buildings are nicely nestled into the landscape, and the many streams of gently running water create a peaceful atmosphere.

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The Institute consists of many workshops where Tibetan artisans are able to preserve the traditional processes of painting, stitching, and metalwork. We were shown around by a lovely Tibetan woman. After finding out we were from Canada, she was eager to talk to us about Justin Bieber (she really likes his songs!)

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Since we were enjoying the atmosphere so much we decided to stick around for a late lunch. Foolishly, we ordered “Tibetan Butter Tea”, assuming it was the thing to order at the Tibetan Institute. While I’m sure it is a great drink to have in the cold mountains, we were pretty shocked to find out it was essentially a drink of melted butter, hot water, and salt. Not our favourite! We sheepishly asked for cappuccinos instead, but really enjoyed the mothuk soup, which consisted of dumplings and veggies in a tasty broth.

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We wandered the town a bit after that, and really exercised our legs on the many steps and steep streets. After settling in to our guesthouse, the Pink House, we sipped a beer and munched on chips as we watched the moon rise over the mountains.

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The next morning we awoke to pounding rain, the first bad weather we had encountered on the trip. Unfortunately there isn’t much to do in McLeod Ganj or Dharamsala on a rainy, foggy day, so we ate way too much breakfast at Jimmy’s, and retired to our hotel room in favour of having blankets and a heater. It was really freezing up in the mountains, and the pounding rain didn’t help. We did venture out again that evening to attend Lhamo’s cooking class, and had a great time learning how to make a simple soup with dumplings!

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It was after the cooking class that things took a turn for the worse… I was violently ill for about 5 hours, a sickness that manifested itself differently in Beth as she was mildly ill for several days.

The next morning, cold and exhausted, we started the long journey from Dharamsala to Delhi.

Despite the bad weather and unfortunate illness, McLeod Ganj was a really nice place to visit, as I loved being up in the fresh mountain air. If i ever return to India, this will definitely be a stop on my journey (but perhaps a little closer to the summer months!)

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