McLeodganj: Getting lost isn’t always what it seems

This is my 4th post in the series of posts describing my visit to McLeodganj. First 3 parts are in this link.

Way to Dharmkot

Way to Dharmkot

After lunch of momos, I took the road to Dharmkot. It’s a steep climb for quite a distance as you may observe in the picture. After walking for a while, I  left the road and took a less traveled trail which passed through heavily wooded area.   Massive Deodar trees formed such a dense canopy that no sunlight reached the ground below. The place not only looked good but smelled great too. Fresh fragrant air :)

After some time I met a Tibetan man walking and asked him for directions. He guided me to point where trail ended on a bend on main road to Dharmkot. He owned a small shop there. Walking on main road was not as serene but at least it had some great views. After walking for more than 90 minutes, I reached a point, where 3 paths diverged.

A little birdie

A little birdie

I stopped to rest in a shop  and asked if it was possible to reach the waterfall. Shopkeeper advised against it as evening was drawing close. A bit disappointed, I proceeded onwards anyway and took a path going down the mountain in to a small picturesque village below. Foreign tourists were present here too, living in  houses of villagers which also doubled up as guest houses, lodges etc.

Nothing to see here

After walking through the village for a while, I asked one local for directions. I actually had very little idea about where I was going . He pointed me to mountain top where two cars and a house were visible and told me that that’s the way to waterfall as well as Triund. That area is called Gallu Ka Mandir. As you can see from the picture below, getting there wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. After a while, the path was just a steep climb littered with broken slate stones.

Yes, walking up that small hill takes only 40-45 minutes

Yes, walking up that small hill takes only 40-45 minutes

I had no plans of visiting Triund that day, but still wanted to check that waterfall which I heard was bigger and more beautiful than the one at Bhagsu. I thanked the old man and started  climbing the mountainous path to Gallu Ka Mandir. Although it was  getting cloudy again and temperature wasn’t that high, I was sweating heavily. I reached the top covered in sweat and completely out of breath. But as soon as I reached up, clouds got darker and a cool wind started to blow. It was snowing/raining in higher mountains again. A light drizzle started there too and I stopped at  a shop to buy something to drink. It was a point where the road from Mcleodganj ended in to two trails. One lead towards Triund and the second towards that waterfall. There are a couple of guesthouses nearby which were already fully occupied.

Rain, hail, sleet..whatever you call it

According to shopkeeper, the waterfall was a 45 minutes walk away and I could reach there if I walked fast. Encouraged, took the path to waterfall. Fortunately, it showed no sign of so called “development” and the the surroundings retained their original ruggedness and splendour. I had walked for less than 10 minutes when even more clouds arrived and started dropping hail. I don’t know what’s this phenomena called when it rains  soft hailstones and water. I hastily put my camera in to the bag and  walked back to one of the guest houses   I had passed in the way. As soon as I started walking back, clouds got even more generous with dispensing of their load. Temperature must have dropped by quite a few degrees in a matter of minutes.

View of mountains as it rained

View of mountains as it rained

Reaching the guesthouse, I asked for a hot cup of tea. The owner of gusthouse had some free time and he came over to chat for a while. Turned out, he had left a cushy job in a MNC in Delhi nearly 15 years back to start this business. My hero !  Only other staff was his wife.  The place had amazing view of the mountains all around.  During winters the whole area is covered with snow and it’s a lean season for tourism as the road is covered with 2-3 feet of snow.  Naddi lay straight ahead, but I realised it much later. I had the opportunity to watch the amazing sight of rains in mountains, where it’s raining on one mountain, while it’s clear and sunny  on the next. After the rain, hail stopped and clouds cleared.  I could see fresh snow on mountain peaks glistening in patchy sunlight. It was a sight to remember. It was almost 5:30pm by then and visiting waterfall was completely out of question. I started back towards Mcleodganj, planning to resume my journey next day.

Road from Dharmkot to Mcleodganj

Road from Dharmkot to Mcleodganj

I took the other path, the motorable road coming from Dharmkot to go back. From there, Mcleodganj was visible and identifiable due to enormous white shelter in Namgyal monastery. After walking for almost half an hour, I came across another trail that went in exactly opposite direction of the road.  Without weighing pros and cons for long, I took the trail. First, it led to a place full of sacred prayer flags that  Buddhist hang up in a row and stacks of stones . It was almost like a grove and very beautiful. A small stone house was visible at some distance, but I didn’t check it out.  After that, a narrow trail went forward and I kept walking. Once again, I had no idea where I was going. Tree cover was really dense, it had rained just an hour bfore and everything looked and smelled amazing. I didn’t came across even one person and it was very quiet and peaceful.

Another small temple on the way

Another small temple on the way

Slowly the trail started to go down the mountain and I noticed on radio tower that I had seen the previous day on my way to Naddi. After a walk of nearly one  hour, the trail led me back to a small village near Dal lake. The sacred flags that I came across were the same that I had noticed from Dal lake the previous day. Nice.

It was almost sunset by then, but I was not a complete stranger to area. By the time I reached St John’s Church, moon was up in the sky and I stopped to take some pictures in the graveyard. Some stray dogs at some distance seemed to be offended by this. Reached back to town well past eight and entered a small Tibetan restaurant run by a family. Had a big bow of Thupka noodles. At first I thought I could finish the bowl, but surprisingly  I managed. Walked back to my hotel from there feeling extremely tired but happy and content.

Next part will be about the trek to Triund.

Mcleodganj_Moonrise in the graveyard

Mcleodganj Moonrise in the graveyard

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