This is second post of my series of posts describing my visit to McLeodganj. First part is here.
Coming back to the road, I started walking back towards McLeodganj when I came across a a small trail going upwards which I thought led to another road above. I was right in this assumption, but I wasn’t 100% sure if it led back to the town. Nevertheless, I kept walking. I wasn’t really sure about where to go next. I thought about walking to Dal lake, which didn’t seem too far away according to the map that I was carrying. But I was wary of visiting so many places in one day and getting bored during rest of my stay. A few minutes later I came across a foreign tourist who asked me directions to some place in broken heavily accented English. Then she showed me pictures of the place she wanted to go on her phone. It seemed like Dal lake but I was not 100% sure. So I asked an aged local who was walking by. He was fairly certain that it was Dal lake and told us that it was about 2 km away.
2km didn’t sound that far to me and I asked her if I could tag along with her to which she accepted happily. Turns out that she was a retired dance teacher from Taiwan who had came to Mcleodganj to study Buddhist Lama teachings and to learn yog . She told me that she wanted to go to a yoga teaching center near the lake. She had been there last year, but had forgotten the way. We kept talking as we walked the road. I’ll call her An from now on. Dal lake turned out to be a bit of letdown. Although the surroundings were beautiful, the lake itself was very small and had very little, mostly murky water. The place is famous for it’s 150 or so years old temple. Perhaps the lake looks better during rainy season when it’s filled up. Tibetans have this custom of hanging rows of coloured cloth flags covered with Buddhist teachings in a row. (Right now, I can”t remember what it’s called). I saw one such bunch of flags high up on one of the mountains around the lake and wondered if I could go there. I did stumble across that place later but entirely by accident. But that story is for another day.
I asked some locals about An’s yoga school and was told that there was one in Naddi, which was about a hour’s walk away. As we kept walking towards naddi, weather started changing. While it was sunny and warm till afternoon, grey clouds started to cover the sky along with a cool breeze . Snow covered mountain peaks seemed nearer than ever and were almost completely hidden by dense clouds. An’s yoga school turned out to be a Sahaj Yoga center made popular by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi .
As we entered the premises, everything seemed deserted. I took a peek inside a few doors when I found one Chinese looking woman in a kitchen. Turned out that she was indeed a Chinese and had been practicing yoga for 6 years. An was overjoyed to find someone who spoke her language and the two got busy chatting. I excused myself, went out and started clicking pictures of cloud covered mountain peaks. It was a beautiful sight. After sometime, An came out and asked if I wanted to get some yoga lessons along with her. I was a bit reluctant but joined in due to curiosity. Inside a room made for meditation we were joined by a European lady dressed in traditional Indian salwar-kameez dress who gave us a short introduction. After a few minutes the first Chinese lady entered with another Chinese and they both gave us a crash course on basic Sahaj Yoga techniques, Kundalinis and Energy Chakras etc in English and Chinese.
I couldn’t help but notice the irony of the situation. There I was, an Indian sitting along with a Taiwanese getting Yoga lessons from 2 Chinese in a town for Tibetan refugees. I tried to shake this thought off my head and concentrate on what I was being told, but it wouldn’t go away no matter how hard I tried. After the lessons were over, we were invited to the kitchen where another Chinese lady joined us at the table. Each one of them had been a yoga practitioner for a number of years. During our conversation I came to know that there were a lot of foreigners staying in and around the place. One building nearby was actually an international school for children of expatriates.
Food was simple and very different from what goes for Chinese food elsewhere in India. Watery boiled rice, fried eggs with some salad and sweet soup like dish made of boiled colocasia (kachaloo). Almost no spices and it still tasted good.
By then, it had stopped raining/snowing on the mountain peaks and the clouds had shifted elsewhere. It was sunny where we were but a light shower was in progress the whole time. After some time, me and An took leave of our Chinese hosts and left. It was sunset when we reached back town. I walked An back to her place, 1-2 km away from my hotel. By then it was dark and moon was starting to come up, although it was still hidden behind mountains. There was a shortcut down the mountain, but it was not safe going down that path in dark. Fortunately, a Tibetan man who was just walking in front of us was carrying a torch and offered to guide us down. An was living in a rented house just down the path. After seeing her off, I started walk back to my hotel. By that time, moon was up in the sky and everything looked amazing i it’s light. It was still 2-3 nights short of a full moon but good enough. I tried taking pictures but most came out really bad. On the way, I found one book cafe kind of place. The owner was a foreigner who spoke accented but fluent Hindi. :O
Walking back up the slope was considerably more tiring than going down, but I reached my hotel room after a while. Turned on the TV, watched some movie for some time before sleeping.
Next post will be about Bhagsu and one another place.