This is 6th post in this series of posts describing my visit Mcleodganj. Other posts are on this link.
The day begun with An joining me for a breakfast of parantha, omelette and tea in a small eating joint. She wanted to sample only Indian food that day. Parantha was too salty for my taste and tea too sugary for her. Most foreigners don’t like the sweet milky concoction which passes for tea in India. Tibetan tea is mostly a mixture of herbs in boiling water or they drink salty butter tea. Start wasn’t good enough but we had a lot of time to sample food from other places. Our plan for the day was a trek to that waterfall in Dharmkot. It isn’t even mentioned in most tourist guides but whatever I had inferred, it promised to be one of the best places to visit. I had thought about seeing it twice in previous two days but it had proven elusive. I know, elusive isn’t the right word for something stationary, but still…
I was a bit apprehensive at first if An could walk this much. But she proved to be much better than expected. We took the road to Dharmkot and passed through the same dog breeding kennel I had seen the previous day. Two German Shepherds took on the duty of barking vigorously at us. But I was more worried about that Pit Bull pair which was no where to be seen. The place was full of other dogs though.
We reached Gallu Ka Mandir without any further remarkable incident and rested in the guest house I had stopped 2 days back. It was still too early for lunch, so we ordered a meal of rice and daal to be served when we came back. We were told that the walk to waterfall will take 45 minutes only, but as I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I knew it’d take much longer. It actually took nearly 80 minutes. :D
Fortunately, the area is not yet “developed” and the path is unpaved and as natural as a mountain trail can be. The path is flanked by dense trees and shrubs for the most part. Compared to Trund, walking on this path is easier as the altitude doesn’t change much. Small arrows marked the direction to fall, but they were hardly needed as there was no other path on which someone could wander off to. At a point we heard the waterfall but as it turned out, it was quite a bit further than we thought. At that time, I noticed that my arms were a shade of red. Sunburn !
A light drizzle started falling when we were half way there. First instinct was to pick up the speed, but it was not possible to walk any faster without risking a slip and a dangerous fall down the slope of mountain. Luckily, it stopped raining after a while and picked up only when we reached the waterfall. There was a small shop selling tea, snacks etc and some people were huddled there to escape rain.After the rain stopped, I went down to the waterfall for a closer view while An stayed near the shop reading some book.
Quantity and flow of water was much higher compared to Bhagsu. It was more like a stream flowing down a mountain, rather than an actual high waterfall, but I was not complaining. It was beautiful. A large snow deposit covered some area just a few meters higher and water flowed through it, melting it in process. Water itself was fast flowing and very cold. Ice chunks were actually floating in it. I found it difficult to stand in knee deep water both due to fast flow as well as cold. Snow deposit was covered with dried leaves and twigs and as a result, looked dirty brown from a distance as you can see in the picture. It wasn’t hard either and not safe for walking.
A few tourists were standing around, arguing loudly about merits and demerits of crossing the water and exploring the area beyond. I was taking off my shoes and was thinking of a way to cross without getting too wet. Just then two Tibetan guys came and crossed the water by jumping first on a big rock then across. One of them fumbled a little but got away without much damage. I had serious reservations about crossing this way carrying that bulky camera, so I chose to wade across. Leaving my shoes there, I got it into water and used a rock as a support to walk across. Some people who were earlier dithering followed the example a few minutes later. But they didn’t came very far. In the meanwhile, those Tibetans who seemed to be experienced climbers had climbed up to a place between rocks where the water formed a small pool and were swimming in it.
I tried to climb up but without shoes it was difficult. But going back to fetch them didn’t appeal to me much . So I pressed on barefoot till it was possible. Walking on rocks was easy but on ground with shrubs and thorns wasn’t. After a while, I came back and crossed the water to find those two Tibetans clicking pictures. They had climbed to quite some distance and told me that it was worth it. So, I crossed the water again by first throwing my shoes across. Climbing further I found a place where some local operated a shop during summers. There were just remnants of a shack and a few broken benches. Without doubt, it is the least accessible place for a shop that I’ve ever seen.
Passing it, I kept on climbing the mountain and saw some interesting and beautiful sights. There was just a hint of a trail going up and I stopped a little while after it ended. There was no way of going up after that without using hands and perhaps climbing gear.
I came back down after a while to find that An was almost done reading. Waited for her to finish and we started walking back. It started raining again after we had walked for 15 minutes but it didn’t last long. Surprisingly or maybe not so surprisingly. we crossed quite a few people who had left long before us. We reached back to guest house around 5 and sat down on terrace to wait for our food to be served. Apparently we had been gone for longer than expected. Lunch consisted of thick pahadi rice and chane ki daal. It’s typical Dogra food which is served even in feasts, albeit with some more additions like the sweet-sour ambal. I remember attending many such functions when I was a kid and similar food is prepared in my home too. Such food is still served in village feasts but not as much as it was earlier. I had such typical food after a long time and it tasted great. I had been eating only Tibetan food during my stay in Mcleodganj and finding this Dogra food was a pleasant surprise.
The view of mountains and setting sun was almost dream like with red sun, multi-coloured sky and clouds playing around tall mountain peaks. After that view, any sunset that I have seen till now seems pale in comparison. We left for Mcleodganj before it got too dark and stopped once at the shop in Dharmkot. By then it was completely dark and the moon was not visible yet. We had been walking for 25-30 minutes after leaving that shop when I realised that I left An’s bag containing her water bottle and keys back there. Fortunately, a taxi driven by a Nepali came by and we collected her bag with all it’s contents intact. It’d have taken us at least 45-50 minutes to walk up the slope otherwise.
After reaching back to town square we had Indian food which was again horribly prepared. I guess there aren’t many places in Mcleodganj which serve good Indian food. In the meanwhile, I found out that all the bus tickets to Delhi had been sold out and only tickets available were for day after tomorrow. Damn those weekend tourists making life difficult for people like me !! So I had no way of going back to Delhi unless I paid around 6000 for a taxi. So I had to spend one extra day in Mcleodganj and skip office.
Not that I was complaining. :p