17.07.2016 - 21.07.2016
After an awesome week with Naveen & Neera at Darang Tea Estates and a 45min. drive, with many thanks to Naveen for the lift and farewell lunch at the Dhauladar Hotel in Dharamsala.. I've now been in Bhagsunag, about a 30min. walk north of McLoud Ganj now since Sunday..
I had stayed with Bhavinder & family here at Jagatram Niwas Homestay back in March 2011 with SongHi, & absolutely loved the spot.. A semi rural property overlooking the village of Bhagsu with amazing views through the valley to the sprawling city of Dharamsala .... Mainly notable for it's popular temple, the main steep & narrow street through the village is now lined with shops, cafes, homestays & hotels..If you are on the lookout for traditional medicines & Ayurvedic herbs, I'm quite sure you will find what you are looking for here too...
About a 20min. walk out of the village there is even a waterfall, frequented by pilgrims & tourists alike and in the monsoon season, as is now, it's quite a sight..
As expected, there are plenty of walking trails & trekking opportunities to choose from within the area, with the major day one being a steep 3-3.5 hour climb through Rakar village & the surrounding deodar (Himalayan Cedar) forests to the plateau of Triund at 2827m, which provides you with stunning views of the Dhauladar mountains...Not this day though, as they were covered in constant cloud.!!. There's a handful of chai shops at the top to refresh & rehydrate from the climb with even the chance of overnite camping or the luxury of a forest guesthouse should you want to stay a little longer, though probably not a good idea in the monsoons as I found on the way back down..The weather can be quite unpredictable and change almost instantly up here in the rainy season & if it wasn't for a timely stop at a small chai stop & having a small amount of wet weather gear, my time getting back down to Bhagsu would have taken much longer than expected...More keen on protecting the precious camera gear than myself, as you would..!!!..
A half an hour's walk from the homestay in Bhagsu brings you into Mcloud Ganj, home to the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyataso) & the Tibetan Government in exile, following an escape from Chinese occupied Tibet in 1959.. Gangchen Kyishong, his home is located just below the town on Temple Road, and he was relocated here in 1968 from Dharamsala...Not built to the lavish Tibetan style of old, the building is a plain & simple concrete building, with an aim to depict & respect the refugee community's limited means and status..
Adjacent to the complex is the Namgyal Monastery amongst whose monks are some of the Dalai Lama's chosen few personal attendants and there is even an old peoples home nearby for retired members of the Tibetan administration...Having spent a few hours here on two occasions this week I have soaked up the peace & spiritual tranquility of the place ... Also watched an afternoon of a monk's debate, when they debate & seal points and topics for discussion with great enthusiasm & excitement (some it seems do get quite heated) to end with a decisive clap of hands ... Interesting viewing.!!
Lunch at Moon Peak cafe/restaurant is a must for a traditional Himachal thali or my choice,the special of the day, Coriander Chicken & rice, washed down with a mango smoothie..Yum..!!.There are also plenty of traditional tibetan tea shops & restaurants in the village where it's hard to resist the taste of Momos.. A typical tibetan/nepalese steamed bun made with a white flour dough and a choice of fillings plus a side dish of dipping sauces/chutneys or pickles...
I don't think I'd go hungry here in India.!!..A couple of bucks and you get a decent snack with a drink or five dollars and it's a feast to last you almost the day, & the variety of dishes are endless.. A vegetarians paradise..!!..or non vegetarian for that matter.!!..