Photos and tips by guest author Stefan K
After arriving in Dharamsala (actually McLeodganj which I refer to as Dharamsala) we walked up a small hill to drop my bags at my Grandfathers. I haven't seen him since I was 6 so we had some catching up to do. Unfortunately he doesn't speak English and I don't speak Tibetan so we communicated by learning each others' languages and the use of a translator from time to time.
Dharamsala itself is not much of a city. While the Dalai Lama's temple palace along with the temple in the “little
The highlight of Dharamsala is the mountainous terrain. With my uncle, I went on a 3-day journey to nearby Triund. This is a hike that can be done by anyone in decent physical condition. It is recommended to bring normal camping supplies, however the journey can be done without, as long as you bring a little bit of money. Along the hike up, there are many cafes and at the summit you can buy food along with lending out a sleeping bag. There is also a fresh mountain stream where you can fill up on water. Luckily we managed to get a prime piece of real estate. We found a cave big enough for 5 people and which overlooked the summit and the surrounding area. On day 2, I decided to wander further up the mountain to the snow line. At this point you are around 3,200m (2 miles) altitude, so even though the path is simple to navigate, you will tire out easily. From the snowline (which also has a cafe) you can wander further up to where snow lays year round. I didn't go too far up because I didn't bring my supplies with me and was hiking alone. On the third night, my uncle and I, along with an Israeli and Swiss guy I met, decided to go back down into town. The path to and from the summit is very easy to navigate with a full moon.
My hike to Triund ended up being one of my favorite trips in
Other things to do in Dharamsala include visiting the Shiva Cafe. The Cafe is located in Bhagsu and sits right next to a beautiful waterfall. This is a popular tourist point and you can kill a few hours just walking around and relaxing next to the waterfall. You can also visit the Karmapa's palace in lower Dharamsala. Karmapa will likely be the face of Tibetan Buddhism once the Dalai Lama passes away. It is possible to request an audience, and befriending a lama drastically increases your chances of being able to meet the Karmapa or the Dalai Lama.
After about a week and a half, Dharamsala felt a little too small for a city boy like me. I met many tourists who have stayed several weeks in the town to either relax/unwind or do some volunteer work. If you are planning on doing volunteer work, it is recommended that you look well in advance. I would like to say thank you to Psomola for cooking, cleaning, and caring for me, my Popola for everything he did, Pala for showing me around, KP for taking me in, the 2 tourists I stayed in the cave with for being cool people, Norbu for coordinating everything, and all the local Tibetans who fed me, played basketball, hung out during the night, translated, and more.
This special two part series on India is written and submitted by guest author Stefan K. See more of his photos from India.
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