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McLeodganj is the quiet suburb of Dharamshala and an old colonial town. It is also called the Little Lhasa owing to its oldest and a huge Tibetan community settled here. The town serves as a base for trekkers who explore the mountains further up north. The old-world charm, surrounded by stunning views of the Himalayas and the vibrant local community, is what McLeodganj is famous for.
Mcleodganj hill station sits on the Dhauladhar Range on the Upper Himalayas. The town has an elevation of 6831 feet with the highest peak at Hanuman Ka Tibba at 18,500 feet. It houses various cultural communities like Tibetan, Nepalese, and Himachali, and others who make for a population of 11,000.
Here’s a little trivia about Mcleodganj. The town was named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab; the suffix ganj is a common Persian word used for “neighborhood”. Mcleodganj history dates back to the 1800s, when the area (including Dharamshala) was annexed by the British as an army cantonment after the Second Anglo-Sikh War. The name Dharamshala came from the first resthouse or a “dharamshala” that was built here on an empty land. Later, the district became the administrative capital of Kangra district. In 1862, Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India made this the summer capital of India for its pleasant weather and lush surroundings.
Best Time to Visit Mcleodganj
McLeodganj sits in the northern part of Himachal and experiences the typical climate pattern of high-altitude locales. If you are seeking all-outdoor activities, then the summer months of April to June make for the best time to visit McLeodganj. If you want to enjoy the winter in the mountains, experience snowfall and more, then peak colder months. The rainy season can be slushy so, it’s better to avoid driving around or trek through the hilly areas during these months.
How to Reach Mcleodganj
The hill station of McLeodganj is well-connected to the northern states and cities of India but the nearest major junction is in Delhi.
McLeodganj does not have a railway station of its own. The nearest railway stations for the Kangra Valley Railway line are at Kangra and Nagrota, which are about 20 km south of Dharamshala. You can get trains from major northern cities to either of these destinations. The nearest railhead is in Pathankot, about 90 km away. You can take a train to Pathankot from Delhi or any of the nearby major cities/towns. From there, you can book a cab to reach McLeodganj.
There are two ways you can travel by road to McLeodganj.
By bus – You can take an overnight bus from New Delhi to Dharamshala. From there, you can take another local bus to McLeodganj. There are plenty of private and state-run bus services by Himachal Roadways and Himachal Tourism that ply between New Delhi and Dharamshala.
By cab – You can easily book a direct cab from Delhi, Chandigarh, or any other city in Punjab and drive down to Mcleodganj.
McLeodganj does not have any direct flight connectivity. The nearest air strip is at Gaggal/ Dharamsala- Kangra/Kangra Airport (DHM) at a distance of 20 km from McLeodganj, which serves the town. From there you can book a taxi to reach McLeodganj. If you are flying from other parts of the country, then you can reach Delhi and book a Delhi airport taxi to drive to McLeodganj.
Places to Visit in Mcleodganj
Dotted with monasteries, temples, pine and cedar forests, colonial architecture, and breathtaking views of the Himalayas, McLeodganj sightseeing is as exciting as it can get.
Here are the most famous places to see and visit in Mcleodganj –
- Guna Devi Temple – an ancient and sacred temple in McLeodganj. Surrounded by lush green Oak, and Deodar trees, this temple has a mystical significance.
- Masroor Temple – the 8th century Hindu temple boasts ancient Indian rock-cut architecture and reveals the beauty of the traditional North Indian Nagra style of stone carvings.
- Dal Lake Mcleodganj – Set amidst the lush green Deodar forests, the beautiful Mcleodganj Dal Lake offers boating options. The peaceful setting surrounded by pine and cedar-clad hills makes this the best lake in McLeodganj and a popular tourist spot.
- St. John’s in the Wilderness – an 18th-century church. A colonial-era church, it boasts Neo-Gothic architecture surrounded by tranquil pine forests and mountain views.
- Mcleodganj Bhagsu Falls – a scenic mountain waterfall and a popular tourist spot. Also called the Bhagsunag Falls, this glacial cascade has a clear pool and flanked by nature trails, where people often go for treks and day hikes.
- Sunset Point Mcleodganj – a viewing point on the hill. A vantage point in Naddi, this hilltop offers great views of sunsets and vistas of surrounding mountain ranges.
- Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts – This cultural center showcases traditional Tibetan stage performances including Lhamo – the local folk opera. Don’t miss the annual Shoton Opera Festival.
- Tsuglagkhang Complex Dalai Lama Temple – the home of presiding Dalai Lama. The complex houses a huge gilded statue of Buddha along with several shrines, temples, a Tibetan museum, and souvenir stores with a sacred temple complex.
- Namgyal Monastery – a secluded monastery perched on a hill, with incredible views of Himalayas. It is one of the biggest Tibetan monasteries of the region, where monks preach about sacred arts, philosophy, debate and meditation.
- Tibet Museum – a state museum housing political and cultural history of Tibet. It houses Tibetan historical documents, Thangka images, pottery, manuscripts and other handicraft items. You can also buy paintings and souvenirs here.
Things to Do in Mcleodganj
The charming hill town offers a host of places to explore in Mcleodganj. Here are some of the best things to do in Mcleodganj:
- Trek to the Bhagsu waterfalls, one of the most famous destinations for trekking in McLeodganj. The 12 km trek starts from Mcleodganj and passes through Dharamkot, Galu, and Naddi Village with beautiful views.
- Join a group for trekking in Triund. This is the best of the Mcleodganj trekking options. The trek ranges from moderate to intense and explores the Triund top, Triund valley, and Triund lake.
- Try camping in the hills and enjoy stargazing. One of the most fulfilling McLeodganj adventures, camping allows you to enjoy the endless beauty of the Himalayas in a serene setting.
- Experience the McLeodganj nightlife. Owing to its huge international tourist population, the nightlife in McLeodganj is quite vibrant with many clubs and bars with live music and good food.
- Indulge in spiritual healing. McLeodganj is also known for meditation, yoga, and ayurvedic healing. Places like Om Yoga Centre, Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre, Universal Yoga Centre, and Tushita Meditation Centre are popular places for those who seek complete rejuvenation of body and mind.
- Explore the gorgeous Kangra Valley. It is known for its sprawling tea gardens, wildflower valleys, and also a great place for paragliding and day treks.
Best Places to Eat in Mcleodganj
A hotspot for international tourists, trekkers, and backpackers, the food culture of McLeodganj is a mix of international and traditional Tibetan flair.
Here are some of the best cafes to visit in McLeodganj –
- Tibet Kitchen, Jogiwara Road, House #1 Main Square – casual diner serving traditional Tibetan dishes and Chinese food.
- Jimmys Italian Kitchen in McLeodGanj, Near Green Hotel – a popular restaurant with mountain views, serving classic continental dishes and Italian food.
- The Clay Oven Restaurant, McLeod Ganj, Tipa Road Near lhasa hotel, Main Square – local restaurant serving multi-cuisine food and specializing in Tibetan dishes.
- Takhyil Peace Café, McLeodganj – one of the top cafes in McLeodganj, the casual eatery serves Tibetan food and snacks, among other café food.
Popular Places to Visit near Mcleodganj
To complete your mountain vacation, explore these other popular hill stations near Mcleodganj:
- Bir Billing, 72 km – the twin village of Bir and Billing is also an old Tibetan settlement with ancient monasteries. It is also a popular destination for adventurous sports like trekking, mountain biking, camping, angling, and paragliding.
- Palampur, 42 km – a pretty little hamlet in the Kangra Valley, Palampur features tea gardens, rolling hills and views of the snow-capped Dhauladhar mountains. Explore the Saurabh Van Vihar, or go on a trek to the Birni Devi Temple for views of the Shivalik Mountain Range.
- Dalhousie, 116 km – the most popular hilly getaway near Dharamshala, Dalhousie boasts old British and Scottish vibes with colonial structures, grasslands, lakes, and pine groves. Also visit the village of Khajjiar, the mini-Switzerland of India.
Mcleodganj Hotels & Resorts
To make your vacation truly comfortable and memorable, here are some of the best places to stay in Mcleodganj –
- Great Himalayan Resort
- Hotel Udechee Huts
- Himgiri Resort n Spa by Shree Hari Hotels
- Rana’s House Mcleodganj
- Heaven’s View B&B
- Hotel D’s Casa
- Indraprastha Spa Resort
- Cygnett Style Signature
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