Dharamshala Getaway

17 Apr 2014

We ran with our luggage. None of the buses at ISBT were to Dharamshala. Just as we were about to give up hope, a guy said, “It’s just started from the platform and is near the gate. Run and you can catch it.” More running and I got there just as the driver was about the close the luggage doors, just in time to get our luggage in and get in. I still can’t believe we actually caught the bus. This vacation definitely started on an exciting note.

I woke up to scary, but beautiful mountains all around us. The fear was definitely ecause of how our driver drove the bus like a bike, squeezing into tight spots (you have a dirty mind…) band (seemingly) barely using the brakes. After we got to Dharamshala, the bus driver seemed extremely careful, because our taxi ride to Naddi, where we booked a cottage, was scarier. We did that trip several times during our stay and every single time I was convinced, we’d meet with an accident on a hairpin turn. The drivers in these mountains seem to have missed that lesson about honking on a blind curve, or at least slowing down a bit.

View from Naddi

Staying in Naddi had its downsides and upsides. We had a spectacular view and the only noise we could hear were the sparrows at the doors and the kids playing cricket in the small ground behind us. It was also a bit far from everything and we would be charged Rs. 200 to McLeodganj or Rs. 300 to Dharamshala. After we caught up with sleep on the first day, we walked around and saw the sights in Naddi. We thought about going to a waterfall nearby, but we were told it probably wasn’t worth it. We walked down to the Dal Lake instead. Now, it’s only 2 km away, but in retrospect, I’m not sure it was a good idea. We learned that we’re both not in good shape and walking downhill is actually harder. Dal lake is beautiful and quiet. We sat there for some time resting our feet and catching our breath enjoying the view.

The climb up and walk back to our rooms thoroughly exhausted us. The next morning, we went down to Dharamshala. After lunch, our plans were to visit the Infinity Hackerspace. It was quite the bus ride and then a “20 minute walk” which took us 40 minutes. The view from there is just spectacular. It looks as though the mountains are just another walk away (of course, it’s not). I spent the afternoon chatting to sva and planemad about their life there, internet woes, and renewable energy. We started heading back after an hour or two long stay there. This vacation definitely included more exercise than I get with my daily life (I think life is trying to tell me something :P).

The next day was our last day in Dharamshala and it was reserved for McLeodganj. We had the most physical strain on this day because we took the wrong turn to the temple and ended up going down quite a bit and climbing up an even stepper slope. But hey, we finally got there! The Tibetan museum in the complex was eye-opening to the problems of the Tibetan people and their conflicts with China. We seem to never get a clear picture of this conflict. On the way back, we did some shopping and got something to eat.

Another view from Naddi

While we were eating lunch, the sky outside was clear and it was a slightly chilly day. Right after we finished lunch, visibility outside dropped to less than 50m and suddenly the whole placed had a magical feel. Just as suddenly as it came, the clouds vanished and it was back to normal. I’ll remember that moment though, when the restaurant and the square seemed empty for 5 minutes. I couldn’t even see across the road.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable vacation. It taught me that I’m completely out of shape physically and I’ll need to do something about it :-)

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