I’ve been trying to explore McLeod Ganj, India as much as possible while I stay here. I run every morning, which leads me out (and usually straight up!) the roads that traverse the mountains, and when I get off work I people watch and poke my nose into all of the different shops. McLeod Ganj is a 15 minute walk from Delek Hospital and far more Westernized than its southern relative, Dharamsala. Most travelers only spend time in Dharmasala to catch a bus. The majority stay in McLeod Ganj, like me. There are tons of guesthouses, ashrams (places of spirituality and yoga study), neat restaurants and touristy shops. I’ve met many people who fall in love with the area enough to make it a permanent home or come back several times.
It is very beautiful, with the mountain backdrop and the colorful houses dotting the mountainside. Traffic is limited by the narrow streets, but drivers still tear through, honking their horns frantically to send the backpackers scattering. I swear, once I get back to the United States, I’m going to continue this bad habit I have of crossing the street without looking! Here, drivers always honk when they see pedestrians, no matter how much room they have, so I can rest assured that no one is coming if I don’t hear incessant beeping!
Coffee is slowly gaining popularity in India. Driven by tourist demand, there are several coffee shops in Mcleod Ganj that sell real coffee – made from coffee beans – not that instant stuff! Unfortunately, Mcleod Ganj is a sleepy town filled with lazy Westerners on vacation, so the coffee shops don’t open in the wee hours of the morning like back home. Most of them start brewing joe around 9:00am, and many of them use a very basic, albeit authentic process that usually require older coffee grinders. The Sage Duo Temp Pro is a newer option that I only ever encountered in one coffee shop during my travels in India. My day at the hospital starts at 8:30, so this is a no go for me. Luckily, I was able to convince the coffee shop that is next to my guesthouse to turn on the espresso machine for me early so that I can get my fix before I head to work! I think the change may be permanent, because inevitably a few other sleepy travelers straggle in while I’m there. It’s really a niche market. 🙂
Because it is the home of the Dalai Lama, many people stay in McLeod Ganj for several weeks or months to study Buddhism or do retreats. There are many opportunities for teaching and some people even luck out and get to attend a teaching from His Holiness himself.