For my last post about my time at Delek Hospital and Mcleod Ganj, I want to leave you with a post of my favorite things to do here. This is a collection of experiences, activities, places to eat and things to do in Mcleod Ganj.
Mcleod Ganj is a great place to volunteer. Given that the Tibetan government in exile is located here and that a large part of the population is Tibetan, there are many, many opportunities to work for the Tibetan cause. Personally, I volunteered at Delek Hospital and Tibetan Children’s Village, and also spent a day working in the Dharamsala slums via Tong-Len. These were amazing learning opportunities for me and I am confident that you will be able to find something as rewarding for yourself if you spend time here.
Visiting Norbulingka Institute in Sidhpur was one of my favorite day trips out of Mcleod Ganj (see my post here). I recommend taking the public bus, which takes about an hour and costs 15 rupees ($.30). The institute is beautiful and serene and is dedicated to preserving Tibetan handicrafts. Don’t forget to check out their awesome cafe! While at Norbulingka, you can also visit Guyato Monestary, also known as the Karmapa Temple. The Karmapa is one of the four head of one of the main schools of Tibetan Buddhism and does teachings at Guyato Monestary between 2:30 and 3:00pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
I also loved trekking to Triund. It is about a half day hike from Mcleod Ganj to the top and back and the view of the snow-capped Himalayas is amazing!
Take a few hours to visit the Tsuglagkhang Buddhist Complex, home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Museum, and walk the prayer wheel circuit to improve your good karma.
Although it’s no Rishikesh (the birthplace of yoga), I did check out a few yoga places in Mcleod Ganj. By far my favorite teacher was Amit Namdev of Amit Reiki and Yoga. He has classes that are appropriate for all yoga experience levels and takes time to give hands on instruction during class to help you improve your practice. His calm manner and great teaching style were exactly what I was looking for in a yoga teacher. I am lucky enough to now call him a friend.
I couldn’t start my day without coffee, but unfortunately most coffee shops in Mcleod Ganj don’t open early enough for me to grab a cup of real (not instant) coffee before I head to the hospital. Thank goodness for the boys at Cafe Budan. They open around 7:45am and offer amazing espresso and coffee as well as a full Western breakfast menu. The staff there is wonderful as well and were happy to help me practice Tibetan in the mornings.
One of my favorite places to eat in Mcleod Ganj was Crepe Pancake. You absolutely must try the owner’s burritos! Apparently, I Mexican nun spent some time in Mcleod and taught her how to make an amazing burrito from scratch. The food takes a while to come, as it’s all made to order by one woman, but it’s definitely worth it.By far the place I visited most often for dinner was Peace Cafe. They have a full menu of India, Western and Tibetan dishes, and everything I tried was better than I could have imagined. My favorites were their tofu and vegetables (in broth, lightly seasoned with Indian spices) and the tofu massala scramble (tofu, eggs and spices), and tofu and veg thupka (a Tibetan dishes with noodles and veggies). My mouth is watering just thinking of it! Next door is a little place that sells made fresh sourdough and whole wheat bread. Every time I went in the loaves were so fresh they were still warm!
Other places not pictured:
Common Ground Cafe – great for healthy and thoughtfully prepared dinners and amazing, decadent desserts. Their homemade toffee bars are buttery, delicious heaven.
Bhagsu Waterfall – a nice 30 minute hike from Mcleod Ganj. Go early before it gets busy.
Misty Woods Guesthouse – my home away from home in Mcleod Ganj. Beautiful rooms, great location and an amazing staff that became like family.