McLeod Ganj (or Upper Dharamsala) is a hill station in Himachal Pradesh in India.
Take Dharamsala bus from the Interstate Bus Terminal in Old Delhi. The journey takes about ten hours - though feels much longer on the bumpy roads!
Change at Pathankot Station to single gauge line to Kangra. Kangra is 18 km from McLeod Ganj.
- Visit the 17th Karmapa at his temporary residence at the Gyuto Tantric University in the town of Sidhbari near McLeod Ganj. For detailed information, check the Kagyu school's official web site: Kagyu Office
Courses range from Yoga, Meditation, Reiki, Tibetan and Indian cooking classes, Tibetan speaking classes and Thai massage. All courses include vegetarian meals, and are offered at the following meditation centers:
- Vipassana - Situated near Dharamkot, offers a 10 days meditation course. You need to register in advance at their web-site. The course will teach you the Vipassana technique, you have to be in complete silence, and you are provided 2 meals and very light dinner. The course is free, you can leave a donation if you please.
- Z-Meditation - http://www.zmeditation.com/ - 5 days meditation course in McLeod Ganj (go down the stairs at Yongling school, it's the big green building). The courses is much more varied than Vipassana - it includes a few techniques on meditation, some with painting, some about subjects related to your own life, and also 2 hours of daily Yoga, 3 meals, a sieats and a drinks break. You also have to be silent.
- Tushita Meditation - 10 days meditation with Buddhist teachings. Lunch is included. Silence is only half a day.
- Asho Institute in Bhagsu Village also provide courses in Ayurvedic nutrition and Tai-Chi.
There are some opportunities to volunteer while you are here.
Teaching English and computers are most common options. There are a few institutions for benefit of exile Tibetans and local Indians. There are adds on billboards and also in the free local magazine "Contact". There is also an option to come and talk to Tibetans to help them improve their English, while getting to know each other's culture and personal story. Go to the organized meetings of one of the organizations and don't accept requests to privately tutor monks that address you on the streets; some of them will ask you to be their sponsor after a few days.
For long term options (3 months or more) ask at the LHA office in the middle of the town.
McLeod Ganj has a very good selection of restaurants, especially in the mid to upper range, it offers a range of international choices catering to foreign tourist tastes.
- Rewa Cafe. Down the hill on Jogiwara Road, five minutes past the post office. Best Tibetan food in town.
- Momo Cafe. Best momos in town. The chai is also particularly good.
- JJI's Cafe. Delicious Special Muesli. Sometimes they play Bob Dylan.
- Nick's Italian Kitchen. Great Italian food at cheap prices. Very popular.
- Lung-Ta. Japanese food. Non-profit, proceeds go towards helping to free political prisoners.
Drinking isn't really the pasttime in McLeod, unless you're talking chai.
- Green Hotel. Nice people, good breakfasts.
For long-term stays, head down the Yongling stairs on Jogiwara Road; there are about a dozen cheap good places down there, with great views.
If you are looking for a quieter place try Bhagsu or Dharamkot. Both are very close to McLeod Ganj. However most courses and volunteer options are at McLeod.