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Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj

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Himachal Pradesh : Kangra : Dharamsala : McLeod Ganj
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McLeod Ganj (or Upper Dharamsala) is a hill station in Himachal Pradesh, and also the headquaters of the Tibetan Government in Exile. It is a very popular hang-out for the backpacker crowd in India.

Understand

Get in

By Bus

Most people come to Dharamsala by bus. It has good connections with other parts of North India, although the journeys are often slow due to the narrow winding roads in the hills.

By Train

Change at Pathankot to single gauge line to Kangra. Kangra is 18 km from McLeod Ganj.

Get around

See

Do

  • 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

Learn

Courses

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.

Work

Volunteer

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.

Buy

Eat

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.

Drink

Although there are a couple bars, chai is the beverage of choice here, there are also a couple tea shop hang-outs, and many of the restaurants are pleasant places to sit over a cup of tea.

Sleep

There are a huge number of hotels here, many offer a wide selection of rooms at diferent prices, all are located close to the main Chowk, where the bus drops you off. It's easy to walk around here and find someplace that suits you budget and needs.

  • 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.

Get out

The many tourist agents' offices sell tickets for deluxe coaches going to Delhi and Manali. The small bus station in McLeod Ganj sells tickets for state buses leaving from Lower Dharamashala as well as from McLeod Ganj.

Near by

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.

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