My cousins and I have been quite close since my childhood days. But now everyone is working in and outside Kolkata. It is mandatory for us to meet up during Durga Puja like our childhood days when we used to live in a joint family. Hence, we decided on taking a trip to Dharamshala, Dharamkot and McLeod Ganj in the state of Himachal Pradesh during the five days of the festival. I’ve been living in Delhi for the past 5 years. So I asked my cousins to meet at my place in Delhi and then leave for Dharamshala together. It takes around 12 hours to reach Dharamshala from Delhi by train. So I suggested my cousins to book a cab from a dependable taxi service in Dharamshala for the whole trip before we reach our destination.
Being the youngest of the cousins, I was the most excited to take this trip, especially since none of our parents would be there to supervise or keep a watch on us. When the three of my cousins came to my place in Delhi, it was like a reunion party after months of not seeing each other. We have become so immersed in our work that we do not have time to live life and spend time with our family. Leaving all that work behind, for now, we were heading for Dharamshala from my place in Delhi.
Reaching Dharamshala from Delhi
All my cousins had decided to book a cab from Delhi to Dharamshala directly. But I have always loved train journeys more than road trips. Added to that, the road trip would’ve taken more than 10 hours to cover that huge distance. As I had predicted, the train journey rekindled the connection amongst all of us and we bonded over tea and coffee while sharing our recent whereabouts. The next day when we reached Dharamshala at 6:00 AM and the cab was waiting for us outside the railway station.
Exploring Lower Dharamshala: Nature and Culture in Dharamshala
As much as we love travelling to new places and exploring the destination, all of us were tired from the 12-hour journey. So we rested for a few hours and then set out to the famous Kotwali Bazaar that was near our hotel. Loads of Tibetan handicrafts were being sold in the shops there and none of us could resist ourselves from buying the skillfully made and colourful articles. After spending more than an hour in the marketplace, we took our cab to visit the lush tea gardens that my brother had suggested. Upon arriving, we were stunned by the enormous area that the lush tea garden covered. The popular Kangra tea comes from here, we were told by the local people there. Two of my cousins were extreme rock-climbing enthusiasts, but unfortunately, the rest of us weren’t. So they went rock climbing over the ridges of Dhauladhar range while the rest of us went for the famous Kareri Lake trekking.
Upper Dharamshala: Dharamkot and McLeod Ganj
Spending two days in Dharamshala, we set out to McLeod Ganj which took hardly 20 minutes to cover the little distance of 6 kilometres. Apart from the ever attracting Tibetan handicrafts, there was also the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, which was a very interesting place for history and culture enthusiasts like me and my two other sisters. We’d heard so much about this small town that we had to visit the most famous place here – Tsuglag Khang, the temple of Dalai Lama. Within that trance-like ambience, we saw the different statues of Shakyamuni, Avalokitesvara and Padmasambhava. The next day was the last day of our trip and we set out to Dharamkot to enjoy our last bit of vacation time. In 15 minutes, we reached the small town located on the crest of a hill above McLeod Ganj. It is said that spiritual seekers visit this town often to look for their peace in the lap of nature. During our last few hours in the hilly area, we decided to have lunch at one of the many cafeterias. We sat at a table on the balcony of the cafeteria and sipped hot coffee while looking over the wide range of the Kangra valley standing tall in front of us.
The Day of Return
If I could, I would’ve built a tiny café on the mountains and stayed there forever swinging in the lap of the Himalayas. Maybe someday, I will. Till then, adieu!