Traveling around India can be a tiring affair, with your senses being constantly overloaded. Consequently, a break is often needed. The perfect place to relax is in one of the villages around Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas. To reach the villages you can take a bus or shared taxi from Dharamsala.
In the villages you can enjoy a nice coffee, tuck into some tasty food or go for a leisurely or strenuous hike.
A place to be sociable is the restaurant Carpe Diem in Mcleodganj. Walk up to the roof top and take a seat on the cushions around the communal table. Here everyone talks to each other and plays games. While there is no view the people and food make the atmosphere perfect. (This was taken straight after the Triund hike so please ignore the tired face).
At Carpe Diem I met a couple of traveller families with young children (super cool). There were also people to buddy up with for the hike beforehand.
To find a spot for food with a view check out Illiterati restaurant. It is also a sociable place. Grab a stool on the bench table outside and chat with those around you. The food is top notch. Don’t worry if the table looks full just grab a chair and squeeze in.
If you stay in Mcleodganj for long enough you will get to know the other travelers there and become part of the small community.
Walking from Mcleodganj you can reach Dharamkot and Bhagsu where other tourists hangout. There is also souvenir shopping to be done.
After your coffee or energy boost it is worth walking up to the waterfall past Bhagsu and eating in Cafe Shiva. The views are superb and people are chatty there too.
We enjoyed a cold coffee, Maggie noodles and vegetable biryani. Taking in a long deep breath, you can tell the air feels much less polluted than the rest of India.
Places to stay in Mcleodganj:
I shifted accomodation a few times as my room wasn’t always available or I found somewhere better. I have complied list of places that I either stayed in or checked out when scouting around.
Hotel Ekant was fairly reasonably priced 900 rupees per night for a private room (slightly on the expensive side). It was not sociable (which I needed for a couple of nights). The location was good, near cafes and the temple.
Gautama Niwas was the most reasonably priced between 400 – 550 depending on the room. Each room has a stunning balcony and is spacious. This is for a private onsuite room. It was located down a lot of steps past the backpackers hostel, down the hill some more in a yellow building. It was worth the short walk.
Hotel pink – 1000 per night for a lovely room with a balcony. The hotel is fabulous with a sociable roof top cafe and restaurant. I would recommend staying here. It was half way down the many stairs on the way to Gautama Niwas.
Ladies venture – 800 rupees per night for a standard private room. The dorms are 300 per night but a little cramped. Pretty sociable place to stay.
I would recommend staying in Mcleodganj rather than Dharamsala as there is much more going on. It is the perfect base for hiking too. And of course visiting the Dalai Lama’s home.