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Driving To McLeodGanj – Day 1

This, and the six following posts, will talk about my recent road trip to McleodGanj. This is in the state of Himachal Pradhesh in India, in the Kangra District, 9 km beyond the town of Dharamshala.

McLeodGanj is about 1,750 metres above sea level, and is overshadowed by the Dauladhar Range. This is a snow capped range, and can provide a spectacular backdrop to the town. It was set up in the 19th century by the British, as a cantonment, and the town is named after a gentleman called Mcleod. Nearby, is a small village called ForsythGanj, named after a gent called Forsyth.

Dharamshala, which was set up after McLeodGanj became crowded, is called dharamshala because a dharamshala, or Hindu resting house was set up there.

Today, McleodGanj is the capital-in-exile of the Dalai Lama.

We left on the 17th January, and though people had told us you could do the drive 9about 480-490 km) in one day, I had no intention of doing so.

The title of the travel book that I am going to write is "The Journey Is The Destination", and this about sums up my philosophy for road trips. I do not like to tear about like a mad terrier on the road, and prefer to enjoy the journey.

Moreover, this is foggy season, and I did not want to risk driving in the fog early in the morning, or in the hills at night. Which was all to the good, actually.

We left at about 10 am – very late – and it was still foggy as you can see. After stopping for parathas at Murthal, we moved on in a happy and relaxed manner. We passed Panipat, a town that i had visited some time back. Then, we stopped for tea at the ZhilMil Dhaba after Karnal. Once again, they messed up the buttered toast!

After Karnal, we turned left onto Kurukshetra. This meant that we left the National Highway, and took the state highway. I had been to Kurukshetra last year, so this was familiar territory again. At Pehowa, we turned right, and after a small village, we turned left to Patiala.

I must say that it is important to always ask the proper way, because there are times when the maps don't always tell you the right way to go.

At the turning, we stopped for tea and roasted peanuts. I took some picture with B&W film, and we moved on. The state highway was charming, and I always love driving in rural Punjab.

Patiala, like most towns in Punjab, lacks charm, and luckily we were out of the town fast. I wanted to stop and photograph the burger place that we passed, but it was getting on for time.

As soon as we got back on to the National Highway, we stopped for biscuits and tea. Our stomachs were rumbling, so we stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken to head to the loo.

Yeah, we do have KFC and McDonalds on the highway. Crappy food but relatively clean toilets.

Finally, we were into Ludhiana. Our hotel was average. But then, we were paying 35 USD for the night!

Dinner at Aman Chicken. We had some of the best tandoori chicken ever….. Try it, at Model Town Extension in Ludhiana!


Profile photo of Rajiv Chopra

I have been in the corporate world all my life, and have decided to take a sabbatical from this world. I am now a budding entrepreneur in my old age. This is wonderful because, apart from giving me the freedom to paint my own canvas, and to choose the canvas, it also gives me the time to do some of the things that I really like to do. These are, to travel, to photograph and to write. I still use a Nikon D 200. I started with B&W film, and this is something that I still love. The things that I am really grateful to the corporate world are, that I got the chance to travel the world, and meet lots of very interesting people. I have, over the years, become very interested in history, physics, culture,conservation, the environment and street food! I love landscapes, street photography, people, macro photography, geometrical shapes

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