Travelling Destinations to Avoid
Mcleodganj - A Disappointing Destination
As the weather is quite lovely these days, my family wanted to go out to the hills and spend some time together. My mom wanted to visit the Baglamukhi Temple that is located in Sameli, Himachal Pradesh (Kangra). Since the Temple is in the middle of the Chandigarh - Mcleodganj route, we planned a road trip to Mcleodganj, where we planned to first visit the temple and then move to Mcleodganj to spend the rest of our time there.
We all were pretty excited for this mini vacation and had prepared in full swing to get the maximum enjoyment out of this little trip. We researched online to find the best place to stay to avoid having to walk too much to reach our hotel room from the market. Being a fully foodie family, we also checked many travellers’ blogs to find best places to eat at in McLeodganj and made a list of all the must visit places. As we had already visited this place a year ago, we decided miss give naddi and bhagsunag a miss this time.
On Saturday morning, we started at 9:00 AM from Chandigarh and reached Baglamukhi Temple at around 1:30 PM. On the way, we had our breakfast at Haveli, Punjab and took 2 more stops on the way to get some munchies and tea. The road was nice, smooth with moderate traffic which made us reach the Temple in 4.5 hours even after taking a lot of breaks in between.
I personally did not know anything about this Devi, so it was an amazing experience to be there. Mata Baglamukhi Devi is worshipped for victory over enemies or get acquittal in court Cases and also for warding off evil spirits. Everything in the temple was in yellow color like the prashad which is a super yummy besan ki barfi, the chunni and even restaurants nearby are names after Yellow! Inside the mandir compound, there were 6-8 hawans being performed by multiple pundits in a very pure and systematic manner. Never have I seen a pooja being performed in such a pious way in any of the temples that I have ever visited.
After we paid our respects at the Mandir, we wanted to have lunch. The restaurant adjoining the temple was named 'The Yellow' and it seemed like a good option before resuming our journey to Mcledoganj. Boy were we foodies happy to stay there! Their food preparation was amazing & tasty and if you are ever in that area or even visiting the Mata Baglamukhi Mandir, do stop here for a cup of tea! Their Rajmah Rasiley and Paneer Bhurji just made my day, they were that tasty!
Relishing an amazingly sumptuous lunch, we headed to Mcleodganj and we reached there at around 5:40 PM. On reaching McLedoganj, it felt like we have entered a crowded city like Ludhiana with litter everywhere instead of a picturesque hill-station. However, as we wanted to have a nice family vacation, ignoring the litter and chaos, we parked our car in the main parking at the beginning of the town and headed to our hotel room (Hotel Asian Plaza, Mcleodganj) that we had booked from Chandigarh. We checked in to our rooms to freshen up, ordered tea and dressed up to explore the place. By 6:30PM, we were all ready and really excited to explore and enjoy our mini-vacation. Up until now, we were all eager and ready to have a good time!
After walking around for a bit, we went to Jimmy's Italian Cafe which is our all time favorite in Mcledoganj for having pizzas and we were not disappointed at all. Although, the ambiance and appearance of the place is very average like that of a normal restaurant that we would find everywhere but the food preparation is definitely above average. After having some amazing food, we went to shop for a few home decor items. My sister was also pretty excited to buy some jewelry from the streets of Mcledoganj.
I could be wrong but I always feel that the Tibetan community living in Mcleodganj doesn't like Indians. It is possible that they specifically do not like Punjabis, for some obvious reasons but still it is not appreciable nor it is right to be bigoted towards anyone and everyone who is not Tibetan. The Tibetan shopkeepers will first give weird looks when you enter their shops. And God Forbid you ask for the price of something, then they are downright rude and arrogant. I think they have forgotten that this is our country and they are migrants. Instead of being hateful, they should be grateful to us that they get equal love and respect from this nation. That they have been given a safe haven in our country to live as they like. Instead of being friendly and thankful for a place to live in, they’re all rude towards us and sometimes even laugh at us, making jokes in their language. I know that they are anti-china and they would have their reasons but you can experience their weird attitude if you ask any of them about where can you find chinese food in mcleodganj. This community needs to understand that they have to get rid of their arrogance to live peacefully in a nation that is not theirs. We Indians do not feel bad or get offended if someone asks about a Pakistani Suit or Pakistani Parontha, then this hatred in Tibbet people is unreasonable and frankly, uncalled for. They have to understand that it is not congress ruling and ruining the nation. It is Modi Ji now and respect for Indians has increased world wide. My personal experience with the Tibetan Community has always left a bad memory. Not once in my life have I interacted with a Tibetan who is nice.
Anyways, it was around 8 PM in the evening and we were looking for a pleasant, peaceful place with live music, where we can enjoy the scenic view and have a few drinks to relax after the long drive from Chandigarh. Based on the reviews online, we first went to the Excite Bar at main square which was on the 4th floor of the building. The stairs to the bar were stinky and shady. On reaching the excite bar, we found that it is just like a Ahata, a drinking place just like we have in Punjab. The worst part was that they did not serve any hard liqour. So, the disappointment started from here.
Next, we headed to the much hyped Mcllo restaurant which is at a peak location i.e., smack dab in the middle of the main square in Mcleodganj. It was a nice place but did not meet our requirement as we wanted to sit and chill in the open, enjoy the nature & beauty of the hills. Firstly, they were not serving alcohol and secondly, it was just like any other ordinary multi-cuisine restaurant in Chandigarh. More or less, it was like having dinner at Swagath, Chandigarh.
Then, we researched more and found a place called Indique but we failed to locate this restaurant. After looking for 30 minutes, we found that the restaurant has been named M cafe now and there was not a single person in the cafe.
After all this back and forth while trying to find a nice outdoor place to sit at, we were very tired and disappointed. The last destination on our list was Illiterati Cafe which was almost a 1.5 KM far from the main square. So we boarded a taxi and reached the place. It was very beautiful place with a great ambiance, location and the works. This place did not serve alcohol but still we were fine to be there as it was the most beautiful cafe in Mcleodganj. While we were settling in the cafe, we realized that the cafe is getting closed in another 20 minutes as it was 9:10 PM already and the cafe closes at 9:30PM
Tired, weary & truly dejected, we again called the taxi and reached our hotel. Till now, we had realized that the best way to relax is to sit on the roof top terrace of the hotel and enjoy a few drinks. The hotel Asian Place was a nice hotel but the management and food was pathetic. The hotel did not have a bar but still charged us Rs 500 for consuming our own liquor on the terrace, despite the fact that we had rooms booked in the hotel. We ordered some vegetarian snacks and found a very foul smell in it. We later realized that the chef was using the same oil in which he just fried some fish and chicken. The dal and paneer were so bad that the gravy looked plasticy. May be they used 'araroot' to make the gravy thick. Even the green chutney they gave had a neon-greenish colour. Totally disgusting!
If you are reading this article, my advice is not to visit the hotel Asian Place ever.
After having the worst food of our life, we thought to cheer up our mood right by having some sweets from the bakery shops in the main square. My sister bought some pastries and cakes while I had an ice cream. Trust me, it was all expired and stale. We just took one bite of the pastry and threw it in the bin, it was that bad.
Till now, I had already started hating this place.
Anyhow, when we woke up in the morning, I went to the balcony to smoke a Cigarette and enjoy the scenic view. To my surprise, it was all 'Kachra view'. We could just see kachra (litter) all over Mcleodganj. It was worse than spending a weekend at Chandigarh which is at least clean.
From all this, I realized that Mcleodganj is not a destination for me. People who visit this place are actually the ones who crave to look for firangis and can tolerate anything as long as they can see white skin people around them. That in itself is such a disgusting thought! This is why you will see many people standing on the main square for the whole day and night, just leering at the passerbys.
We had plans to stay another day there but after this nightmare-ish experience we just came back on the same day as we realized that this place was not meant for us.
If you are planning a trip with your family, I advice you to not visit this place. It is neither hippy nor classy. Tibetans are rude and arrogant. Food is subpar and there is definitely no scenic beauty, just trash and half constructed buildings everywhere.
Go to Kasauli or Shimla, or just stay in Chandigarh, because Mcledoganj is just a waste of time!
About Aseem Shah from Chandigarh
Aseem Shah Panchkula aka Shah ji from www.aseemshah.com shares his experience of a recent trip to Mcleodganj in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh and why must travellers avoid this place. Aseem loves to explore new places & travel to new destinations in his free time,