Monday, July 7, 2014

Dharamkot and Tushitha

Finally we traveled like regular tourists. We went to Dharamkot, a small village further up from Mcleodganj just after the Bhagsu Nag mandir. We stayed in a homestay and what a different world it is. Mcleodganj is way too crowded. Narrow roads, traffic and congestion, shopping places, restaurants all squeezed into the hill top and no wonder people claimed that it is no longer the small non descriptive tibetan hamlet it used to be.

We stayed at a homestay run by Ria, a german who settled in india some 26 years back after marrying an Indian. It's a decent place  and doesnt hurt your pocket and bonus being able to taste some yummy cakes prepared by Ria. Her children are sweet and we had a great stay at their place.

One day we went up to Gallu temple from where the trek route to Triund peaks will start. Tirund trek is one of the easily accessible treks to himalayas. I birded for an hour at the temple and bagged two beauties - the rufous sibia and the black-headed jay. The rufous sibia calls echoed in the valley, the breeze, the view of the valley and the mountains, the music from the sitar being played in one of the hotel rooms all made the two hours spent a top the hill memorable. I vowed to return to the place to bird for couple of days and probably sight the Himalayan monal and trek the Triund peak sometime.

Black-headed Jay (Garrulus lanceolatus)
Black-headed Jay

Rufous Sibia (Heterophasia capistrata)
Rufous Sibia

Green-backed tit (Parus monticolus)
Green-backed Tit

Bar-tailed Treecreeper

After these lifers (birds), we headed back to the homestay and had lunch enroute. Since our kid cannot trek up all the way we had to hire a taxi, but the next day went to check the trek route which is different from the motorable road till Gallu Devi temple. As we were about to reach the homestay, dark clouds covered the whole valley and we were virtually chased by clouds and covered by them as we hurried our way to home. Within minutes after we reached home, it poured for an hour. We experienced the down pour in a himalayan valley

The above photo was taken at 1 pm when clouds covered and went past our room. It rained heavily. Before the rains we roamed around Dharamkot, especially the upper dharamkot where a settlement of Israelis exists. This small place is a hub of visitors from across the globe. You can encounter people from various countries living out of the place. Israelis predominantly live here and many restaurants have sign boards in hebrew and israeli food available in many small eatouts and cafes.

The next day we visited the Bagsu nag temple only to realise how much we are loving the serenity and calmness of the place. The temple is crowded with noisy regular tourists littering the place and we felt like running away. We decided not to walk the 700 mts to the crowded waterfall and hired an auto to drop is at Tushita, the buddhist meditation center. What a contrast it was, absolutely calm and wonderful location amidst forest. We had one of our wonderful experiences walking down the small road to the institute. The institute offer 10 day residential introduction course to buddhism and almost everyday(except for few) at 9-30 am they are open for public for an one hour meditation practise . Visitors were requested to maintain silence and we had a quiet and memorable visit. A place worth exploring in future.

We cut short our stay as my wife hurt her knee slipping off couple of times and we went back without trying the "family pizza"shop in Dharamkot which is apparently famous for pizza baked on stove that runs on wood. I could not try some Israeli cuisine too reserving it for next visit. I would recommend staying in dharamkot than in Mcleod ganj for the charm of small and nice neighbourhood. Gagan resorts where we tried lunch served nice food, but I would recommend staying in any home stays in Dharamkot than the hotels.

Let me close this post with a view of the pine, rhodendoron, deodar (dominating) forests of Dharamkot that I tried capturing on my mobile with a vertical composition experiment

The forests of Dharamkot, Himachal