A gastronomer’s paradise – Mcleod Ganj is a stomach-full for anyone with a galactic appetite.
While the cafés offer a lot more than what is served on the plate, the Tibetan cuisine is cooked to perfection.
The subtle spices and wholesome vegetables will comfort you. While one must definitely eat at the local eateries and restaurants, street food can’t be missed out on.
Wake & Bake
Start your day with a serving of sweet bread and tea, served on every nook and corner of Mcleod Ganj. Pick a quick bite of this after you take a stroll in the quiet lanes as the morning birds wake the rest of the town. Walk to Hope Gallery to get your appetite running for more.
Hope Gallery’s breakfast menu is filled with nostalgia. With egg fry and toast, cookies and milk, cereal with fruits and deliciously creamy hot chocolate – it surely will make your inner-child happy.
Did we mention they have floor-seating tables, colour pencils and paper to doodle and sketch while you wait for your meal?
Or you can also take a look at the walls and let K Tenzin’s photographs amaze you.
Don’t forget to take back a memoir from Hope Gallery: they have really cute postcards, stamps and notebooks.
What’s for lunch?
For lunch, you will have to rock-paper-scissor a decision between these options.
Tibetan Yak Restaurant is an eatery run by a local family. A home cooked Thukpa can ease out almost pain. The walls are traditionally painted with figures of Yaks and every table has a small lantern making a dimly lit setting.
Carpe Diem is the answer to all your craving calls. The authenticity of this beautiful eatery keeps you coming back for more. The Pad Thai Phak (flat noodles in a tangy sauce) and Phad Phad Thai (a stir fry chicken served with rice) is a celebration of spice and flavours one has to experience.
The sizzlers unlike the ones we commonly eat are served with a healthy grilled steak, mushroom sauce and veggies on the side.
The ambience of Carpe Diem stays true to its name. The tables come alive with photographs of previous diners and the walls are lined with paintings and chama masks.
You will spot street sellers selling momos at every nook and corner. Served either steamed or fried (chicken- Rs. 40 for 10 pieces and vegetarian – Rs. 30 for 10 pieces, as of 2016) these are the best to-go meals.
Attention meat lovers: Bite into a hot piece of crispy fried chicken with sprinkled spices or served in a spicy gravy. It is a street delicacy to savour with hot naan and a cold beer. The soya kebabs (often referred to as vegetarian chicken) are colourful roasts of chunks, a popular on-the-go food when in the market.
Dinner is served!
End your food trail with a hearty feast at Jimmy’s Kitchen.
Italian food so authentic that you’ll be polishing the plates, Jimmy’s is also a local favourite. Start off with the chikonara (chicken and cheese) and double cheese margarita pizza and then maybe fill yourselves up with a portion of baked arrabiatta pasta and overloaded chicken pasta.
While Jimmy’s is crowded most of the days, you can find a corner with a bookshelf and explore through the vast collection of poems written by exiled monks.
Tibet Quality Bakery has all the sugar you need.
It’s a tough choice between Yak Cheesecake, Nanoma and Himalayan Bars, Gooey brownies and fruit cookies. Savour these stargazing on a high porch overlooking the mesmerizing Dhauladhars.
Closest airport: Gaggal airport
Fly from Delhi to Gaggal, a town near to Mcleod Ganj. There are two daily flights — Air India and SpiceJet. From Gaggal Airport it is about 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) to Mcleod Ganj, and takes about 45 minutes by taxi.
Closest Railhead: Pathankot Junction Railway Station
Once you reach Pathankot, there are three options to get to Mcleod Ganj: Taxi (easiest and quickest); bus (convenient but usually crowded); and the Kangra Toy Train (slow but spectacular, tickets are available at Pathankot station). The Toy Train leaves Pathankot at 9:05am and reaches Kangra at 1:45pm.
Roadway: HRTC Delhi to Dharamshala
An 8-hour long bus ride from Delhi to Mcleod Ganj costs anywhere between 650 (Non-A/C) and 1200 (Volvo A/C). From Dharamshala, one can take a local bus or cab to the Mcleod Ganj Main Chowk.
It’s best to explore Mcleod Ganj on foot as everything is within a 1-3km radius. However, one may use the cab or rickshaw services that have a fixed price for specific areas (Rs. 400 from Main Chowk to Gallu Temple).
WHERE TO STAY?
Unlike conventional hotels in Mcleod Ganj, Pink House gives a warm home-like feel. Very upbeat with their wall art and a front porch that overlooks the mighty Dhauladhars, it is most suited for all sorts of travellers. (Reservations: +91 98055 27124; [email protected]).
Travelling solo? Zostel chain of hostels make the perfect place to bunk in. You’ll meet fellow travellers, have fun evenings with in-house entertainment and have scenic views to savour a hot cup of tea. (Reservations: www.zostel.com, 022-48962268).
WHERE TO EAT?
HOPE GALLERY: 098821 62770; Mcleod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219;10am – 5pm
CARPE DIEM: Potala Road, Mcleod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh 176219; 9am – 11pmTIBETAN QUALITY BAKERY: Opposite Carpe Diem, Potala Road, Mcleod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh 176219
JIMMY’S KITCHEN: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219; 8am – 8pm