I know now. I know a little more about how much a simple thing like a snow fall can mean to a person. _ Sylvia Path.The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Path.
I am not a winter person. Then why am I here in Himachal in the thick of snow fall ? The reason is my desperation to see the difference snow fall can bring to a place . The sights , the lifestyle and the experience a place can offer changes completely in different seasons . Snow covers as a beautiful blanket over the entire place.
Dharamkot is a village situated in the crest of a hill above McLeodGanj. I had lived in Dharamkot for almost a month in last Summer and I fell in love with the place. I was getting trained as a Yoga instructor from one of the institutions there. I wanted to experience the same place during snow fall .I live in Jammu and my destination is around 200 km from my home. My husband offered me a drive to the hills which made the travel easier for me.When we finally reached McLeodGanj , the road became narrower and slippery due to snow fall. We could some how make it to Tushita meditation center which comes half way to Dharamkot from McleodGanj. Vehicles were already stuck in the snow and an Army jawan offered us help to clear the traffic and get a parking for our vehicle. Salute to the Indian Army for being everywhere to get you through difficulties.
We parked the car at Tushita , the center for the study and practice of Buddhism from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. Dharamkot is up the hill and we had to walk for two more kilometers in the snow. The child in me got unleashed when I was crushing the fresh snow under my shoes.It felt amazing to walk on the fresh snow that nobody else has walked on.
Few things you would like to know about Dharamkot.
1 . Dharamkot is for people who wants to be one with Nature and do some soul searching.The ambiance of the cafes there is prominently Hippie.
2. The cafes in Dharamkot offers International cuisines and the portion size is mostly european. Food and stay is not too expensive. Infact . It ‘s easy to find rooms ranging from Rs. 400 to Rs. 1500. The facilities would differ with the price. Home stays and guest houses are simple , safe and clean.
3 . The roads are approachable in all seasons unless it snows heavily. I had to walk from Tushita. So backpacks and light weight travel bags are highly recommended.
4. Carrying an extra pair of walking shoes and plenty of socks would save you from cold feet.
5.The rooms are heated with blowers .Do not expect central heating .
6 . If you are open to conversations, you will find a global crowd in the cafes. Exchange of ideas, cultures and wisdom would do good to you. 🙂
7. The best time to visit are throughout the year. 🙂 March – May if you want to avoid heat or Oct -dec if you want to avoid thick winters.
8. Dharamkot can be called as a yoga hub. Chose carefully if you are looking for certification courses from here.This place has spiritual vibes and I love meditating here.
9. Dharamkot hosts trekkers who are going to Triund . You can plan the trekks while you are already there. You can enjoy the place more when you are not following any agenda.
The UNMAD : Soulful place to stay at Dharamkot.
I stayed at The Unmad for three nights in Dharamkot. If you are looking for a clean stay ,homely food , soulful conversations and safety , I would highly recommend this place.The Owners Aparna and Krish add a personal touch to everything they do for you. The food tastes of love and care . When I reached Tushita , Krish came down the hills to accompany me to the guest house. Those long conversations and ginger teas will be missed . Looking forward for more such stays there.
Salvation Cafe : The flying Mascara loves it here .
Salvation cafe offers International choices and best of the bakery. The cakes and cookies were amazing. If you are a non vegeterian , this place will have something for your carnivorous needs. The visitors are mostly from various countries and hence the global atmosphere. Breakfast options are plenty including Indian parattas.
Wall signing with love
I enjoyed my peaceful stay in Dharamkot. Watching the snow flakes , reading my favorite books, reading, sleeping and hearty conversations gave me enough time to ponder over my life and existence. We all need such get away and stronger coming backs in life. On my way back to Jammu, I took a taxi to Dharamsala bus stand. On the way to Dharamsala, I stopped in Mcleodganj for some woolen shopping.
Budhism and Dharamkot
You may not find too many Buddhists or followers in Dharamkot. But, a few meters down the hill is the seat in exile of his Holiness,the 14 th Dalai lama.What attracts me most about the monks I met in my journey is their child like inner self and ability to smile deep from their heart. It won’t be a lie if I say that I would one day want to be in their company to learn more about their practices and meditation techniques. My mind is still an overactive monkey and all I am doing is giving it a banana or two to keep it busy for time being 😉 .Something tells me that these monks can show me a better way to live.From my Local friend, I got to know few facts about monks. I always thought they were vegetarians. But surprisingly , they are not. Even Dalai Lama accepts non vegetarian food if it’s not cooked only to please him. He believes in eating anything which is available in that particular situation.
From Dharamsala bus stand , I boarded my bus to Jammu. My mind felt at peace after this trip and I will go back to this place a few more times in my life.The snow flakes , the crushing of fresh snow to make my shoe marks on them , the deep conversations with people I met, food , music and sights made me a happy person.