It was my first trip with Photographers of India to the very own Tibetan settlement of India. We were to go on a 5-day tour to McLeodganj and Dharamshala. When I arrived at Mcleodganj, I was awestruck by its divine beauty. We could see the Triund range, small houses on the hills and the roads covered by tall pine trees. McLeodganj has become a commercial place buzzing with tourists and monks all around. Besides, one can see long lines of shops installed alongside roads, selling jewellery, shawls and handicrafts. McLeodganj is one of the best places for street shopping at an affordable price.
Since many foreigners also visit the place, many stylish cafes have opened up at the service of tourists offering delicious Tibetan and Italian food along with coffee. I am not a foodie but thanks to my new friend from Portugal, I tried my hand at different food items for the first time and instantly fell in love with the food of McLeodganj. Apart from food the most enticing thing about the cafes there was their ambience. From every café, I could spot snow-capped Triund Range as if the whole town is surrounded by it.
1) SHIVA CAFE
My first visit was to the famous Shiva Café. I imagined it to be very luxurious but to my surprise, Shiva Café was only reachable after a strenuous trek to Bhagsu Waterfall. It is a small café made of stones but the interior walls are painted with art and paddings are arranged on the floor. Outside the café, there are numerous stones painted with quotes and pictures of Lord Shiva and lord Ganesha. There are benches laid outside the café as well with a splendid view of Bhagsu Waterfall. The best food you would find here is Maggi.
2) MORGANS’S PLACE
As if this was not enough, our dinner was arranged at Morgan’s Place. This time I did not expect much. Again after another strenuous walk on the slopes, we arrived at the café famous for its oven-baked thin crust pizzas. Since they make the base fresh on the spot, we had to wait for an hour for our pizza. The pizza was delicious and worth the walk. My friends and I were tired from the walk and whilst waiting also gobbled up Pasta and some ice-tea.
3) NADDI CAFE
The next day we went to Dharamshala. Thankfully we didn’t have to walk much on this day as jeeps were arranged for us. By the time of sunset around 4 pm we arrived at Naddi Café famous for its sunset view. I couldn’t taste the food here as I was overwhelmed by the view. As the sun set it spread its rays on the serene white Triund Mountain, turning it into light red colour. I still can’t forget that magical moment.
4) JIMMY’S ITALIAN KITCHEN
Then we had our dinner at Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen again famous for its Pizzas. But I tried Tibetan food and ordered noodles with boiled vegetables in garlic hot water. Yummy!
5) TREK AND DINE CAFE
The next day, which was our last day in McLeod, was left free for us to explore the place on our own and obviously I explored as many cafés as I could. I had breakfast at Trek and Dine Café. It is located in Dharamkot and we arrived there after half an hour of walk. As a signature style of McLeod, the café was covered with paddings on the floor and there was a small bookshelf filled with travel books at one corner of the café. Drinking coffee with a book in one hand and looking over the view of hills is the best way to relax, that only cafes of McLeodganj can provide.
6) RONGPA CAFE
Later in the evening we went to Rongpa Café coffee and had our share of authentic coffee. Again the wall art was its mind captivating element.
7) WOESER BAKERY
Later we set out in search of Woeser Bakery. It is easier to miss out on it as it is a small bakery located downstairs of Black Magic Café. But it is the most famous bakery of McLeod. It contains everything from cakes to pies to truffles. I tried my hand at the delicious carrot cake.
8) SEED CAFE
But the most terrific travel story that I will never forget took place in Seed Café. It was our last night at McLeodganj. We were looking for dinner when we bumped into seed café. We entered the café and realized that there was an open mic night with no one to perform and no one to watch. I exclaimed, “This is perfect! No one to judge me, and I’ll sing my guts out!” So we turned the open mic into a Karaoke session, and all of us sang, laughed, bleated, exchanged our travel stories, spoke about our homes and savoured every bite. This was probably the best farewell to McLeodganj.
Besides the above-mentioned cafes, Illiterati café is also very famous and one should definitely try out street food- especially momos.