Arriving in India: The Road to Dharamsala

Well, my first week of travel is about to come to a close and to say that it has been crazy would be a bit of an understatement. Katherine and I left Seattle last Monday at 1:30pm and spent the next 22 hours flying halfway around the world to Delhi. We got into the Delhi airport at 1:00am and, after a harrowing taxi ride through the city, arrived in one piece at our guesthouse in Paharganj around 2:30am and immediately fell into a deep sleep. Our first day in Delhi was a blur of auto rickshaws, chai stalls, and searching, in vain, for a functioning ATM. After a quick lunch of daal and chapati, we packed up our stuff and wandered over to the metro station where we were catching the overnight bus to Dharamsala. Finding the spot took close to an hour, so it was a good thing that we left early.

The bus ride itself was a terrifying twelve hours of snaking up one-lane mountain roads in the pitch black, occasionally coming into contact with a taxi or auto rickshaw heading the opposite direction at breakneck speed. However, when the sun came up and we caught our first glimpse of the Himalaya in the early morning light, we knew that the ride would be worth it. We got into McLeodGanj early in the morning and immediately booked it to Jagatram Niwas, our guest house, which is located up the mountain from the main town in a small village called Heini. Our host, Bavinder, came to meet us at the Heena Cafe and guided us along the narrow path to our guest house. Along the way, we passed through terraced fields and narrow lanes between houses where goats and cows wander at times. The guest house itself has a gorgeous view over the surrounding valley and the Kangra Hills down below. After settling into our room, Katherine and I began to plan our next week of adventures here in Dharamsala. Among the highlights are the Kangra Fort, the Fire Temple, and the five hour hike to Triund & the snow line. I’ll write about these adventures in my next post.