If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, visiting the Himalayan mountains in northern India is definitely a unique experience. Flights to Delhi are surprisingly cheap (especially in the off season), and then you can fly via a small propeller plane to the Kangra airport at the foot of the Himalayas.
My favorite town to stay in is McLeod Ganj, a cute little town with steep, narrow roads and plenty to do. This village is home to the Dalai Lama and many Tibetan expats, giving it a unique and vibrant cultural scene.
Visiting the Dalai Lama temple is a must, offering amazing views and a place for quiet contemplation. If you’re lucky, you could even see the Dalai Lama (provided he’s not on a world tour)!
The food in India is quite cheap, and McLeod Ganj also boasts a variety of incredible Tibetan dishes. My favorite restaurant would have to be Carpe Diem, although every restaurant that I tried in town was amazing (and trust me, I tried a lot)! Lodging here is also quite cheap and perfect for anyone traveling on a tight budget.
If the stunning mountain views from town aren’t enough, I highly recommend hiking right up into the Himalayas! Just follow the winding Triund Trail from the edge of town, taking in the panoramic views of villages far below. If you’re lucky, you could even see a troop of monkeys or a Tibetan herder with his flock of goats and sheep!
The trail ends on a mountain ridge with spectacular views of jagged, snow covered peaks. The trek can be done as a day hike, or you can rent a tent and sleeping bag and camp out on the mountain ridge. Although I enjoyed both experiences, I recommend spending the night if you have the time; watching the sun rise and set over the Himalayas was just magical!
Want to know more about the Himalayas? Click here to read an excerpt from my travel diary about my first trek in these majestic mountains!