Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mcleod Ganj - Dal Lake Hike

We decided to see how hiking at this altitude was by taking the short 4-km hike up to Dal Lake. We followed the signs out of Mcleod Ganj and found ourselves headed down hill. After a bit, we came upon something that looked distinctly like a Christian cemetery, and soon arrived at the Raj (British occupation era) Church of St. John in the Wilderness, which was locked when we were there, but the sign indicated that they still hold regular services in English and in Hindi. The feeling on the grounds, in the woods and at the high cool elevation, of having stumbled into England was intense and rather welcome.

From Drop Box

From Drop Box

Further along, we enjoyed some nice views of the valley that probably would have been spectacular on a clear day. There were also tons of rhododendrons, and a few other flowers. After a while, the road turned steeply uphill, and we were happy to take a break and stop at a Tibetan handy crafts showroom from a company recommended by Lonely Planet. It was a nice little fixed price shop with the lowest fixed prices we'd seen, so we decided to try to catch up on our souvenir shopping with bunches of brocade bags.

From 102_PANA

Just after the handy crafts showroom, we got to a fork in the road where the sign pointed to Mcleod Ganj to the right. Turns out that was the recommended route, which was level and more attractive overall, though lacked the English church and shopping opportunity. We took this route back, after returning from Dal Lake.

Anyhow, just a bit further up the hill was the Sacred Dal Lake, which probably would have been lovely if it had contained water. However, it was completely drained and there were a couple bulldozers on the lakebed digging it out. Basically, it was closed for renovations. We declined to do the additional walk up to the next town for views of the lake. The stream leading away from the lake still had some water in it (presumably diverted straight there from the lake input), and would perhaps have been aesthetically pleasing had it not been full of garbage. I think India is not the place to come for natural beauty. Have I mentioned their garbage problem? Oh, yeah, and even up here with the relatively low population, there is still a pretty significant raw sewage problem...

From Drop Box

Overall, it was a pretty disappointing outing that kind of turned us off the notion of hiking from Mcleod Ganj.

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