NAHAN, India // There was no other way to do it. We were in Rishikesh and needed to get to Mcleodganj. On a map it doesn’t seem that far, but by car through the mountains of northern India it is said to take 12 - 15 hours. The other option was to fly, but we would have to backtrack to Delhi. We would have to spend the night there too, because there is only one flight to Dharmsala, the closest airport. We could also take a bus that only runs overnight and takes possibly 20 hours. No thank you. We opted in between to take a private car. This turned out to be the best option as we had 2 buddies / drivers, Ramesh and Raju, to essentially road trip with us. They were friendly and accommodative, and we had a chance to control bathroom breaks as well as stopping for chai tea every few hours. We got to see an amazing part of India that seemed incredibly different than Rajasthan, Rishikesh, or Agra. The cities in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh that we passed through; Nahan, Subathu, and Nangal, were all little towns built into the mountains. There were wildflowers all over the sides of the roads, local markets, schools, tea shops, cliffside driving for hours, and narrow alleys once we made it into these towns. Our hearts stopped a few times when we passed the countless cement trucks on the side of the mountains with no guard rails. The journey through India by train and car have been a highlight in itself.
We left Rishikesh at 6am and arrived in Mcleodganj at 7pm completely exhausted. We were astonished to find that Ramesh and Raju were going to get dinner then actually drive back to Rishikesh tonight! We were happy to go right to bed as we were on the brink of car sick and tired, due to the impossible ability to sleep during the bumpy ride. Our first impression of Mcleodganj was despite it being dark when we arrived, we actually saw other foreign tourists here, which put us at ease. It would turn out to be the city where we felt the safest in India during our month stay. The demographic here is probably half Indian and half Tibetan refugees. Needless to say it felt we were in a different country. This place is known as “little Lhasa / little Tibet.” Different city, different culture, different people. There are a lot of things to do here and Mcleodganj serves as our last stop in India. It is also located at 2600 meters of altitude which will help us acclimatize for our hike through Nepal in a few weeks.