Punjab is in a heatwave… suffice it to say that we couldn’t deal with 45+ degree temperatures day and night!
We thus decided to head north into the hills of Dharamshala, or more precisely, the upper part of Dharamshala known as Mcleod Ganj. The more moderate temperatures here were a certain relief but the missus was perhaps expecting more than just the temperature to be more chilled. Despite the Buddhist and Tibetan influence Dharamsala is just as busy and hectic as an other Indian town not helped by the constant influx of foreigners (or ‘horror-ners’ as one local put it!) and Indians wanting to get away from the heat of Punjab and Delhi. In fact the central square of Mcleod Ganj is not dissimilar to Picaddily Circus on a Saturday night (see pic)! That said one can do some great walks up into the wilderness from here to escape the hustle and bustle and get a sense of the grandeur of the Himalayas.
WIth Mcleod Ganj being such a tourist hotspot there was also some fabulous shopping to be had here. Lots of kashmiris here selling Kashmiri exports such as Pashmina shawls, and very fine silk ware and so I got a bit carried away with all these pretty things and had to hang around to Monday to send back a (very nicely packaged) box of all the goods I purchased. One night we bumped into a Rajasthani gentlemen wandering the streets who had had no luck in flogging the fine silk miniature paintings he had brought in his backpack to the Kashmiri shopkeepers. He obviously saw a discerning eye in me and proceeded to empty the contents of his rucksack and hand me all his paintings one by one as i sat on a step overhanging an open sewer at 11 o’clock in the night with a torch in my hand examining the fine paintings he had on offer… only in India! Needless to say I was captivated by the fabulous handiwork and so bought several pieces to knock up my expenditure a bit more.
Having sent on our acquired goods we were ready to move on and we’ve now just arrived in Srinagar, Kashmir after an epic 32 hour journey consisting of 5 buses! Much cooler here and very lush and green so understandably another Indian tourist hotspot especially in this season. More to come on Kashmir soon…