Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Places to eat and shop around Mcleodganj, Dharamsala

A view of Mcleodganj from the Dalai Lama Temple
During our 5 days of stay in Mcleodganj, we visited different shops, ate at different cafes and stayed in two different guest houses. Let us talk about first the guest houses. We stayed at Chonor Guesthouse in our first two days. It is run and owned by the Norbulingka Institute. When we checked it online, the pictures of each room were amazingly beautiful. Unfortunately, the room we got did not live up to the hype we created ourselves. Although they had informed us beforehand that there is actually an ongoing renovation, I guess they forgot to inform us that even the room needed renovations. So we felt like the price we were paying was not worth the room we were staying. Our room that time was Lungka 2. In fairness, they offered to upgrade us but we already felt the disappointment so we just decided to move to another guesthouse, the Pema Thang, located 200 meters uphill from Chonor. Pema Thang Guesthouse was 35% cheaper than Chonor but the room we got gave us a great view of Dharamsala at any time of the night. If you decide to stay here, book for the rooms on the first and second level. The interior of the room was homey enough to make you feel relaxed but the toilet was a bit of a disappointment. But overall it was worth the price we paid.

There are many different coffee shops and restaurants that serves great coffees and teas, Italian Indian and Tibetan food as well as different baked goodies but I will just make this list of what is the best food I have tasted and best drinks I have had in many different cafes there:

Best Coffee:
Woesery Bakery - Handmade Cappuccino
Coffee Talk - Cafe Latte

Best Tea:
Cafe Tibet Cafe by Nick's Italian Kitchen - Lemon Honey Ginger Tea

Best Panini/Sandwich:
Woesery Bakery - Vegetarian Paninin in Tibetan Bread
Moonpeak Espresso - Chicken in Brownbread

Best Baked Goodies:
Moonpeak Espresso - Carrot Walnut Cake
Woesery Bakery - Walnut Tart

Best Omelette:
Moonpeak Espresso - Omelette 3 eggs and 3 cheese (Warning: 1 serving is big enoygh for 2 persons)

There is a hype about Italian food here but we did not really venture in to different pastas and pizzas available. We tried a couple but nothing really fantastic. I myself tried some vegetarian Tibetan noodles at the Hummingbird Cafe in Norbulingka Institute. I found it quite decent enough to pass for a meal.

For shops, we patronized mostly Tibetan products made by the Tibetans. There are many shops you can visit and support such as:

Norbulingka Shop - They have a wide range of products like stationery, bags, clothes, shawl and to quite expensive but worth it products like applique, thankas, wood carvings, dresses and buddha statues. They have 3 branches at Norbulingka Insitute, Chonor House and Temple Road near the Main square.

Students for a Free Tibet - They sell contemporary prints of Tibet t-shirts and jackets. One branch at Jogibara Road near the Tibetan Cooperative Shop.

Tibetan Cooperative Shop - They sell various handicrafts and Tibet souvenirs and hand made carpets. Jogibara Road near the post office.

LHA Tibet Fair Trade Shop - Selling various Tibetan dresses, rosaries and bags at Temple Road.

Rogpa Cafe and Shop - Selling various handmade crafts with a touch of modern and young Tibetan designs. Jogibara Road.

There are also various bookshop all over Mcleodganj. I have visited Bookworm at Bhagsu Road and Tibet World Books at Jogibara Road both owned and ran by Tibetans.

So just a reminder, despite the fact that Indians own these lands that the Tibetan exiles occupy, it is best to patronized shops owned and ran by these Tibetan exiles. They create products that have relevance to their culture. The culture that they lost when China invaded Tibet forcing most of Tibetans into exile. The products they make and sell help them to preserve the culture they inherited from their ancestors.



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