Why Dharamsala must to be in your Destination list this Summer

So the Indian Summer is approaching. It’s going to be hot, and days will be long. Fleeing from the scorching heat along with school holidays make these few months the most awaited escape time for northern Indians. Thankfully, the options are plenty. Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand furnish a wide assortment of choices for us all, irrespective of our palates and penchants. Dharamsala, lovingly labeled as the Mini Lhasa, is a small hamlet with every potential.

Whether it’s a fun family vacation, a romantic getaway or simply an escape from your corporate existence, the laid-back little town of offers a world of possibilities for every traveller. Read on, to find why Dharamsala must be in the destination list this summer. Bringing a few rare pursuits that only Dharamsala can bestow.

Tea Gardens Picnic amidst the Clouds

dharamsala tea garden
Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the cleanly manicured tea gardens dotted with silvery oaks on the way to Kunal Pathri Temple. Breathe in the delicious aroma of fresh tea and set up your little corner amidst the picturesque gardens. Pack your picnic basket in advance, you’ll regret if you don’t plan a picnic here in your itinerary.
Remember to pick up some fresh Kangra tea, Oolong and Jasmine Tea to take home with you.

Whoop it up at the Bhagsu Waterfalls

Bhagsu Waterfall McLeod-Ganj
Nestled in a valley covered in pristine forests, strewn rocks and fluttering prayer flags. The Bhagsu waterfall cascades into a plunge pool where you can, frolic in the cool mountain water, after a visit to the medieval Bhagsu Shiva Temple. Or you can simply munch on some deliciously steamed Tingmo (Tibetan bread), while your feet skim the water!

Rewind your youth in the Shiva Cafe

shiva cafe dharamsala
What works best after a long seemingly tiring trail than a place like a Cafe to unwind? Coming from the Bhagsu waterfall, settle yourself at the Shiva Cafe. Let the cafe’s laidback atmosphere and magnificent location work its magic on you. Let the cool rustic look adorned by hand made paints of Bob Marley, Shiva and Buddha take you to a different level of amusement. Have a cup of coffee, read some books, spend time with fellow strangers, visit locals. Asking for more?

 

Norbulingka Institute – be part of the Tibetan revolution

norbulingka institute dharamsala
Watch local artisans work on woodcarving, metal statue making, thangka painting and embroidery at the Institute before wandering through the lushly canopied gardens. Gape at the gilded Sakyamuni statue and the beautiful hand crafted puppet dioramas at the unique Losel Doll Museum, before picking up some traditional Tibetan chubas at the souvenir shop.
Engage yourself in live demonstration, hands-on workshops, theaters, Tibetan culture, Dalai Lama handprints. Gurgling streams run through immaculately maintained Japanese styled gardens, while birds of all different species can be seen flittering among the treetops. The architecture, built in traditional Tibetan style gives a feeling of returning to old Tibet. Truly a place to experience Tibet while in India.

Experience History at the Kangra Fort

kangra fort
Considered as one of the most beautiful forts in India, this fort was built by the Royal Rajput family of the state of Kangra in the 15th Century. Adjoining the Fort is the Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch Museum run by the Royal Family of Kangra.Take an excursion to the fort, and experience the history and rich tradition.

Try your hands in Tibetan Cuisine at Sangyes Kitchen

sangyes kitchen mcleodganj
Learn the art of Tibetan cuisine from a friendly Tibetan chef at Llhamo’s Kitchen – Tibetan treats, focusing on momos, including chocolate momos! Sangye claims “Use only your fingertips to mix and to make, no need to mess up your entire hand”.

The place’s motto “Ask me anything about Tibet, let’s enjoy conversation” really works. Rarely any tibetan dish you could find that is not available here, or you cannot learn to cook!

The Church in the Wilderness

st johns church dharamsala
Dating back to the colonial era, St Johns Church is a beautiful gothic church set amidst verdant deodar forests threaded with the golden sun rays. The church with its greying stone walls, beautiful Belgian stained glass windows and dreamy surroundings, is the perfect place to spend some quiet leisurely moments.

Stroll with Lamas in the Mcleodganj market

mcloedganj market
A truly global village, Mcleodganj’s streets bustle with an interesting fusion of people, from red-robed monks and modern hippies to globetrotting tourists. Bargain for snuggly woollens, silver trinkets, statuettes and Tibetan uniques like thangkas, meditation bowls, prayer wheels and yak cheese at the main market. Don’t miss to pick up some unusual finds at Nowrojee’s.

 

And there you go.
For the adrenaline pump geeks, we have few excitements in store!

Reach to the sky at Indrunag

paragliding in indrunag
Feel the pumping in your veins and the wind gurgling in your ears as you paraglide amidst the snow-clad peaks of Dhauladhar at Indrunag, treating your senses to a glorious bird’s eye view of Dharamshala. For those who want more, there is free rock climbing at the Dharamshala – Nayagroeon trail too.

Tranquility at Triund

Triund Trek
For the secret trekker and hiker inside you. Feel the crisp mountain air swirl around you as you trek on sun kissed forest trails towards the Triund Peak for panoramic views of the majestic Dhauladhar range and the vast valley of Kangra. Savour the piping hot tea and steaming maggi served by the tiny makeshift shops on the way.
The trek is easy enough for beginners and the views are definitely worth all the huffing and puffing.

Indian Food Facts & Origins

Food is our common ground, a universal experienceJames Andrew Beard, an American cookbook author who had mentored generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts

Everyone loves food, in some form or the other. Not only is it a basic necessity in life but it is something that can bind people together. Also food is something that is invented, reinvented and shared throughout history and throughout the world.

Indian cuisine is unique and different from rest of the world not only in taste but also in cooking methods and ingredients. India is famous and quite unique for its diverse multi cuisine which symbolizes or is suggestive of the unity in diversity of our country. Cuisine of India has been greatly influenced by the Indian history, various civilizations prevalent in India from time immemorial, religious and cultural choices and traditions and has contributed to the development of a unique set of dishes using diverse ingredients for each region. Each state in India exhibits a different cuisine depending on the diversity in soil type, climatic condition, culture, traditions, ethnic groups, occupation, geographical locations and economics. Indian cuisine is also greatly influenced by locally available spices, herbs, vegetables, fruits, sea food, cereals and food grains etc.

Historical incidents such as foreign invasions, trade relations and colonialism have played a major role in introducing certain ingredients and food to our country.

Here are some interesting facts about Indian cuisine that we Indians may or may not be aware of.

Indian food system classifies food into three main categories

indian food classification

  • Saatvic food – includes fresh fruits, vegetables and juices, leads us to higher states of consciousness.
  • Raajsic food – includes oily and spicy food, is said to be the foundation of activity and motion.
  • Taamsic food – includes meat and liquor, this brings out the negative feelings.

Indian food is said to be based on six kinds of tastes (rasas)

6 tastes

  • Sweet (madhura)
  • Salty (lavana)
  • Sour (amala)
  • Pungent (katu)
  • Bitter (tikta)
  • Astringent (kasya)

A proper Indian meal is a perfect balance of all six flavors, with one or two of them predominating. So next time we have a meal, we can easily identify which flavor is standing out.

Mithais or sweets are important part of Indian cuisine and celebrations.Sweets signify prosperity, happiness and affection. It is believed that any meal in India is incomplete without any sweet. Payasam, one of the favorite sweet dishes in South India is a must in important ceremonies. Payasam is also an important ritualistic offering in South Indian temples.

India is rightly called the Land of Spices

No country in the world produces as many varieties of spices as India. Every single spice used in Indian dishes has some or the other nutritional as well as some medicinal values or properties.
indian spices

Pepper is known as the king of spices as it goes well with any and everything.

The three forms of Indian spices are fresh spices, whole dried spices and roasted or ground spices.

Spices give very distinctive and different tastes when fried and when boiled.

For example Wazwan, a traditional Kashmiri multi-course meal reflects strong Central Asian influence. The unique thing about this technique is that the spices are boiled instead of fried to give a distinct flavor and aroma.

India is also home to bhoot jolokia or ghost chilli, also known as U-morok, ghost pepper, red naga, naga jolokia; which is grown in North Eastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. They are considered to be the hottest chillies in the world. They are more than 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

Global Influences & Imprints

Portuguese

Staple ingredients of Indian cuisine like Potato, Tomato and Chilli were brought to India by the Portuguese around the 16th and 17th centuries. It is believed that the Portuguese introduced over 300 new plants to India.

Even refined sugar was introduced to India by the Portuguese. Before that fruits and honey were used to sweeten Indian food. Other plants brought to India by the Portuguese are tobacco, pineapple, papaya, guava, cashewnut etc just to name a few.

Mexico

Rajma originally belongs to Mexico and is a staple food there.

Asian Region

  • Naan is also said to have been brought to India by the Mughals and it has Central and South Asian roots.
  • Jalebi was called Zabiya( Arabic) or the Zalibia( Persian), Zulbia and is popular sweet in countries of South Asia , West Asia, North Africa and East Africa.
  • Gulab Jamun originated are in Persia and the Mediterranean , where its equivalent, Luqmat al Qadi, much before they came to India.
  • The Samosa is claimed to have originated in the Middle East, where it is known as the Sambosa prior to the 10th century. It was introduced to the Indian subcontinent in the 13th or 14th century by traders from Central Asia.
  • Daal Chawal or Daal Bhaat is actually said to have originated in Nepal.
  • Coffee was brought to India by a Muslim saint Baba Budan , while on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Baba Budan smuggled seven coffee beans ( by tying it around his waist) from Yemen to Mysore and planted them on the Chandagiri Hills. This was the beginning of coffee industry in India.
  • India produces unbelievable variants of rice ranging from white, red, brown, sticky and even black. Black rice is found only in India and China and is also known as forbidden or magic rice.
  • Earliest evidence of outline of modern Indian food goes back to 3000 years ago, when we find evidences of charred remains of grains and husk impressions in Lothal , Gujarat.