30 Oct 2020 – Kick off …
Have you thought about how to kick off your 2020. No matter how small or big – doing what’s important for you makes a big difference.
I have not yet made any plans for 2020. However, I had a long subconscious list of hikes and places I wanted to go in 2019. Almost at the end of 2019, the expereinces I have had are vibrating in my cells with happiness. My kick off retreat to India required some logistical planning but otherwise it all just happened in a beautiful spontanious flow.
I am amazed how things happen when we are open and just allow it to percolate in the subconscious.
When I started to write ‘the best of 2019 hiking inspiration’ the Indian part became so big that I decided to share it separately. Stay tuned! Some amazing Norwegian hiking inspiration is coming your way soon.
By deciding on the dates and taking that first step to book the ticket to India – the ball starts rolling. That’s what I did.
Do you have any destinations calling you right now? Or maybe you are longing for a quiet weekend at home?
I hope the following retreat to India will inspire your 2020 kick off – whatever that may be.
Himalayas in India – a grounding retreat
My travel adventures for 2019 kicked off with a six week Ayurveda journey. As a seasoned traveller to India this was my 7th time to McLeod Ganj; the home of His Holiness Dalai Lama. I stayed at an Ayurvedic clinic I know well in Bhagsu to hone my passion and knowledge for better lifestyle and mind, body, spirit wellness and balanse. This actually deserves a whole article in itself.
If you would like to get a sense of the surrounding villages of Dharamkot, Naddi and McLeod Ganj you can check out my blog. The Himalayan Vibes post shows a video I did on a stunning hike to Naddi.
McLeod Ganj, Bhagsu, Dharamkot and Naddi are all small villages at approximately 2, 082 meters altitude and within walking distance. They are quaint suburbs of Dharamsala. McLeod Ganj is the hub and referred to as ‘Little Lasa’ because of the large population of Tibetans. Despite a huge increase of tourists since my first visit in 2009, it’s a must place to visit in the Himalayas.
Hikes around the villages
For my entire stay I hiked every day to different places around the villages. Here are just some suggestions:
- Bhagsu to McLeod Ganj, takes about 20 minutes. Feel the vibes, and hang out in your favourite coffeshops or explore all the lovely shops.
- Explore the Dalai Lama Temple ground and watch hundreds of monks debating.
- Walk the Kora around His Holiness’ Temple Ground.
- Attend the Dalai Lama Teachings and feel the vibrations of thousands of people. Check the schedule and follow the procedures.
- Go down the steep hills from McLeod Ganj to Dharamsala city. Stop at the Illiterati Restaurant for a coffee or meal. Take a shared yeep back to McLeod Ganj at around sunset.
- Hike to Sunset Cafe from Bhagsu through Dharamkot Village. You can reach the start of the Triund trek in less than one hour. Make sure you enjoy the great views before you walk the last 5 – 10 minutes to the Sunset Cafe. If you continue onwards on the beautiful and narrow path you will get to a lovely waterfall. Make sure you allow enough time to get back before dark. Watch the Sunset video here.
- Naddi. Take a day and explore this wonderful place. Sunsets are beautiful.
- Bhagsu waterfall is another lovely short hike. You’ll find the trail by the swimming pool in Bhagsu. If you continue on the path you will get to the Shiva Cafe. It’s quite close but it took me many years to find it as you can’t see it from the waterfall.
- Hike around and you’ll find many hidden gems.
- Make sure you visit Tushita pierced in the hills of McLeod Ganj. This is a Buddhist meditation centre that offers great courses and free meditation sessions on weekdays. There are many other temples and meditation centres in the vasinity of Dharmasala.
- Indulge in a health retreat of your choice or enjoy a yoga, Ayurveda, massage, cocking or any other class of interest. There is plenty to choose from.
- Or simply, just explore nature and the culture and let things happen in a spontanious flow.
Triund trek to the top
Note:If you are in Dharamsala this is a must do hike.
- The best time for hiking is during spring or autumn.
- On average it takes up to 4 hours (9 km) to the top.
- For a day trip, make sure you leave early so you can return before dark. On my hike to Triund in 2009, I left Triund top late in the afternoon (around 4 p.m.). I was waiting for the thunder and hale to stop. However, it got dark on my way and the weather also suddenly changed for the worse. In hindsight it would have been a lot safer to stay overnight at the top.
- As the weather can suddenly change take a warm jacket and something for the head.
- If it’s sunny and warm make sure you have sunscreen, a hat and clothing to cover yourself. The sun is very strong.
- There are plenty of places to get drinks and snaks on the way. However if you go early the places on the way may not be open.
- If you have enough days, I highly recommend camping a night at the top and possibly hike to Snowline the next day. Or hike to Snowline on the first day and camp there or at Triund.
The snow stayed much longer in the mountains this year so the Triund trek opened late (at the end of April). Just in time before my return to Norway. I only had one day so my intention was to go to Triund top and return the same route.
It took me three hours to reach the top. I noticed that the path was much improved since 2009. It is an easy hike on the paved rocks and stairs that crawls into the steep hills. Nature and the stunning, scenic view along the way is beautiful and unforgettable. And perhaps like me, you will be mesmerised by the massive and colourful; red, purple and pink blooming rhododendrons. Not only that, it was fun to move through the snowy part too.
But even more magic awaits you at the top where you can enjoy cups of Indian chai tea and anything else you are craving. And they will make you a tasty omelette too. This is the time to breathe in and savour the awe inspiring snow clad mountains and vast view in all directions; whilst you decide if you will spend the day there, just relaxing or continue. Here is a video of what became a 12 hour hiking adventure.
Snowline – Extra energy bonus
Since I made it to the top so early, and the weather was perfect my gut feeling told me to continue to Snowline. The path was simply exhilarating. After one and a half hour I reached the snow. Spellbound, I headed straight for the Snowline Cafe, dug out of the snow. A Swedish man was just leaving. He had his own tent and was planning to camp.
Alone with the Indian chai master, I enjoyed the delicious milk tea with ginger. Suddenly, I could hear the laughs of the two monks and their Korean lady, English teacher, whom I had met in the morning on the path to Triund top. Immediately they included me and we played like little kids who had never seen the snow before. As you can see in the video above, we had a lot of fun.
It was getting late in the afternoon and we eagerly rushed off together. The day was full of surprising moments; share joyful delights. One of the monks was just as keen with the camera as myself. I was in heaven.
Afternoon return via the ridge to Bhagsu waterfall
After afternoon chai tea and snaks at Triund top we descended the other route back via the ridge. It made a full circle. With feelings of overwhelming gratitude I made the steep, ragged, long descent through a varied, green landscape.
The path was not as easy to find as the traditional route up, but there are some yellow arrows pointing the way. Be aware, it’s more strenious and longer, but definitely worth taking the different route back. Get a guide if you want to do it and feel unsure.
By taking too many photos, I almost lost the others many times. I wondered how the Tibetan monks could run so fast in their maroon robes. The clear view of the valley in all directions made my jaw drop. Occasionally I could hear myself gasping in disbelief.
Finally after a long descent, we relaxed at the Bhagsu waterfall by the Shiva Cafe in the hills of Bhagsu. Pleasantly exhausted we only had about 15 minutes before reaching Bhagsu where we parted. I went straight to Chilly Beans restaurant up the steep hill. Ahhhh … starting and feeling so grateful, it never feels better to sit down, even if it is in a plastic chair.
What an amazing end to my six week Himalayan journey. The next day I took the overnight bus to New Delhi.
Home in Norway
I woke up to snow on 1 st of May. I have yet to find a place with fresh, crisp air like Norway. It feels like a sharp knife that can cut through any illusions.
In my hometown, one of the first things I do is to hike to the local peak, called Borgafjellet. It’s an hour hike with splendid view over Bjørnefjorden and Norway’s third larges glacier (Folgefonna).
In hindsight, I had no idea that I was going to fulfill some of my top hiking destinations in Norway.
Let it percolate. Let it happen … tomorrow, in a week, a month or in a year – it doesn’t matter. Every day is an adventure!
PSIf you would like any other travel information or tips please let me know. I would also love to hear if you find this blog post helpful. You can make a comment below or contact me directly.