Hidden Gems and Off Beat Treks in Dharamshala and McLeodGanj

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When you are at the Hobo Hostel or in that location in general, you get subjected to a superfluity of amazing experiences. Not only that, but the service at the hostel is also superlative and the warmth one feels by the hosting is beyond comparison. Most of the reason behind this extra care is mainly because the hosts are travellers themselves and know exactly what a fellow wanderer or traveller might need. Hence the services and the location have been fixed taking the utmost care of a traveller’s needs. Guests are always happy about the time they spend there and so was our experience. During our stay at the Hobo Hostel, all I could see was cheerful faces around. The very atmosphere of the location is filled with exuberance and being in the lap of nature and the Himalayas itself, the setting is just perfection to the limits. Time just went by in a whisker and we managed to have the best time and the extremes of fun in just 4 days and 3 nights; which according to me was very little to explore the beauty and absorb the vibes of this pristine and untouched location (will be going back soon).

Off Beat Treks in Dharamshala
Admiring the beauty of Dharamshala and McLeodGanj

We would humbly request anyone travelling to such places to be extremely responsible about how they dispose of plastic/glass waste so as to maintain the exquisiteness of the mountains. The best way is to Bring Your Waste Back (BYWB) and pick as much of the existing waste you possibly can. Carry a Bag. Dispose it properly. 🙂

Saif, my friend from childhood, and I went to the Hobo hostel after my office-trip to Delhi. Our memorable experience and adventures taught us a lot about the culture, the people, the beliefs, the conflicts and even that Google Maps can betray sometimes. However, the best learning we took back was about ourselves and our limits. The location is perfect for a variety of experiences and we made sure we did not miss the most important of them but the aspects of importance and their priority was only set according to our perspectives. And this blog post will tell you how we spent our time in the auspicious laps of the Himalayas and what all made the experience truly memorable.

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– Seated in the very Lap of the Himalayas…

We reached Dharamshala on a bus on November 17 and the view from the bus stand itself was enough to set our moods for the upcoming days of our stay. It was cold so we took our time to energize our muscles; had some tea and basked in the sun for quite some time while soaking in the vibes of the amazing winter atmosphere there. There is a short hike of stairs from beside the bus stand and the view from up there is even more tantalizing. The sweet wind that blows sometimes truly initiates a different kind of high.


After relaxing for some time, we called up Atit at the Hobo Hostel to enquire about their exact location. He was generous enough to offer a taxi ride (for a charge of Rs.250/-) but we decide to break our journey while interacting with the locals and travelling as locals do. Atit is a kind gentleman and he even gave us directions on how to reach the hostel like locals. The hostel is pretty famous amongst the native folk and if not the one surely knows how to reach the Aghanjar Mahadev Temple and Hobo is like 200 meters from there. We took a bus for Palampur but got down at the Sidhbari junction on the way (Rs. 10/- per person). From there a shared taxi (Rs. 15-20/- per person, depending on the season) dropped us at Aghanjar Mahadev and we walked the rest of the distance. We reached Hobo and Gagan (one of the founding members along with Atit who are also certified trekkers and tour operators; and even locals of Himachal) greeted and received us at the reception. He showed us to our room and to our surprise they had upgraded it to the private room at it felt so nice, to be honest. Then we thought to answer the cries of our tummies so we ordered some local food and we instantly fell in love with the place. The food there is so delectable that I kept eating even after my tummy got full. After that, while Saif took a short restful nap on the warm and super cozy bed, I went to talk to the hosts to gain more insight. Kaya (an Austrian lady who has been working there as a core team member and manager for some time) entertained my silly queries while showing me around the place and got me acquainted with their rules and policies. That is when I came to know about the Bike Rental service there and instantly booked it for the next day knowing how much Saif loves to drive and anticipating how more and more he would fall in love with riding when he does that in the Himalayas

While Kaya showed me around, I saw this beautiful view from the balcony and this is basically Hobo’s backyard. A walk downhill through the deodar trees and one can soak their feet in chilling river water coming straight from the mountains. I had to check it out and I did, spending some considerable time taking pictures and picking up pine cones (more so because I am fascinated about the pineal gland and in general, the design of the pine cone; the golden spiral/ratio or the blueprint of nature). The view from down there is also mesmerizing. After exploring the backyard I came back to the hostel and woke Saif up. We had hot coffee and some Maggi while listening to music and chatting with the hosts. Late on that night we all gathered near the bonfire and had a gala time together while having interesting and trivial conversations under the starry sky. That night was so clear that one could even observe the Milky Way along with all the constellations one can possibly name. By 11 PM we had our yummy dinner, confirmed on our bike rental booking and went off to sleep.

? The Hobo Hostel – Experience Difference

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– Temple and Waterfall…

We hopped on our bike (least of formalities required) after a wholesome brunch and headed straight to the petrol pump. After filling the tank we decided to visit Bhagsunag. Before leaving the hostel we had taken a rough idea from Gagan and Atit about all the places we could touch before nightfall. So we reached Bhagsunag in about 35 minutes and Saif was literally having the time of his life riding on those tricky roads. I have complete trust in his driving skills, more than I have on mine and hence he did most of the driving while I was happy documenting our journey and experience. The temple has its own parking and the waterfall is after a trail behind it. Just like any other Shiva Temple in the mountains, this temple as well is charged with profound energy. After paying our respect there we headed for the hike leading to the waterfall. It can be a little tiring since it has mostly stairs. However, the experience and views throughout the hike makes it all worth it indeed. There are a lot of other small and narrow trails (made of flat slate stones) emerging from the hills nearby. We explored all we could have in a couple of hours and decided to go check out McLeodganj next. There are a lot of stalls and cafés even near the waterfall so snacking is never an issue as long as the travellers are responsible about disposing of the waste they are producing and keeping a minimum carbo footprint helping to preserve the beauty of such pristine and naturally stupendous locations.

We even found some perfect picturesque spots, impeccable for taking pictures and making videos; especially silhouette shots.

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– A major tourist spot…

As a traveller and nature lover, I personally did not find McLeodganj to be of much bewilderment except for a few beautiful monasteries that are still upholding the raw culture of the native land. The place has been commercialized almost to the core and the activities and crowd there is very touristy and has flashy aspects to it. Even in the off-season, we were finding it difficult to manoeuvre through the main market; such was the crowd and commotion. We even got stuck in a bottleneck situation cause some roads there have been made one way to handle the crowd. The shops are good for local souvenirs and apparel but I would not recommend anyone to spend the night there. It is okay for a visit but I would suggest that you try to stay at some abode like the Hobo Hostel; close to nature and its sounds, waking up in the very lap of the mountains. McLeodganj would be a safe option for foodies as there are a variety of restaurants in the market.

McLeodganj – from Dharamkot !!


– Evolving into another commercialized hill station…

The uphill ride till Dharamkot is an exciting one. Though the hill station in itself does not have much to offer apart from cafés and fancy hotels its placement along the slopes of a mountain make it a beautiful winter destination. The place even has a Yoga and Meditation Ashram where participants from all over the world migrate throughout the year. Being at a higher elevation, it was really cold and the sun had already set. So we decided to warm our freezing blood and at a café to have some steaming hot coffee with sandwiches. Saif was recollecting his biking experience and then I went and took a few night shots of the hill station and also of Dharamshala at a distance. Then while our ride down in the dark, Google Maps decided to betray us and lead us to a narrow road which ended in stairs. With no place to turn the bike and the path being a front slope, the only way out was to lift the bike (a Royal Enfield Classic). Luckily a local came out of his residence asking if we followed Google Maps and stating that we were not the first ones to get stuck there. With his help we were able to get out of that situation. Then we rode back to the main highway while asking a few people and following our instincts. Since we were getting late, the hosts of Hobo were kind enough to call us and ask if we were doing okay and if we would like to order some food for dinner (as the kitchen closes by 9:30 PM). We placed our order on call and just when we reached the hostel and freshened up, our food was served hot.

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The Offbeat Trek

– Not all those who wander are lost…

The location at which the Hobo Hostel is seated is more like an explorer’s heaven and haven as well as a wondrous delight to the wanderers and travellers out there. Especially to the trekking and hiking kind, who love the adrenaline rushes and overnight cave stays or camping in a tent near pools of crystal clear water. Anyone visiting this place should definitely go for an offbeat hike or at least book the overnight cave stay and trekking experience that the hostel has to offer. It will sure give you a benign taste of what the Himalayan laps have to offer. As trekking enthusiasts, we did not want to lose the opportunity to resonate with the vibes of that pristine location. Just behind the Hobo Hostel, a left turn uphill from the Zero-Point confectionary store, and an hour walk towards the snow-capped mountains along the streamlined river, lays a plethora of trails leading into the mountains. We decided to go as far as time would permit us and return by evening or at least nightfall.

The view from the river in a deep gorge…

Venturing into the wilderness and unknown lands all by ourselves, we took the road on top of this huge and vertical waterfall and then treaded downhill trough a trail we made beside it and came back following the river along the crest of the gorge soaking the vibes of the valley and taking a dip in one of the enchanted pools filled with water with a refractive index of one and so clear that one can effortlessly see the rock bottom or the bed.

This video glorifies our adventurous descent down the steep slope along the waterfall. One dip in the mountain water of the enchanted pools and all our exertion and tiredness was gone with the next gush of the sweet mountain wind. The water literally relaxed our muscles and we ended up spending an hour just basking in the sun and enjoying the vibes of that surreal location. We knew that was our only chance to experience and feel the true beauty of nature, especially the Himalayas, before hitting the mundane city life, inhaling smoke and looking at the watch and the traffic lights.

While returning, we could not stop looking back on the trail… The entire journey was remarkable and unforgettable indeed…

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