Friday, 22 April 2011

Fear and loathing in McLo

For the past 7 years, I have been going to McLeodganj at least once a year, with the exception of 2009. Over the years, I have seen the place transform.

What earlier used to be a quiet tranquil town is now abuzz with activity. Whether that is good or bad is not for me to judge. But I do miss the sense of calm that used to be all pervasive, even in the main chowk. What used to be a small bus-seat adorned video hall where you could watch screening of movies like Eric Valli's Himalaya or Kundun, has now given way to swanky eateries catering to the domestic and international tourist market. The nearly empty  road, where while walking down, I befriended some of my oldest Tibetan friends , is now home to only shoppers. Small empty cafes where you could spend a whole day reading, is now full of just-arrived tourists.

Though all this makes perfect commercial sense, a part of me is anxious. I have seen it happen to Darjeeling, reached after it has already happened in Shimla, and see it happening in McLo.

Somewhere, in the hectic pace of being a tourist hot spot, the place loses it's soul..


  1. totally agree with you!!..
    Im glad i went to Mcleodganj when it was still in its tranquil phase..woudn't have the heart to venture there now...never wanted to visit shimla coz of the 'touristy' crowds(finally visited on a work trip!!)
    I guess one can't and shouldn't grudge the travelers for coming to a place or the locals for trying to make some money out of it....but there should be some sense of respect for the environment and the culture too!!
    that's why i love places like matheran and kasauli which have kept intact their individuality and uniqueness despite all the travelers coming there, infact thats the whole charm of these places

  2. This whole tourism thing is such a mix of a curse and blessing for the place involved...

  3. I too agree with what you are saying though I've never visited Mcleo but I get what u r saying. There are some places where I have felt the same emotion and anxiety. I too don't like 'touristy' places. I like places that stand their ground and don't let time or commercial value determine their worth.

    I would love to know from u what kind of reasonable and safe place to stay in at Mcleo when there is a kid in tow....and what is the best time.

  4. since you mention, a kid in tow, i would suggest you look up the bhagsu lodge [ or something like that, run by HPTDC]. it is supposedly a nice-ish place for i have heard, as i have only stayed in typical backpacker hotels.

    as for time, i believe the best time is between july-september.