CombatCritic QandA: (McLeod Ganj, H.P, India) Are there places to stay with kitchenettes?


Q:

las habitaciones tienen kitchenette? (Are there places to stay with kitchenettes?)
CLAUDIAGESELL  
villa gesell

A:
 
There are apartments with kitchens/kitchenettes available, but you’re going to have to look once you get there. Stay in a hotel for a day or two and ask locals. You’ll find something fairly quickly at a low price if you like. Gandhi House (below Pink House) has rooms with kitchenettes, but may require a long-term stay (one month or more. Ask the staff at Mountain Lion Cafe, they may know.  Tell them CombatCritic sent you.  Hope this helps!
 

Title:  McLeod Ganj, H.P, India: Are there places to stay with kitchenettes?

Key Words: McLeod Ganj, mcleod, ganj, kitchenette, kitchen, hotel, apartment, dharmasala, dharamshala, India, travel, doubts, concern, question, answer, CombatCritic. TravelValue, travel, value
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CombatCritic QandA: McLeod Ganj, India) Solo Female Has Doubts And Questions About Travel


Q:

Hey there,
 
Want to visit Mcloedganj and Dharamshala solo. i have some doubts.
 
1. which place is more appropriate to stay ? Mcleodganj and Dharamshala ?
 
2. Does your hotel provide taxi or cab facility to roam around the city or to go tourist attractions.
 
3. Is it safe to travel alone?
 
4. Any other thing i need to cautious about ?
 
Thanks.
 
Nehadixit, New Delhi, India

A:

Dear Nehadixit,
 
Want to visit Mcloedganj and Dharamshala solo … have no doubts!
 
1. which place is more appropriate to stay ? Mcleodganj and Dharamshala ?
 
Dharamsala has little to offer. McLeod Ganj is where all the action is … the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people, monasteries, yoga, meditation, NGOs, restaurants, hiking/trekking, clean air, beautiful scenery
 
2. Does your hotel provide taxi or cab facility to roam around the city or to go tourist attractions.
 
You don’t need a cab unless you want to travel outside of town. Everything is within walking distance of McLeod Ganj … Bhagsu Village, St Johns, Dharamkot, the Library of Tibetan Works and Archive, etc … or a short, cheap bus ride away
 
3. Is it safe to travel alone?
 
McLeod Ganj is extremely safe for men and women, being inhabited by Tibetans primarily. Partly because of their Buddhist beliefs, they are very compassionate, peaceful, and kind people.
 
4. Any other thing i need to cautious about ?
 
Not really, but pick a hotel wisely. There are many to choose from, ranging from 200 to 3,000+ rupees per night depending on your tastes. The Tse Chok Ling Monastery sits on a hill overlooking the valley, is extremely peaceful, and a great value at 600 rupees per night. You can read reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions on my blog and watch videos orienting you to McLeod Ganj on my YouTube channel, so feel free to contact me for details.
 
Good luck!
 
CombatCritic

Key Words: McLeod Ganj, mcleod, ganj, dharmasala, dharamshala, India, travel, doubts, concern, question, answer, CombatCritic. TravelValue, travel, value

Hut One, Hut Two … Crepe Pancake Hut … YUM!


Hut One, Hut Two … Crepe Pancake Hut … YUM!

Crepe Pancake Hut

Jogiwara Road (Next to Tibet World)
McLeodGanj, Dharamsala, India
Prices: $$$$$

I walked by Crepe Pancake Hut probably 70 to 80 times before stopping in. Neither crepes nor pancakes, particularly vegetarian ones, sounded good prior, but I wanted to give them a try before leaving. I am sorry I waited so long!

Like most restaurants in McLeod Ganj, especially the ones with Eastern-style (sit on the floor) seating, this place was filled to the brim with young, Bohemian, hippie-wannabes. If you have traveled in India recently, you know the type … long, filthy, unwashed dreadlocks, pajamas, nose stuck in their phone or computer and unable to carry on a conversation with anybody over 20 even if their life depended on it.

Anyway, enough of my judgmental attitude (I really am working on it and learned a bit more through Buddhist philosophy classes, but it is obviously a work in progress) and on to the food. 

I ordered a Veggie Burrito with Avocado Pico di Gallo (90 rupees – $1.45) and a pot of lemon ginger honey (50 rupees). The burrito was crispy and tasty, filled with sauteed bell peppers (capsium) and onions, kidney beans, and accompanied by half an avocado peel filled with a combination of mashed avocado, diced tomato and onion, and a bit of sour cream (or yogurt, I could not tell which).

The pot of ginger lemon honey was delicious and one of the cheapest in town at 50 rupees, filling my cup four times at 12.5 rupees (20 cents) a pop. In all, it was a light, healthy, yet filling lunch at an extremely reasonable price.

CombatCritic Gives Crepe Pancake Hut 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Great!




Menu



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Lung Ta … KOWABUNGA!


Lung Ta … KOWABUNGA!

Lung Ta 
(Japanese/Vegetarian)
Jogiwara Road
McLeodGanj, Dharamsala, H.P. India 167219

A ridiculously cheap vegetarian Japanese restaurant next to my hotel. I stopped by for an herbal tea to wait for my friend, but decided to try the Potato Croquettes with Salad – 80 Rupees ($1.30). They were great!

The tea was 20 rupees (32 cents), bringing the total to a whopping 100 rupees ($1.62), likely the best value in McLeod Ganj or India for that matter!

CombatCritic Gives Lung Ta 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Great!


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One Two, Buckle My "Brew"


One Two Café
Temple Road (Across from Dalai Lama Temple)
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, HP, India 
Prices: $$$$$

I have to admit that I have not ordered a full meal here because it appears that is not their forté. The first time I visited One Two Café was for a quick bite to eat and a coffee while waiting for my Buddhist philosophy class upstairs. While enjoying my caffe latte and spinach quiche (more to follow), a friend of an employee brought in a meal (that looked like thenthuk) from another restaurant. Not a good sign, particularly considering that they have thenthuk on the menu.

However, my spinach quiche was quite large for the price (100 rupees/$1.60) and very good although the crust was a bit difficult to cut through and the filling not all that rich, both likely due to a lack of egg and cheese in the recipe. Still, it was very enjoyable and savory.


I have returned for their caffe latte, made from espresso on an Italian espresso machine, which is very well done and an outstanding value at 60 rupees (95 cents) for a regular and 90 rupees ($1.50) for a doppio (large).


If you want an excellent coffee, tea, or light snack while visiting the Dalai Lama’s Temple, then One Two Cafe is an excellent choice.

CombatCritic Gives One Two Café 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

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Woeser Bakery Lives Up To The Hype … Scrummy Pastries, Good Coffee, Excellent Service


Woeser Bakery

Jogiwara Road – Below Black Magic Restaurant- 

McLeod GanjDharamsala 176219India

Prices: $$$$$
Woeser Bakery is not easy to find as it sits down the stairs in the basement under Black Magic (restaurant, bar, and disco) on Jogiwara Road (“market” area) in McLeod Ganj and just south of the large Buddhist temple (stupa). The sign is easy to miss, so look for Black Magic on the east side of the road and the staircase down to the basement.

Small is an understatement, with just two tables and three barstools, 11 patrons and two employees can cram into the tiny space no bigger than a bedroom. The owner and pastry chef busily prepares her sweet delights as patrons come and go. There are a selection of 17 or so pastries, coffees, teas, and assorted cold drinks available in addition to a small menu of breakfast and lunch items (eggs, cereal, bread, and one sandwich).

Chocolate Crisp
I had a Chocolate Crisp (40 rupees/65 cents) and a Café Latte (70 rupees/$1.10) on my first visit. The chocolate crisp was crispy as advertised with chocolate covered corn flakes decadently shaped into a ball half the size of a billiard ball. It was rich and flavorful. The café latte was made from a French press and served in s large cup with a foamy milk topping and a swirl of chocolate. The coffee was not as strong as an espresso-based drink, but was very good and an excellent value. I even got the remaining coffee from the French press to top off my latte!

Panino
I can see why Woeser Bakery is THE top choice on TripAdvisor in McLeod Ganj and only wish that they remained open later than 7pm, had a few more savory options, AND A LITTLE HEAT on a chilly late-Autumn day.


CombatCritic Gives Woeser Bakery An Initial 9 Bombs Out Of 10 and a promise to return again … MORE BOMBS ARE BETTER!




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Dal Lake? More Like A Big, Dirty Pond!


Dal Lake
Adjacent To Upper TCV Complex
Dharamsala Bus Road
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, H.P. India

When I first heard about Dal Lake, I pictured a “sacred” and serene mountain lake as advertized. But when I arrived, what I saw was a large pond contained by concrete, so murky that you cannot see the bottom through six inches of water. 

There are a couple of small “cafés” (shacks that sell instant coffee and tea), but you probably do not want to spend more than a few minutes here. The auto-rickshaw (chuk-chuk) ride from McLeod Ganj Main Square is 90 rupees ($1.45) each way, so I recommend saving your $3 and having a nice lunch instead.

The only reason I gave Dal Lake 2 Bombs (and not 1) is because of the lovely mountain setting, but you can experience that anywhere in the area without spending another 180 rupees.


CombatCritic Gives Dal (Pond) Lake 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!



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Stairway To Heaven … NOT!


Pink House Hotel
Jogiwara Road – Below and Across From Yongling School
McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, H.P., India
Prices: $$$$$

Balcony View – Room 204

Javid, the owner of Pink House, was very helpful and friendly, answering questions about my reservation and upcoming visit to Dharamsala. He arranged for a ride from the airport in Gogol for 700 rupees ($11.35) upon arrival, which I thought was a decent price by US standards for a 10-mile taxi ride. Considering that the taxi from my hotel in Delhi (where everything is more expensive than in Dharamsala) to the airport was just 400 rupees ($6.50 for a 13-mile journey), it turned out not to be such a great deal after all. The driver dropped me on the street and pointed to some extremely long, very steep, dangerous looking stairs in varying degrees of disrepair (note to self #1 … is this the only access point?”) and said “look for the sign”.

Second Floor Room (Corner – Room 204)
The hotel is nice enough, not swank and not a dive, with many rooms having balconies and views of the foothills and Himalayas. Javid was updating many of the rooms during my stay, making them more comfortable, but also causing noise problems and clutter while the repairs were being made. The rooms have differing views depending on which direction you are facing and which floor you are on (1st floor rooms have poor views), but all have cable TVs (old CRTs), balconies, large beds, cabinet (no closet or wardrobe), bath with western-style toilet, sink, and a shower with no enclosure (your bathroom is your shower in India), but no heating system in sight (note to self #2 … “it seems awful chilly in here”). There is also Wi-Fi throughout the hotel (note to self #3 … “I hope the Wi-Fi isn’t as slow as it was in Delhi!”), with a router on each floor, so the signal is strong everywhere … WOO-HOO!
Balcony
The first few days I had breakfast at the “rooftop café”, which is just barely that, a roof with a couple plastic tables and chairs, no roof, no cover, and no heat on cold November mornings. Still recovering from jet lag, I was up early each morning watching the gorgeous sunrises and noticed that the servers first arrived to take orders at varying hours, sometimes 7:30 am, other times well after 8:00 am (note to self #4 … “I wonder what time they start serving breakfast?”). The Tibetan bread, which became my morning staple, with locally made peanut butter (70 rupees/$1.15) was tasty and a pot of milk coffee (warm milk with varying degrees of instant coffee added) set me back another 80 rupees/$1.30, so $2.50 seemed fair enough (note to self #5) for a decent, not great breakfast.

Steps – View From Street (Top)
I quickly became exhausted by and very concerned (see note to self #1) about the hundreds of stairs from Pink House up to Jogiwara Road. Being a disabled Veteran with very bad knees and back, the stairs, which are extremely dangerous by day and treacherous by night (very little light), vary widely in height, have loose or missing rocks and bricks (many steps are crumbling), and many are constantly soaked with the water escaping from the numerous pipes crisscrossing the steps (another tripping hazard). I stumbled on several occasions due to varying heights and uneven surfaces, twisting my knee on one occasion and nearly tumbling head over heel down the steep incline on a few others. Having made a commitment to stay long-term (I was visiting for 7 weeks and received a small discount on my room), I decided to stick it out until I felt my health or life was in danger.
Pink House staff are very friendly and helpful most of the time. Rooms can be cleaned if you make the journey to floor number 4 to drop off your key in the morning and inexpensive laundry services are also available ($1.00 to $2.50 for a few shirts, pants, socks, and undies), dropping items off (again on the 4th floor) in the morning and picking them up the same evening.
Steps – View From Bottom
Being November and at an altitude of over 5,750 feet (1,750 meters), days were very comfortable when in the sun (plentiful this time of year) and a bit chilly in the shade, but nights dipped into the 30s and 40s and the rooms quickly became very cold (see note to self #2). In-fact, I had not seen a heater anywhere in India since my arrival, including restaurants, other businesses, and hotels, which may not have been an issue in Delhi, but made for some mildly uncomfortable experiences in the mountains. After a nearly two weeks of freezing my bum off in the middle of the night when I had to use the toilet (loo) and in the morning, I asked about the possibility of getting a heater in my room, but was told “you have two blankets don’t you?”. I decided to suffer a little rather than make an issue out of it because the steps were making it likely I would not be there much longer anyway.

The Wi-Fi signals were great due to the routers on each floor, but unfortunately the internet was extremely slow (note to self #3). Being an avid blogger, TripAdvisor “Top Contributor”, and wanting to upload reviews and photos, as well as keep in contact with my family and friends via Skype and Facetime, the Wi-Fi was woefully inadequate. Beside the numerous and frequent power outages in McLeod Ganj which resulted in no Wi-Fi (or TV), the Wi-Fi quickly became an issue due to the inordinate amount of time it took to do anything and the frustration caused by Skype and Facetime calls home where I could only hear every fifth word being said.

Again, after the first few days, I decided to move indoors to the “relative” warmth of my room for breakfast, not knowing when the servers would arrive on the roof each morning (note to self #4). I asked when breakfast was available each morning and was told 7:30 am, but I found that the staff in general do not seem to awake early because when I called at 7:30 sharp each morning I either spoke to someone who had obviously been awakened by my call (staff sleep in the reception office, which is not on the ground floor, but on the 4th floor next to the rooftop café) or someone else who barely spoke English. Most of the time, my breakfast arrived within 15 minutes and the young men delivering it were friendly and helpful. However, on a few occasions my order did not arrive after 45 minutes to an hour, causing frustration and late arrival to my 9:00 am (not including the nearly 30 minute walk UP THE HUNDREDS OF STEPS and down Jogiwara Road from McLeod Ganj) Buddhist Philosophy class at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archive. I also inquired about an early breakfast during the Dalai Lama’s teachings (November 11-13 2014 – 8am – 12pm daily with arrival NLT 7:30am), but was told “the kitchen opens at 7:30am” … maybe), so I ordered my breakfast the night before and drank cold coffee and ate stale Tibetan bread for three days. After 20 years in the Air Force, I have experienced worse conditions.
I never ate anything at Pink House other than breakfast because I avoided navigating the dreaded steps except for a trip up each morning and one down each night. The menu was extensive and from what I saw the food looked pretty good, but the value is questionable based on my breakfast costs and comparable meals in town. Having paid $2.50 for a small pot of weak coffee, a piece of local bread that can be purchased for 10 rupees (16 cents) in town, and a tablespoon of peanut butter, in comparison to the wonderful $3.00 dinners I regularly ate, the food did not seem like such a great value after all.
After 3 weeks, I had enough of the treacherous stairs, painful knees, and risk to my existence on Earth, the widely varying and undependable breakfast hours (they probably got tired of me waking them up every morning at 7:30), and the very slow Wi-Fi, so I decided to find a place closer to the road, the Tibetan Library, town, and my yoga instructor … mostly the deadly stairs … finding a comparable room and view at less than half of the price (333 rupees per night or $5.35), being centrally located between destinations WITH NO STEPS!
At first glance and in terms of western standards and prices, Pink House appears to be an exceptional value at $10-$20 per night, but comparatively speaking in McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala, that did not necessarily turn out to be the case. The longer I stayed in the area and the more people I spoke to, the more I realized that Pink House was one of the more expensive and isolated places in town. A Buddhist monk friend paid 2,00o rupees per month ($32.00) for his centrally located room, a basic but clean room with shared bath, and another was paying 300 rupees ($4.85) per night for a double room at a monastery just off the main market with a private bath, so $15 per night was quite expensive in this neck of the woods.
Like Jessica1100 (TripAdvisor), my 880 rupee ($14) deposit was not applied to my bill at check-out even though it was meticulously itemized down to the rupee, taking close to 20 minutes even though I told them I would be checking out that morning. I am not saying that it was done intentionally, but considering that they do not accept reservations without a deposit equaling one night’s stay, it should be a standard inclusion in the billing process.
If Pink House where in the U.S., Europe, Japan, or Korea (among other more expensive destinations), they would get 8 or 9 Bombs Out Of 10. But in terms of other local (India in general, Dharamsala in particular) establishments, on which I base my “VALUE” determinations, Pink House is very middle of the road. Therefore, if you have great knees, do not mind the cold or paying a bit extra for the convenience of eating in your room, and enjoy beautiful views, fair service, and in-house laundry services, then Pink House is a fair choice. But be warned, there are better values out there, particularly for those visiting for extended periods where significant discounts of 50% to 70% can be had over nightly lodging prices … and make sure your deposit is applied to your bill!

CombatCritic Gives Pink House Hotel 4 Bombs Out Of 10Deductions for Dangerous Stairs, Slow Internet, Varying Restaurant Hours, No Heat, and Missing Deposit … More Bombs Are Better









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Long Walk (Uphill Both Ways), All For Not


I decided to try Taste of India on a nice Sunday afternoon in mid-November, walking 15-minutes up the steep TIPA Road from the Main Square in McLeod Ganj. 

When I finally arrived, low and behold the door was locked (2:45 pm), the TV on, and the windows looking like they had not been cleaned in years. I had doubts as to whether the place had been abandoned or not, but the TV made me believe that their were inhabitants, food or no food, but they were nowhere in sight.

I was looking forward to some authentic Indian food after reading the many good reviews on TripAdvisor, but it was not meant to be, so I strolled back down the hill in search of other options,

CombatCritic MUST Give Taste of India 1 Bomb Out Of 10 … MORE BOMBS ARE BETTER!