Community & Tourism – Mcleodganj, India :EcoTourism voices an International Cause

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McLeodganj has only two parallel streets, so the locals make fun of it and call it Trousers!!

I giggle when I hear that and let the cool, fresh breeze invigorate every cell in my body. This is my first trip to Mcleodganj which is located in the suburbs of Dharamshala in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh which is known as the “The Abode of Gods”.  Nestled in the Himalayas, Mcleodganj is the elixir for the eyes and soul. All that greeted me every day in my hectic Bombay life was just traffic, screeching of horns and pollution. Mcleodganjwas the perfect escape, too small to be called a city and yet too broad-minded to be called a village!

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Mcleodganj is named after the former viceroy of Punjab-Sir Donald Mcleod.  It’s a tiny hamlet In Himalayas where majority of people earn their living by either farming or rearing animals for dairy. However, the economy of the state has boomed beyond agriculture since the influx of tourism. Teenagers swarm Mcleodganjas it is the perfect trekking destination, couples for romantic getaway and families for some time away from the conundrums of the city life.

Himachal Pradesh is the hub of tourist activity throughout the year, for its breathtaking beauty, adventure sports, camping, trekking and even religious tourism.  Mcleodganj has emerged as the Mecca of Eco Tourism with its lush green, scenic valleys and roads lined with Coniferous trees.  What adds further to its beauty is the spiritual charm that resides in this laidback hamlet.  It is a popular seat of his holiness Dalai Lama and hence dotted with monasteries like the Namgyal Monastry, The Nechung Monsatry and other tell tale signs of Buddhist cultures. The local handicrafts like Tibetan carpets, garments like Tibet Shawls and many other souvenirs are a rage among tourists as they are exclusive to Buddhist Culture. People come here from world over to learn Yoga, meditation and about Buddhist culture, religion and crafts.

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“Prayer wheels at Tsug la Khang temple, McLeod Ganj”

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Other than handicrafts, the cuisine too is dictated by Buddhist platelet.  Mcleodganj offers a string of eateries, open terrace hotels and bars which spoil the tourists for choice and provide the perfect gastronomical treat. From fried momos to authentic thukpas, sushi rolls and other Bhutanese, Italian, Mexican, Tibetan and continental dishes.  The locals earn their decent living by way of restaurant business, micro businesses, as travel guides and even homestays. Many women have become self-employed and financially independent by engaging in trade and the hospitality industry. The ordinary houses double as restaurants offering mouth-watering Buddhist delicacies and as home theaters.

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ecotourism & Pilgrims have brought economic and social prosperity in the region. The locals are warm hosts; Tibetan monks attired in their graceful saffron robe mingle freely with tourists. Sometimes, a group of youngsters voice their opinion on the issue of “Free Tibet”. It’s probably the first example where Eco Tourism supports an international Political cause.

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