At about 6am we arrived at our destination groggy and half asleep. Off loaded into what seemed like the middle of nowhere we retrieved our dust encased bags and started to think what we needed to do to get to Mcloud Ganj. As always we did not have to think too hard or wait long as there was a taxi near eager to take us.
In ten minutes we were again dropped off in the main square. Where there were people milling about either waiting to catch the bus or for tourists like us to turn up. A couple of guys descended on us immediately offering cheap hotels. I was not ready so I tried to assemble my thoughts but gave up and accepted the hotel that said mountain view. We were them led down the main street and into a dank alley. I thought immediately that this was dodgy as we but my bad feelings were allayed when led up the stairs to a decent looking room. It had no mountain view of course, when I asked he showed me another room which was smaller so In the end we elected the larger room. I promptly went to sleep to catch a couple more hours sleep. Sherv was wide awake so couldn't keep still and eventually I gave up trying to sleep and got up and showered.
We then wandered up to the Regional Mountaineering centre to find out what we could do. We were met by a tall old man with a thin moustache. He still seemed to be strong and I imagined a strong mountaineer in his youth. He also had the kindly patient air of a grandfather or headmaster. Our hopes for trekking seemed to be dashed straight away. All the passes were closed due to snow as it had been a cold winter but at the last minute he said that they were doing a trek to kerile lake on Wednesday, if we would like to join. Add to this it would only cost 1000 rupees per person per day. In unison both Sherv and I asked where we could sign up. The centre head said no need just turn up on Wednesday before 9am.
Happy we left the centre and walked further up the hill to explore a bit more. There we found a small cafe overlooking Drumhnot valley, a picturesque valley. There we had our leisurely brunch and decided that we should walk up to Dal lake. A holy lake about 4km out of M.g.
We went at a leisurely pace and after asking a couple of times to check we were going the right way we arrived. We passed the cathedral of Dharamsala, a small church with grounds that would fit perfectly into the English countryside. There in the grave yard was the tomb of the Viceroy of India, a Lord Elgin who died in the 1860's. I imagine he was an ancestor of the famous Lord Elgin who carted off the Parthenon Marbles.
The lake was not that picturesque, it was green and dirty. The people celebrate a festival in September by bathing in it, I imagine after the rains in July and August it is a lot cleaner. We stayed about twenty minutes and headed back to town but via a different route. We had come to the lake by the lower road so we took the high road to M.g.
Having done our exercise for the day we treated ourselves to a Masala tea in the tibetan co-op cafe, which has views of the valley.
The rest of the evening we relaxed and ate at a Tibetan restaurant where we had Thenthuk, a soup of meat or vegetables and flat pasta, a very filling dish. Aware that the next day was going to be long as we had decided to trek up to Triund, about a 20km round trip, we went back to the hotel.