Image by Jms 1241
When I think Dharamshala, I see, and sniff, dense Deodar forests brimming with the deep dark scent of cedar, ancient sages and magic but you’re heading there to pay homage to another kind of religion- cricket. The much awaited ICC World Twenty20 (more popularly known as the T20 World Cup) is here and the second match, Men’s Group A: Bangladesh Vs The Netherlands is being held at HPCA Stadium on the 9th of March. But let’s be brutally honest, the match that had everyone booking their tickets to Himachal was undoubtedly the Men’s Group 2 match on the 19th of March, the ever-tenuous India Vs Pakistan. It is also the venue for the one match I will tune into, the Women’s Group B match on the 22nd of March, England Vs India. So the current request to change venue notwithstanding, here is our Eat guide to Dharamshala, the city of heavenly scent.
There are three distinct areas in ‘Dhasa’- the locals name for Dharamshala, the Dalai Lama’s exiled home, the lower town resplendent with tiny stone lanes and woody pathways that will take you to the busy mountain top city center, McLeod Ganj. That’s where you’ll find yourself tucking into the ubiquitous momo and slurping the hearty thukpa. Tibet Kitchen would be our first stop. Try fruit beer and the steamed momos but beware the authentic Tibetan palette. The mild delicate flavorings might not be what you’re expecting after having a spicy momo or thupka in Delhi. As with all hill stations, Dhasa has a penchant for the sweet tooth. There’s Woeser Bakery with its famous chocolate cappuccinos or Crepe Pancake Hut for a mid-day brunch complete with chocolate pancakes before you head to the games. Vegetarians needn’t worry; Namgyal Café will satisfy your hunger pangs with vegetarian pizza while you enjoy a terrace view. Illiterati, as it’s name suggests, is where the book lovers flock to; enjoy a quiet afternoon by the fire reading eastern philosophy, or trying to at least, while you enjoy Three roti tacos with honey-soy chicken, balsamic vinaigrette red onions, creamy garlic aioli, cabbage and mustard carrot sauerkraut, tomato salsa cruda with lime and chaat masala, fresh paneer, rocket salad, and a side of paprika cucumber slices and crisp pickled carrots. Just listing the ingredients made us feel like we’ve been on a three-day juice diet. Lovers of Tibetan food should also head to Common Ground Café and sample the Eggplant with twelve spice hot sauce. If you’re craving pasta, and who doesn’t after a couple of days on vacation, there are two Italian joints that come highly recommended- Nick’s (order the warm walnut cake) and Ogo’s Italian Café, both considered relatively authentic.
Dharamshala, the spiritual haven home to so many exiled Tibetans, is also home to what maybe the longest serving royal family in the world, the Katoch dynasty of Kangra!