Good morning, Delhi! A comfortable, clean and quiet night at the Lemon Tree Hotel, just 5-10 minutes away from the airport. I’d recommend this as an easy overnight stay, especially if you’re arriving or leaving late at night.
I flew to Dharamsala with domestic airline, SpiceJet, which I thought won first prize for a fab name for a local airline (and then I spotted IndiGo as a close contender).
Airplane views of the Dharamsala area showed rolling green hills dotted with houses and trees. A row of official taxis waited at the quaint little airport and I hopped into one decorated with an Om sign and Ganesh on the rear window.
The drive started off with some charming landscapes, the occasional group of cows or goats suddenly appearing in the middle of the road, people standing in doorways and watching as we drove past.
And then, “the heavens opened” was an understatement for the torrential downpour that made our rain storms in Florida look like Irish mist. Okay, this confirms I’ve arrived in monsoon weather. As we made our way on the steep ascent to Mcleod Ganj, peering through the blurry windscreen, I was more entertained than panicked, because the driver was excellent; throwing the gear stick into different positions and revving or braking as he swerved around people and animals, squeezed past oncoming cars, hauled the jeep around hairpin bends and ploughed through rivers of chai tea coloured muddy water gushing down from the mountains.
Impressive stuff. At one point we lurched past a sign that read, “Only for car and jeep” – yes, because the goats have given it up as a bad idea a long time ago!
We stopped at the bright yellow and red sign for the Kailash Tribal School of Yoga. It was still Noah and ark weather as I lugged my huge suitcase down the narrow stairway, teetering down the mountainside, to meet Yogi Sivadas, our yoga teacher and founder of the school.
I was soaked through, but laughing and happy to be here, as he welcomed me and showed me my cosy little yogi cottage; complete with second-chakra-orange doors and cheerful pink and blue bedding. Included in his welcome was a warning to watch out for the mischievous monkeys, who “come looking for food and if you leave your door open they’ll have a party in your room – but they’ll also have a poop party there.”
I stood on my balcony, wondering what the view out over the valley would look like once the weather had cleared, and thinking about what the next 6 weeks of yoga adventure will bring.