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Visit to Dalai Lama's abode is tourists' nightmare

IANS 05 Aug 2014, 9:00:11 AM IST
Mcleodganj (Himachal Pradesh): The road to Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama's abode passes through hell.

Foreigners and domestic tourists coming to this north Indian hill town, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, for an audience with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate find the road disappearing under the wheels of the vehicle they are travelling in.

They also complain of repelling garbage dumps, refuse-littered lanes and poor hygienic conditions of McLeodganj, the uphill quaint town which has gained prominence for attracting a steady stream of Tibet enthusiasts, Buddhist scholars, backpackers and even Hollywood stars like Richard Gere and Pierce Brosnan.

"The bumpy and uncomfortable drive through eight kilometres of narrow, steep road from Dharamsala to McLeodganj is a motorist's nightmare," tourist Joe Allen from the Netherlands told IANS.

He said the entire stretch has given way to a strip of cobbled stones.

"As one tries to drive towards McLeodganj, the potholed road makes for such a bumpy ride that it really tests the driving skills of a motorist," Allen's friend Chelsea said.

McLeodganj is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile and the town and its suburbs support around 16,000 exiled Tibetans and an equal number of Indians.

Tenzin Tsering, who has been living in McLeodganj with the snow-clad Dhauladhar ranges in the backdrop, said it's now been over a year that both roads connecting McLeodganj with Dharamsala are dotted with potholes and are virtually non-existent at a number of points.

"Heavy vehicles like buses move like seesaws as they cross big craters, some even up to the size of a shallow grave," he added.

Bus driver Ramesh Kumar said a number of motorists reported pothole-related damage to their vehicles. Accidents are frequent.

Eleven tourists were injured July 31 when a private bus going from McLeodganj skidded off the road and rolled down a hill due to the bad road.

And, once you reach McLeodganj, the poor condition of its streets will greet you, a reflection of the complete apathy and callousness of town's municipal authorities. Garbage is strewn everywhere and the drains are clogged with loads of rubbish. Stray dogs and the cattle menace are driving tourists away.