By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 11 March 2020
McLeod Ganj, a Himalayan village in northern India, is known as the abode of the Dalai Lama, and the headquarters of the Tibetans in exile. But coming to this popular place is not so convenient.
The McLeod Ganj bus station was closed for private buses since May last year, and it continues to be closed, causing major problems for travellers.
The reasons for the closure are unclear, but it has been reported that there was a disagreement between state transport authorities and the contractor of the facility, built on a build-operate-transfer arrangement.
It is also being said that the transport authorities say that the bad condition of the roads is the reason for the closure of the bus stand. However, the government buses are plying on the same road.
Since the closure of the bus station, all the private buses stop in Dharamshala, causing inconvenience to all the travellers. There are more than a dozen buses whose destination is McLeod Ganj, but now they can’t go farther than Dharamshala. Travellers must get off at the side of the road, but can choose one of the waiting taxis to take them to McLeod Ganj.
To take a bus to Delhi from McLeod is even more inconvenient. One must drag one’s luggage through the steep streets to find a taxi to Dharamshala, possibly in the rain. There the buses sit at the side of the road, with no shelter or proper waiting area.
Most of the buses between Delhi and McLeod Ganj run at night, taking 12 hours for each trip. A one-way ticket costs from Rs 800 to Rs 1,200 for a/c buses. A taxi between Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj adds another Rs 200.
The travellers using these services are mostly Tibetans, along with foreign tourists.
The bus station facility itself was constructed some 15 years ago, but was never completed, and the structure has been in a dilapidated state ever since it was opened. During the monsoon season, the floors are flooded with dirty water, leaving no dry and clean area for people to wait or put their luggage down.