Road leading to abode of Dalai Lama in pathetic condition
Known as little Lhasa, McLeodganj, the town nestled in lush green hills with mighty Dhauladhars in the backdrop, lures thousands of westerners, being the exile home to the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.punjab Updated: Sep 07, 2014 20:00 IST
Known as little Lhasa, McLeodganj, the town nestled in lush green hills with mighty Dhauladhars in the backdrop, lures thousands of westerners, being the exile home to the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.
However, travelling on the road leading to the small hill town, better known as the centre of spiritual living, has not only become a nightmare for the tourists, but has also perturbed the Nobel peace laureate who has been living here for over half- a- century.
Not only the road connecting McLeodganj town with Dharamsala, a town 10 km downhill, but the streets, dotted with potholes and dogged by frequent traffic jams paint a grim picture of the town that suffers from the apathy of the government as well as the local authorities.
“During my audience with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader told me that he was very disappointed about the poor condition of the roads,” said Vijai Singh Mankotia, vice- chairman, Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board. Mankotia added that the Dalai Lama even showed him an article published in a foreign newspaper on the traffic chaos and bad road conditions in the hill town.
“It's a sorry state of affairs that the area which holds international importance is reeling under such a problem,” said Mankoita adding, “Such condition also paints a negative picture of McLeodganj in the west.”
Lobsang Wangyal, a local resident and an entrepreneur, said Mcleodganj may be a small town by most standards, but it is known around the world because this is where one of the world's most well-known spiritual leaders resides. It is not only the home of the Dalai Lama but is also the capital of the Tibetan diaspora, he added.
“Yet the town's poor infrastructure, particularly the roads, stands out not only as a kind of disrespect to the Dalai Lama but also shows the apathy and ineffectiveness of the authorities. And at the same time, it brings disgrace and embarrassment to India,” he added.
Jim Scot, a British tourist, said that the roads are one problem and driving uphill towards McLeodganj is much more a risky task.
“The road dotted with potholes makes the drive so uncomfortable that you give it a second thought when it comes to visit McLeodganj,” he said adding, “Then there is repelling garbage and poor hygienic conditions in the street visitors usually come across.”
Eleven persons were injured recently when a private bus going from Mcleodganj skidded off the road at a damaged patch.
“Three years ago, conditions were much better,” said Ashwani Kumar, an hotelier while adding that the tourists visiting the town now do not prefer to stay here due to lack of facilities.
Himachal Pradesh public works department (PWD) official at Dharamsala said that re-laying of the road stretch from Dharamsala to Mcleodganj is being done under a project of the ministry of road transport and highways.
“Half the work has been done and the rest will be undertaken after the monsoon is over. We hope to complete it by December,” said an official.
Funds worth Rs 20.90 crore have been sanctioned for constructing of 4-km Jogiwara road connecting McLeodganj with Dharamsala, but the project is yet to take off and will take at least three years for completion.
Meanwhile, tourism development vice-chairman Mankotia said that he recently raised the issue with chief minister Virbhadra Singh who has assured that repair of McLeodganj roads will be taken on war footing, besides resolving other problems too.