Moving on from Delhi, we caught a late night train to Lucknow to start a few days of intense filming. This was the part of the trip I was most nervous about because we had a pretty long shot list and the heat combined with working in direct sun for long hours was something I had been dreading.
But actually, it wasn't so bad. I think the human body can become accustomed to anything pretty quickly, and while we avoided the worst heat of the day, there were very few moments where I thought I couldn't handle it.
Someone mentioned to me that Lucknow is "a little rough around the edges", and I would say that's a pretty accurate description. It's a bit run down, and though it has the bones of some pretty beautiful architecture in parts, I wouldn't say it's the romantic India that travelers dream of.
Lucknow is famous for it's kebabs, and while I like to keep to a mostly vegetarian diet when I travel for work, I made an exception for these because I've been told by many that they are not to be missed. And they were pretty good! I tried the mutton kebabs, and the best way I can describe them is that they were mince which had been ground into a paste, heavily spiced and molded in a patty which was then fried. It's a funny texture, but it tasted pretty good and came served with chapati.
From Lucknow we took a 15 hour train ride to Pathankot, drove through the Punjab and arrived in Himachal Pradesh and Dharamshala. Arriving in our hotel in Palampur was such a breath of fresh air. There were loads of pine trees creating so much shade, the temperature was perfect, streams and tea plantations were everywhere, and it seemed like it was snowing with some sort of strange jellyfish like pollen. And the Dhauladhar mountain range was the perfect backdrop with its blue shadows and snowy peaks.
The feeling of peace which comes from leaving somewhere like Lucknow and arriving in a quiet and remote location like Palampur was overwhelming. The beauty of it all was so striking, and the location was perfect for a photo shoot! I'll share that next.
But the sunset on our first night was gorgeous as we walked back from town with a few presents for friends and a belly full of galub jamun, which is a delicious and super sugary desert in India.
We filmed for a few days in the relative cool, which was so refreshing, and then one afternoon the team took us to McLeod Ganj which is where you'll find the Dali Lama's temple. I was so excited to visit, mostly because it was so unexpected - I didn't even realise it was there and I never expected we would have the time to go and see it! I wrote a bit more about it here, but if you ever get a chance, definitely go - don't let the crazy tourism of it all put you off.
If I could go back to India for a holiday, I would definitely go back to Himachal Pradesh and explore it all a bit more. It's full of so much natural beauty, so much history and it's pretty easy to travel around. There are lots of buses you can take, but if taking a bus is your idea of hell (like it is mine - hello car sickness!), I would recommend a taxi or a driver which wouldn't be too expensive.
I hope you get the chance to visit, and I hope I get to go back there one day.