Dharamshala the ever beautiful town located in the scenic valleys of the Dhauladhars in Himachal Pradesh is calm and serene hill station is situated at an average altitude of 1500 meters above the sea level and is surrounded by the deodar cedar trees. Snow capped mountains, exotic culture and peaceful old monasteries are some of the specialties that make this Place unforgettable. Presence of the great Tibetan leader H.H Dalai Lama along with other Buddhist monks and several Tibetan Monasteries has made Dharamshala one of the most popular tourist destinations in North India. This picturesque surroundings and the presence of great Buddhism culture make Dharamshala as one of the best hill stations in India. Dharamshala is also nicknamed as ‘Little Lhasa’ due to the huge number of Tibetan settlements located here.
Dharamshala is divided into two parts, upper Dharamshala also called Mcleodganj and lower Dharamshala giving the tourists more options to explore the area. There are scenic landscapes, bungalows, churches, monasteries, and cantonment that are surrounded by the mighty Dhauladhars Mountains. Mcleodganj a small village is a must visit place for the tourists visiting the valley. This scenic hill station is small yet stunning with views of the magnificent Dhauladhars range. Charming St. John Church, headquarters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Bhagsu Nag Temple/Waterfall, Naddi Sun Set Point, Dal Lake, etc. are some of the famous tourist spots in Mcleodganj that draw tourists from different parts of the country. In Lower Dharamshala one can see War Memorial, Kangra art Museum etc.
Dharamshala : General Information
Altitude: Varies between 1,250 meters to 1,650 meters.
Headquarter: Dharamshala (Headquarter of district Kangra)
Location: In district Kangra, in the heart of Dhauladhar range.
Access by Air: Nearest airport is Gaggal airport located 15 km. from Dharamshala. Other
airports having regular service are: Jammu 200 km., Amritsar 210 km. and Chandigarh 260 km.
Access by Rail: Nearest broad gauge railhead is Pathankot 95 km. A narrow gauge railway
line between Pathankot and Jogindernagar passes through Kangra, 17 km. from Dharamshala.
Access by Road: Almost each and every part of the state is linked by roads.
Distance: Chandigarh 239 km., Delhi 514 km., Nangal 145 km., Jalandhar 166 km., Hoshiarpur
128 km., Mandi 147 km., Jwalamukhi 55 km., Kullu 214 km., Manali 252 km., Chamba 192 km.
and Shimla 270 km.
Things to Do in Dharamshala: Dharamshala attracts all of tourists from different age groups and regions from Pilgrims to family, adventure loving people, honeymoon couples and the backpackers. Tandem Paragliding at Bir Billing with Stay, and McLeod Ganj Weekend Getaway-Trekking and Paragliding are two of the most sought-after excursions in the area. There are varieties of activities one can do in Dharamshala. Some of the most famous activities are
- Trekking:- Dharamshala is a heaven for the trekkers as there are number of treks that can be organized in the area in different categories from Mcleodganj ranging from Day hike to long expeditions. Most tourists go on a single day trek to the famous Triund hills, which is just 9 kms from Mcleodganj and is a must see for the adventurers.
- Paragliding: – Among various adventurous activities hosted in the area, paragliding in Dharamshala has become a hot favorite among tourists. Paragliding usually take place in Bir, a small town surrounded by vast mountains on all sides. This site makes for an ideal location for launching and landing gliders. This has made it one of the hubs for the sport in the country. This town hosted Paragliding World Cup taking its fame to another level. Some Paragliding adventures in Dharamshala are notable as they combine trekking with the thrilling sport.
- Bike Riding: The thrill of riding between the mountains with memorizing views can never be compared. Bike Riding has came a favorite activity in the recent years. One can rent from a variety of two wheelers from easy driven scooty to the sports bikes like Pulsar, but the most popular one is Royal Enfield which gives an unforgettable ride in the hills.
- Pilgrimage: Himachal is famous for its temples from the ancient times as there are many known temples in the state like
- Chintpurni Devi Temple
- Jwala Jee Temple
- Chamunda Jee Temple
- Naina Devi Temple
- Kangra Jee Temple also known as Brajeshwari Devi Temple
- Camping: For the backpackers and the adventure loving tourists there are a number of camping options but the most famous is Triund hills. This is a small trek of 9 Km from Mcleodganj and the top camping site of the area giving a magnificent view of the town in the night. Balh Village also provides a good option of riverside camping and can be reached very easily.
Best Time to Visit Dharamshala/Mcleodganj: This beautiful hill station is surrounded by oak and conifer trees and offers beautiful views of the snow capped mountains. The day temperature is very pleasant in Dharamshala and nights are cool. The months of March-June are the best time to visit Dharamshala as it doesn’t get too cold or hot during this season. For someone who loves rainy season the hill station presents some very scenic views of the freshly washed forests during the months of July and August. Winter too is the best time to visit Dharamshala, especially for tourists who want to experience snowfall. The months between December and February are the best to catch a glimpse of chilly Dharamshala.
Best Places to Visit in Dharamshala/Mcleodganj:
1. Tsuglagkhang Complex is the best place to take the glimpse of Tibetan culture. This place is official home of the 14th Dalai Lama and is the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet. The place is a major pilgrimage site for exiled Tibetans and is also heavily visited by tourists from all over the world.
2. Namgyal Monastery is also one of the major tourist attractions in the town and was established by the 3rd Dalai Lama in 1575. The monastery is one of the major learning and cultural centers of the Tibetan populated in Dharamshala. The monastery currently houses around 200 Tibetan monks
3. Mcleodganj With an average elevation of 2,082 meters above sea level. The place is known for its various attractions including the residence of the 14th Dalai Lama. The place is one of the most frequented spots in Dharamshala and is famous for its Tibetan culture, handicrafts and temples.
4. Masrur Temple is famous for its various rock-cut temples that date back to the 8th century AD. The carvings in the temples are finely detailed and are similar to that of the Ellora caves in Maharashtra and contain various images of the Hindu deities like Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshmana from the oldest Hindu epic, Ramayana.
5. Kareri Lake is an unexplored gem of the Dhauladhars range. It’s not easily accessible by roads and therefore not a much visited site but its isolation has helped in its preservation. This location also serves as a base camp for trekkers moving towards Dhauladhars range.
6. Bhagsunag Temple is one of the most visited place in Mcleodganj and is surrounded by swimming pools, lush greenery and waterfall 1km away from the temple. There are number of cafes around this religious center presenting flattering sceneries around and much of vibrance and color surrounding it.
7. Kangra Museum houses various articles and artifacts that are significant to the Tibetan Buddhists and the Kangra Valley culture. The various manuscripts, handicrafts, pottery place here date back to the 5th century and the facility also contains a library.
8. Kangra Fort was the seat and residence of the one of the oldest existing dynasties in the World. The Katoch rulers of Kangra belong to the lineage of the rulers of Trigarta mentioned in the Hindu Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and also in Alexander the Great’s war records. The fort complex contains several well detailed halls and watchtowers along with a couple of temples that date back to the 9th century AD.
9. Dal Lake in Dharamshala is named after its eponymous counterpart in Jammu and Kashmir. The lake is spread across 1 square kilometer and resembles the lake at Kashmir. It is one of the popular picnic spot and is surrounded by the thick deodar and juniper forests. The Kali temple located near the banks is home to a marvelous annual fair.
10. Naddi Village is mostly visited by trekkers going towards Mcleodganj but recently it has also become popular among other tourists. Its serenic beauty, favourable climate and the many fairs have attracted many who come here to relax in the lap of nature. This quaint and serene village provides some of the best views of the nearby terrain.
Other attractions in and around Dharamshala include Triund, Snowlion , Inderhara Peak, Norbulingka Institute and Tea gardens etc. Being renowned in the world for its distinctive blend of the Kangra and Tibetan culture, Dharamshala is one of the most frequented tourist places in India. The place is also famous for its amazing views it is. The above-mentioned places are few of the most popular tourist places in Dharamshala and are a must visit but there are many other hidden attractions for the tourists in this beautiful hill station.