Dharamshala, formerly known as Bhagsu, is a city known as ‘Heaven on Earth’ located in Himachal Pradesh.
Situated in the picturesque Kangra valley and set against the Dhauladhar mountain range in Himachal Pradesh, Dharamsala is an ideal retreat for nature lovers. The pristine environment with dense green cover consisting of Deodar and Pine trees provides a visual treat. Dharamsala is also the winter capital of Himachal Pradesh.
Dharamsala consists of two distinct areas which are separated by a 10 minute bus or jeep ride.
Lower Dharamsala is where most of the government offices, schools, the local hospital and commercial areas are located. It also has a few tea gardens. The upper Dharamsala, known more commonly as McLeod Ganj, is the seat of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. It is home to the Tibetan community and epicentre of religio-tourism centred around Tibetan Buddhism.
In and Around
Surrounded by high and green Deodar trees is the lake, which fills a mountain bowl. Situated 03-kms away from the town, this lake is easily approachable by road and makes an enchanting and serene picnic spot.
This treasure trove of the Kangra valley’s arts, crafts, and rich past, displays artifacts that date back to the 5th century. The museum also includes a gallery of Kangra’s famous miniature paintings and a representative collection of sculptures, pottery, and anthropological items.This ancient fort is located about 20 kilometres away from Dharamshala and houses a few temples that can be accessed by passing through seven gates. A major tourist attraction at the Kangra Fort is the magnificent view of the Manjhi and Banganga rivers from here.
Also called Bhagsu Falls, this site houses the famous Bhagsunath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is a famous tourist attraction and also an important place for Hindu pilgrims. The cascading waterfalls, about 20 metres in height, are an absolute marvel to look at, especially during the monsoons. There is a nice cafeteria next to the falls and the area serve as an excellent picnic spot for tourists. Bhagsunag Falls are located about 2 kilometres away from McLeodganj and are best visit while on a trek, although you can also drive up to Bhagsu village.
Triund is is 9km from the place. Triund is a popular picnic spot at a height of 2827 m. The area is on the foothills of Dhauladhar range and is 17-kms from Dharamshala. The snow line starts at Ilaqua, which is 05-kms from Triund. The breathtaking views of the mountains and the valleys makes Triund an ideal picnic spot and trekking spot.
The Dalai Lama Temple Complex
The Dalai Lama Temple Complex is a beautiful and peaceful place located in Upper Dharamshala, just a short walk away from the Mcleod Ganj Bus Stand. Decorated with the colourful prayer flags, it’s perfect for long serene walks, or early morning meditation with chanting monks.
St. John Church
One of the most poignant memories of the British Raj is the church of St. John, situated in the wilderness. This charmingly dressed stone church is located just 1-km from Mcleodgunj. Under the shade of Deodar branches, a memorial has been made over the body of the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died at Dharamshala in 1863.
It is around 14 km form Dharamshala. This is an ideal place for a picnic near to Dharamshala. It is situated in the Himalayan mountain range giving an amazing view of the surrounds.
Often called the Little Lhasa, at 1770m is the residence of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Government in exile has been head quartered here for over three decades. The impressive monastery has larger than life images of the Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avaloktwshwara. The large Tibetan community and the presence of traditional architectural designs drawn from Tibet have enhanced the area. Tibetian handicrafts and garments are available on sale every Sunday. The Tibetian Institute of Performing Arts is just a km away and organises a ten day festival from the second Saturday of April.
At there start of town, landscaped lawns and a web of narrow paths fill a pine grove where a monument has been raised to commemorate the post independence war heroes of Himachal Pradesh.
A 3 km level walk from the Kotwali Bazaar leads up to this rock temple.
The temple of Jwalamukhi, Chamunda Devi and Brijeshwari Devi are other pilgrim centers close to Dharamsala. The fort of Kangra and Ma11ngarh are other attractions.
Adventure Activities and Sports
Between May and October, the Dhauladhar ranges offer an enormous variety of trekking and rock climbing.
The 20 km stretch of the river Beas between Nadaun and Pong Dam offers ample opportunities in angling for Mahaseer.
For local handicrafts visit Kotwali Bazar, Tibetan handicrafts and carpets are available at Mcleodganj.
Dharamshala experiences four climates in a year: summer, monsoon, autumn and winter and the best time to visit Dharamshala is from September to October and then again from March to June.
How to Reach
There is no airport at Dharamshala. The closest airport is Gaggal 15kms away. Airlines like Kingfisher Red offers daily flights from Delhi to Dharamsala arriving at Gaggal Airport, well known as Kangra Airport. From the airport feel free to hire a cab to get to the main town.
The nearest rail station for Dharamshala is at Pathankot, 150 kms down in the plains. There is a narrow guage train from Pathankot to Kangra (18 kms). After getting off at the railway station, you can avail the bus service or hire private or shared taxis to get to Dharamshala.
Dharamshala is well connected to all the cities of New Delhi though the Inter State Bus Services. From Dharamshala and McLeodganj there are regular bus services to Dalhousie, Chamba, Manali, Shimla and further down to Delhi. You could drive in by rented car from any of these towns as well. The countryside is interesting but the roads are not so great.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
The Sanctuary – A Sterling Holiday Resort
Sidhpur Khanyara Road,
Fortune Park Moksha
Near Dal Lake,
McleodGanj Dharamshala Cantt,
Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh,176216
Asia Health Resorts and Spa
Asia Health Resorts, Strawberry Hills,
Near Dal Lake, Strawberry Hills,
Dharamshala , Himachal Pradesh,176216
Where to Eat
Moon Peak Cafe
Tempel Road ,
Jimmy’s Italian kitchen
Jogibara Road , McLeodgunj,
The Choclate log]
Jogibara Road ,
McLeod Gunj, Dharamsala