Think bustling roads and crowded ghettos, add a serene valley and a couple of snow-capped mountain peaks to the imaginary scenery, give the image one last parting touch of old Buddhist monks walking along the riverside and that’s Dharamshala holidays
for you. Once touted as a potential summer capital for India, an earthquake back in 1905 brought the bustling valley to its knees, but the unrelenting cheer and spirit of its sparse population has brought it back up from the ashes to its status today. Dharamshala remains a hugely popular tourist destination mainly because it provides facilities for both rocky/hardy adventure sports and spiritual salvation. So when your folks are out waiting to catch a glimpse of the Dalai Lama, you can get high on adrenaline with your mountain gear and trekking kit all packed and ready to go.
Dharamshala is a Tibetan stronghold; it houses hundreds of Tibetan refugees and is also home to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Spiritual head. This spiritual connection is the reason for the heavy influx of local and foreign tourists in the area, making it a prominent destination for those who seek their salvation. Located in the upper realms of the Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh, the city is split into three regions: McLeod Ganj, Kotwali Bazaar and Kachcheri. The Dalai Lama resides in McLeod Ganj, and even the headquarters of the exiled Tibetan Government is housed there, so do not miss it on your Dharamsala tours in HImachal Pradesh
Places with scenic beauty
If you are looking for a regular tour with the works to relieve you and wipe away your mental fatigue, plan a trip for three days so that you can soak your soul among its deciduous forests and placid lakes. The first day can be well spent by exploring McLeod Ganj, the upper region of Dharamshala. Masrur is a frequently visited tourist spot on North India holidays
in Dharamsala that houses beautifully carved rock temples of the 8th century. These temples are dedicated to Ram, Lakshman and Sita and are vaguely similar to the temples in Ellora. The Bhagsunag temple, another famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located around two kilometers from McLeod Ganj bazaar. The Bhagsunag waterfall which lies behind the temple is also a famous tourist spot. Heavy monsoon, a regular event in Dharamshala, can turn the waterfall into a 30 feet cascade.
From McLeod Ganj, one can also visit the famous Dal Lake, which is spread out over a distance of one kilometer. Try visiting Triund during your second day of travel. This trekking spot, present 17 kilometers from Dharamshala, is sure to amaze you with breathtaking views of the valley below. Another spot that offers beautiful views of the Himalayan scenery is Naddi, which lies to the northwest. And don’t forget to visit the Kunal Parthi temple and the Chamunda Temple, both being local favorites with teeming crowds trying to find their spiritual calling. Dharamshala is not much of a shopping hub, and the best souvenir you can pick up from this place would be the Tibetan Singing Bowl is a hot seller in its bazaars and is used in music therapy. Also include a trip to Shimla Kullu Manali
when in Dharamsala.
Planning your trip
For non-trekkers, planning the trip for 2-3 days would be ideal while trekkers can plan the duration of their trip personally, taking into account the locations they decide to explore. Due to the sheer intensity of its monsoon, the perfect time to visit Dharamshala would be around mid May – mid October. The temperatures range around 15 degrees in autumn and 35 when summer strikes. The tourists can also be there for the ‘Saka Dawa’, a major festival for all the Tibetian Buddhists that falls in the month of June.
Dharamshala can be reached easily bus, and this is the most preferred mode of transport. Buse packages from New Delhi
can run all the way to McLeod Ganj while a few buses stop at the lower part of the city. Buses from Delhi charge around Rs 450 for Deluxe seating, and air conditioned Volvo buses may charge anywhere around Rs 800 - 900. The nearest broad gauge station is at Pathankot, which has direct trains from Delhi. The Gaggal airport in Kangra is the nearest airport, and has flights from Delhi and Kullu, though due to turbulent weather, air travel is not much favored. Once in Dharamshala, autorickshaws and taxis are available at moderate rates to roam within the city.
In McLeod Ganj, Hotel Tibet and Bhagsu Hotel offer neat and spacious rooms for moderate prices of around Rs 1000-1600 per night. Established places to dine are the Shangri La restaurant and Carpe Diem, where western meals and home made muesli are provided for moderate prices. On an average, it might cost anywhere between Rs 1500 – 2000 for a couple to stay and roam around in Dharamsala, which is very moderate, considering the beauty and the specialty endow peace in your mind.
Dharamshala offers so much to see in so little time, so just grab your backpacks and live out your trekking and spiritual dreams in the serene shelter of its mountains.