The High snow clad Dhauladhar ranges form a magnificent backdrop to the hill resort of Dharamsala which is the principal township of Kangra district and overlooks wide spread of the plains. With dense pine and deodar forests, numerous streams, cool healthy air, attractive surroundings and the nearby snowline, Dharamsala has everything for a perfect holiday. It is full of life and yet peaceful. The headquarters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are at upper Dharamsala. Covering a wide area in the form of twin settlement, lower Dharamsala (1380m) is a busy commercial centre.
While upper Dharamsala (1830m) with the suburbs of Mcleodganj and Forsytheganj, retains a British flavor and colonial lifestyle. The charming church of St. John in the wilderness is situated here and this is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British Viceroy of India during the 19th century. There is also a large Tibetan community who have made this place their home. Numerous ancient temples like Jwalamukhi, Brijeshwari and Chamunda lie on the plains below Dharamsala.
Nestled in the mystic hills of the district of Kangra is Dharamsala, a hill station that captures your imagination with its picturesque natural beauty and unique mix of Tibetan, British and Himanchali cultures. Quietude surrounds Dharamsala from all sides, and it also offers some of the most picturesque views of the adjoining Kangra valley and the snow-clad Himalayas beyond. This is as close as you can get to harmonious bliss in the hills. As hill stations become popular, their beauty tends to get hackneyed by excessive commercialisation and often irresponsible tourism, but Dharamsala has managed to keep off this trend; it is still as pristine as a concealed hilltop hamlet should be.
Dharamsala is broadly divided into two parts; Upper and Lower Dharamsala. Upper Dharamsala, also referred to as McLeodganj is the major tourist attraction, as it is more scenic and is home to the Dalai Lama and magnificent Buddhist hermitages. Lower Dharamsala, on the other hand, comprises the civic structures like educational institutions, offices, the bus station and hospitals.
This hilltop retreat, perched almost 1,500 metres above sea level is the abode of the holy Dalai Lama, and is a major pilgrimage for Buddhists (also referred to as the ‘Little Lhasa’), as it houses several monasteries, including the Tsuglagkhang Complex where Dalai Lama resides, and Namgyal monastery, which is one of the most important Buddhist temples in India. Dharamsala owes most of its air of tranquillity to the Buddhist culture that prevails here, and it’s hard to miss in the many monasteries that dot the town.
Dharamsala has pleasant weather conditions through the summer months, sees heavy rains during monsoon and snowfall in winters. If you are looking to beat the scorching summer heat, then March to about mid-July is just the time to go. Summer months are perfect for a trip to the hills when the temperatures range somewhere between 22°C and 35°C. It’s also the ideal time for trekking tours on scenic trails dotted with flowers in full bloom. Most tourists prefer going to Dharamsala at this time so it’s also the most crowded. It’s a good idea to plan your trip around the Buddhist Losar Festival that takes place in February or March.
Here’s the list of thebest places you must visit in Dharamsala.
With an average elevation of 2,082 meters above sea level, McLeod Ganj is named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod who was the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab under whom the area was developed. 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 Dharamsala and is famous for its Tibetan culture, handicrafts and temples. The Hanuman Tibba is the highest peak at the height of 5,639 meters above sea level and can be viewed from McLeod Ganj.
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 Trigata mentioned in the Hindu Epics Ramayana and Mahabharatha 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.
Masrur 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 Lakshamana from the oldest Hindu epic, Ramayana.
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.
Namgyal Monastery was established by the 3rd Dalai Lama in 1575 and was relocated to Dharamsala following the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The monastery is one of the major learning and cultural centers of the Tibetan populated in Dharamsala. The monastery currently houses around 200 Tibetan monks and is one of the most frequented places in Dharamsala.
Being renowned in the world for its distinctive blend of the Kangra and Tibetan culture, Dharamsala is one of the most frequented tourist places in India. The place is also famous for its amazing views it is also nicknamed as ‘Little Lhasa’ due to the huge number of Tibetan settlements located here. The above-mentioned places are few of the most popular tourist places in Dharamsala and are a must visit.
Dal Lake (of Dharamsala)
The Dal Lake in Dharamsala 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.