Home » Dharamshala Travel Guide: It has always been amazing

Dharamshala Travel Guide: It has always been amazing

by Vivek Singh
Dharamshala Travel Guide


Dharamshala or Dharamsala is a city in northern India. It is the winter place of the government of the state of Himachal Pradesh and the district headquarters of the Kangra district. It was previously known as Bhagsu.

McLeodGanj a village within the Dharamshala municipality, is the home of the current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso and the exiled Tibetan government.

The Tibetan Buddhist roots of Dharamsala can be traced back to the 8th century, although most of the local population has long since reverted to (and remains) Hindu. “Dharamsala” literally means an “inn attached to a temple”, and it was so until the district headquarters in Kangra became too crammed and the British moved 2 of their squads in the late 1840s to what is now Dharamsala. Over the years, this became the district headquarters of Kangra, and that exact location is now known as the Police Lines.

Dharamsala was supposed to be the summer capital of India. But this plan did not work as much of the town was destroyed in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of 4th April 1905. The disaster killed over 10,000 people in this sparsely occupied area and this place fell into dimness in the early days of Indian independence, Dharamsala regained some social standing in 1959 with the arrival of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile  Currently, it is a very well-liked hang-out for foreigners and students of Buddhism. Indeed, it is now perhaps a little also popular and many would say the town, and especially McLeod Ganj is little more than a traveler destination.

Lower Dharamsala, homes most of the government offices, schools, the local Hospital, and commercial areas. It also has a few tea gardens.

Upper Dharamsala, known more generally as McLeod Ganj is named after David McLeod the once the British Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab. It is home to the Tibetan community and the center of tourist activity. Unless specifically stated, all listings in this article refer to McLeod Ganj.


Lower Dharamsala is at an altitude of 1,400 m, while McLeod Ganj is at around 1,750 m, making them noticeably cooler than the plains below. Temperatures in January can plunge below freezing, while June can go up to 38°C. The monsoon season from July to September is very wet.

Reaching Dharamshala

By Air
Gaggal is the nearest airport within a distance of 15 km from McLeodganj by road on MDR44 and NH20. The airport has been recently developed and the tourists can avail flights twice a day. Sometimes you may get a break with respect to Air tickets because of cancellation.
By bus
Most of the tourists come to Dharamsala by bus. It has good connections with other parts of North India, although the journeys are often time taking due to the narrow zigzag roads in the hills. The main bus terminal is in Lower Dharamsala, but some public HRTC buses to Delhi and Pathankot ply from the main square of McLeod Ganj, where you can also have advance tickets for the return trip. Unreserved HRTC buses from Pathankot cost Rs 75 and take 3/4 hours to Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj. Private bus companies are available for travel from Manali, Dehradun, and Delhi. Overnight buses operate from Delhi with many leaving from the Tibetan colony of Majnu ka Tilla. This 13-hour journey costs Rs 450 for a basic bus to Rs 940 for a plusher Volvo.By train
The nearest broad gauge rail station is at Pathankot and the neighboring small station of Chakki Bank, it is a real comfortable overnight journey from Delhi. The  Kangra Valley Railway to Kangra journey is tremendously slow that easily takes up to 6 hours and still leaves you 18 km from McLeod Ganj.  This is the reason that the tourists prefer the bus journeys,

By taxi
A taxi from Pathankot to McLeod Ganj, a distance of 88 km, takes about 3 hours, and the stipulated fare from Pathankot is Rs 1,300 (return). However, the asking rate is always Rs 1,600 and you can negotiate to around Rs 1,450 ( 50 rs is probably charged as a toll ). This is December 2011 rate for a small car ( Indica ).
Taxis from Delhi are frequently available leaving from Majnu Ki Tila Tibetan settlement in North Delhi on the ring road. Many people take a taxi to Delhi which takes about 10 hours and pay the return fare to get rid of the hassle of the bus journey.

Tourist attractions

Masrur (or Masroor): The major attraction of this place is the fifteen skillfully carved colossal rock temples dating back to the 8th century. The carvings of these temples are comparable to the Kailash temple at Ellora. In the workroom of the main temple, one can find images of Lord Ram,

Bhagsu Waterfall: This waterfall is situated at Bhagsu, 2 km from McLeodganj. It lies behind the Bhagsunag Temple. During Monsoon, the fall turns into a 30 feet cascade.

Bhagsunag Temple: Temple of the God Shiva has situated around 2 km from McLeodganj Bazaar. Constructed around the 18th century and then worshipped majorly Dharamshala. Very next to Bhagsunag temple is a waterfall, one of the chief tourist attraction spot in Dharamshala.

Art Gallery
Naam Art Gallery is a well-liked tourist spot situated in McLeodganj city. There are various paintings and exhibitions on display in this art gallery. These paintings are works of the renowned German painter Elsbeth Buschmann and English painter A.W. Hallett. It is situated in Sidhbari village, which is on the main Dalhousie-Chamunda Road.

Kangra Museum: It is situated close to the bus stand, Kangra Art Museum is an exclusive museum displaying the artifacts of Tibetan and Buddhist cultures. This is a treasure of Kangra valley’s cultural past, crafts, arts, and other ancient artifacts. Some of the displayed items in the museum belong to the 5th century. Kangra Museum consists a gallery of miniature paintings of Kangra’s rich past, pottery, rare coin memorabilia, sculptures, and anthropological materials. It has a varied collection of jewelry of a range of tribes, elaborate costumes, and wood carvings. A section dedicated to current artworks adds attraction to the museum. Tourists can easily reach by bus or taxi and it will take 30 minutes to one hour to see the museum.

Kunal Pathri Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kalpeshwari and is located 3 km from the Kotwali Bazaar. It’s supposed that a part of Goddess Sati, skull, fell here when Lord Shiva was carrying the charred body of the Goddess, hence the name of the temple.

Chamunda Temple: This temple is around 15 km from Dharamshala on the right bank of river Baner on the Mandi-Pathankot highway. According to legends, Goddess Kali killed the demons, Chand and Mund, at this place.

Dal Lake: The Lake is spread in an area of 1 km and is bounded by rhododendrons, deodars, and junipers forest. Annually, a fair is held at the Kali Temple near the Lake. There is another temple close to the lake that is devoted to sage Durvasa.

Triund: It is a trekking destination in the foothills of Dhauladhar and is around 17 km from Dharamshala and offers magnificent views of the mountains and valleys.

Naddi: This picturesque picnic spot is located 5 km northwest of McLeodGanj. Naddi presents a spectacular view of the Kangra valley. You can trek to Kareri Lake, Triund, and Guna Devi from here. It’s also becoming a well-liked travel target for nature lovers.

Tsuglagkhang Complex, Temple: This is the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet, and it has a large meditation hall containing some beautiful statues and thangkas, as well as a Kalachakra temple with gorgeous murals. It is the monastery of the Dalai Lama and is located just in front of his residence. On the basement level of the complex, you will also find the Namgyal Cafe, serving as a work-training center for Tibetan youth.

Tibet Museum, (opp. Tsuglagkhang) It is open to the audience on   Thursday-Sunday 9 AM-5 PM. This small but interesting museum on the history of Tibet and its people is quite popular.

Bhagsunag Fall, (around 11 km from the Dharamshala, it is easily accessible by road from Mcleodganj). Bhagsunag fall has many waterfalls, an ancient temple, numerous slate quarries, and a freshwater spring.

Kunal Pathari, Temple  ( 3 km from the Dharamshala.). Religious people come to this temple every day to pray to the Goddess.

Dharamkot, (around 14 km from Dharamshala.). This is an ideal place for a picnic near Dharamshala and is situated in the Himalayan mountain range giving an astonishing view of the surroundings.


Hotel Eagle’s Nest is an ideal spot for center-based trekking, walking and visiting local sights, and it will facilitate your joining yoga classes or visiting the ashrams. Room tariff INR 3000/- to INR 4000/-

Hotel Anand Palace is a modern and relaxed hotel, newly built and within walking distance of Mcleod Ganj and you are definite to be offered striking views of the snow-capped mountains and conveniently you will find the attractively furnished room has an attached bathroom, telephone, satellite TV. The room tariff varies from INR 1488 to INR 4058/-

Hotel Sahil Plaza can offer the very finest in accommodation for you and your family for your stay in the Dharamsala. Room tariff INR 900/- to INR 1600/-

Hotel Spring Valley: The hotel has 23 elegantly selected rooms and suites.  Deluxe rooms and suites provide the luxury of extensive terraces in front. Room tariffs range from INR 1188/- to INR 2475/-

Hotel Him Queen invites you into the ideal world of luxury, warmth, and tailored-made service during whether your purpose of stay is business or just leisure. Room tariff varies from INR 728/- to INR 2288/-

Madhavan Holiday Resort is the oldest resort in Bhagsunag with the latest renovation. It is an ideal choice for couples on honeymoon trips, for a family holiday,s and also for adventure lovers. INR 728/- to INR 2288/-

Surya Resorts is, thus the place from where one gets ready to experience the great hilly grandeur and savor the beauty, the sights, and the sounds of Dharamshala, which pulsates with Tibetan & Indian culture. The room tariff range from INR 2550/- to INR 4560/-

White Haven Estate is situated at Dharamshala at an altitude of 4500 feet (1500m) above sea level, in the gorgeous Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. White Haven Estate is surrounded by its Tea gardens and private forests and the room rent varies from INR 728/- to INR 2288/-

You can take an easy walk down Bhagsu Road then walk up  1 km up to the waterfall itself. Visitors are told not to venture further, the path to the waterfall is in reasonable shape, except for the final 50 Meters which is definitely devious, especially in greasy weather. You should take care while taking bath in the upper pool.

Triund: you can very well climb the hill beyond Dharamkot to Triund. It gives you a beautiful view of the first peaks of the Himalayas and an extensive view over the plains. You make sure to wear sturdy shoes, carry water, some food if you and an extra vest or coat. At the top of it even in summer, the weather can change from hot and sunny into a small snowstorm very quickly. From there it’s a 3-hour climb to Triund. If you plan to stay overnight at Triund, there is a Forest Rest house (Rs 500 per night). Take along your personal double bedsheet but be aware there is no running water or electricity.

Meeting the Dalai Lama

Meeting (or at least getting to see) the Dalai Lama is the dream of a life span for many people, a concentrated spiritual occurrence for Buddhists, and an unforgettable moment for people of other faiths. It’s also very difficult to pull off, so don’t plan on it. It requires a good deal of luck.

Shopping in the ambiance of spirituality

When you are in the spiritual capital of the world Dharamsala, the Buddhist teachings form an essential part of your life. Yoga and meditation is natural individual growth processes. Special ecological travel-friendly meditation cushions, rugs can be found here. The ‘Chuba’ appears as early as the 8th century, originating in Central Asia, it traveled east as far as Japan where it was turned to long, wide sleeves and became the kimono. In Tibet, it remained appropriate for riding on horseback and walking over high passes.
Make your holiday stay more thrilling by visiting any of the Himachali Handicraft stores to find designer dhurries, carpets, Handwoven Shawls & Pattus, Home interiors, and environment-friendly green shops. Last, not least do not forget the exclusive delicate taste of Kangra Green leaf Tea.

Much more Oriental and spiritual attractions

Yoga, meditation, healing
Lessons are provided with respect to Ashtanga (Mysore style), dynamic Hatha, and Sivananda yoga, with yoga healing techniques and teacher training. Non-residential meditation and reiki courses are available and these types of crash courses are perfect for beginners.
Asia Institute, Bhagsu Village. Courses in ayurvedic nutrition and tai-chi. are imparted. Buddha Hall
Short Courses in reiki (I, II, III, and master) as well as tarot and crystal healing from Buddha hall in Bagsu. are imparted.
Kailash School of Yoga & Holistic Healing,  Ashtanga Vinyasa, and tribal hatha yoga classes are available daily to everyone along with treatments and sessions in reiki, ayurvedic massage, meditation, and ‘sound healing’ are carried out.Tushita Meditation Centre It is a 10-day course which is an introduction to Buddhism/meditation is held here, silence is held most of the day but there are also groups meditation sessions after philosophy lessons.. The total course fee starts at INR 4800/-

Vipassana, (near Dharamkot). It is a  10 days meditation course. You need to register in advance online.  The course will teach you the process of  Vipassana You have to be completely silent, and you are provided 2 meals and a very light dinner. The course is free, but you can leave a donation if you please.

You may also like

Leave a Comment