Places to visit in Dharamshala

When you travel to Dharamshala, you will love to visit popular tourist spots and enjoy the local culture. Amongst other Things to do in Dharamshala, you can surely explore some of the best things to do in Dharamshala to make your trip a fulfilling one. On a trip to Dharamshala things to do can include exploring Dharamshala attractions and visiting the places of interest.

If luck permits, meeting the Dalai Lama will be an achievement as he barely meets a public audience and private audience bookings are made far in advance. Also, he travels quite often, so you must make sure he is in the town when you are visiting.

These are rock-cut temples lying 40km south of Kangra and are fifteen in number. They are richly carved in the Indo-Aryan style of architecture and date back to the 8th century. This ancient temple is one the best places to visit in Dharamshala for history and nature lovers. The temple is situated on a hill and consists of the idols of Ram, Sita and Lakshman. The snow-clad Dhauladhar Mountains give a breathtaking view of the site.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is situated next to the waterfall, 2km away from McLeod Ganj Bazar. One of the most ancient temples and most visited tourist places in Dharamshala, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

 

Bhagsu Waterfall, located near the Bhagsunath Temple, is a beautiful stream in this region. The waterfall has a fall of 30ft during the rains. This tourist spot is highlighted with decoration of slate graffiti on the side of the mountains where the waterfall is. The water from the waterfall enters the pool in the Bhagsunath temple where pilgrims take a holy bath. The waterfall is surrounded by pristine natural beauty.

Devoted to Goddess Kalpeshwari this temple is located at a distance of 3 km away from the Kotwali Bazaar. 

This temple is on the Mandi-Pathankot highway near the banks of river Baner and 15km away from Dharamshala. Mythological stories say that the demons Mund and Chand were killed by Goddess Kali here.

Devoted to Goddess Jwalamukhi, the Jwalamukhi Temple is located 30 km southwards of Kangra valley. The temple is famous for its natural flames which burn constantly without any fuel and is seen coming out from a rock side. These flames are worshipped as a token for the nine goddesses Mahalakshmi, Chandi, Ambika, Mahakali, Hinglaj, Saraswati, Unpurna, Bindhya Basni and Anji Devi.

This museum displays artefacts of Buddhist and Tibetan cultures, some of them dating back to the 5th century. Kangra Museum has a diverse collection of wood carvings, embroidered costumes, tribal jewellery, rare coins, pottery, anthropological materials and sculptures. Old carved doors, lintels, pandals, dresses and shamianas used by the royal locals are also displayed. This marvellous heritage dates back to 4th century BC. As one of the oldest forts in India and the largest fort in the Himalayas, this royal marvel of architecture was once the residence of the Royal family of Kangra.

The Norbulingka Institute houses The Losel Doll Museum which has the biggest assemblage of Losel Dolls which are handcrafted by monks.

One can visit Palampur which is a breathtaking hill station renowned for its tea plantations and deodar trees. Also called the tea capital of North India, the Palampur tea is internationally famous. One can paraglide or go for a trek here. Tourists can also shop for wooden and Tibetan handicrafts and carpets. One should definitely try out a popular local drink called Jhol which is made of rice water. 

It is a perfect summer tourist spot and one can see beautiful snow clad mountains along with green forests. Adventurous sports like snow skiing, river crossing and river rafting are popular. One can shop for pahadi paintings, hand-woven textiles and handicrafts made from wood. Ancient temples like the Chamundi Devi Temple and the Laxminarayan Temple which belongs to the 4th century can be visited.

A very prominent hill station Dalhousie is at a height of 8000 feet and has an area of 14 square km. It is spread over five hills and tourists enjoy trekking here. This hill station is well known for its pleasant climate and natural beauty.

Located at a height of 1230 metres Kullu is a collection of beautiful valleys. It is called the ‘Valley of Gods’ and lies between river Beas and the Himalayas. Honeymooners love visiting this place. Tourists can enjoy adventurous sports like mountaineering, hiking, trekking, paragliding and river rafting.

 

A famous destination for honeymooners Manali is at a height of 6398 ft. Manali is also called the twin sister of Kullu and is also known as the Valley of the Gods.Summer being the peak season in Manali, the tourists love the adventure sports offered here like angling, mountaineering, paragliding, trekking, skiing, rock climbing, and ice climbing and rappelling.

Mandi also called by the name ‘Varanasi of the East’ is located on the Beas river. This hill station is famous for its stone temples which are more than 81 in number and most of them being dedicated to Lord Shiva. The famous sport of this place is Bandy a type of ice hockey played only in the winter season. Trekking is also a common sport here.

The most scenic valley of the lower Himalayas, The Kangra valley is said to be more than 3500 years old. It is famous for its miniature paintings and magnificently designed shawls.

Located at a distance of 11 km from Dharmasala and a 2km walk from the McLeodGanj bazaar the Dal Lake circled with deodars and rhododendrons is spread around an area of 1 km. Every year a fair is held close to the lake at the Kali temple.

Nestled in the laps of the Dauladhar ranges and amidst verdant hills, McLeod Ganj is a beautiful hill station situated in the Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh at an elevated height of 6,831 feet. Steeped in Tibetan culture, it is also known as ‘Little Lhasa’ and is residence of the spiritual leader His Holiness Dalai Lama. Tourists from all over the world visit McLeod Ganj to experience the Tibetan culture, visit the monastery, study Buddhism, learn meditation and yoga, embark on a spiritual journey and enjoy the mesmerizing views, trekking and vibrant cafes.

 

Location

Himachal Pradesh

https://www.google.co.in/maps/place/McLeod+Ganj,+Dharamshala,+Himachal+Pradesh/@32.2450183,76.2980746,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x391b56d4e3d36d19:0xa3e8725f0584be76!8m2!3d32.2425758!4d76.3212781

 

Places to visit and things to do in McLeod Ganj

Tsuglagkhang

The Tsuglagkhang is a beautiful Tibetan temple adorned with a splendid gilded statue of Lord Buddha as well as statues of Chenrezig and Guru Rinpoche. This complex comprises of a monastery, museum, library, bookstore and a cafe. The Namgyal Monastery is the biggest Buddhist monastery outside Tibet and abode of His Holiness Dalai Lama. It was built in the 16th century and is home to nearly 200 monks who study Tibetan and English languages, texts of Sutra and Tantra, sacred arts, Buddhist philosophy, sand mandalas, meditation and ritual chanting. A significant place of worship, the atmosphere of the monastery brims with peace, serenity and divinity and attracts tourists and devotees from world wide who wish to experience the ambience. The museum built in the the unique Tibetan architecture introduces the visitors to the history of the Chinese intervention of Tibet and the consequent struggles and migration through photographs and interviews. It also houses an awe-inspiring collection of Tibetan art, historical documents, manuscripts, artifacts, handicrafts, paintings etc.  that can be admired and purchased.

Norbulinka Institute

Norbulinka Institute 15 km from McLeod Ganj and established in 1988 is a cultural center aimed at fostering and preserving the Tibetan arts and culture. Developed by His Holiness Dalai Lama as a center for the continuation and training of traditional Tibetan arts and crafts, it is a fascinating place reflecting beautiful Tibetan architecture. Here one can witness artisans working on woodcarving, metal statue-making, thangka painting and embroidery. The institute produces high-quality art objects, clothing, accessories and home furnishings. The institute has several buildings ornately decorated with one building in the complex showcasing the creation of the institute using traditional techniques through a photographic exhibition. The complex also has a scenic koi pond, bridges and Japanese styled garden. The Norbulinka institute has a Losel Doll Museum which has beautiful dolls depicting the Tibetan cultures and livelihoods and are for sale.

Bhagsu

Bhagsu is a quaint village 3km from McLeod Ganj popular for the Bhagsu Falls and Bhagsunath temple. The Bhagsunath temple built by King Bhagsu is a majestically beautiful ancient temple and an important pilgrimage site situated at an elevated altitude of 1,770 meters above sea level. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and and the local deity Bhagsu Nag, the shrine is revered by devotees who visit to worship and feel at peace. The pools around the Bhagsunath Temple are believed to be sacred and contain healing powers. The temple is surrounded by serene nature and exudes an air of spirituality.

About 500 meters away from the temple is the enchanting Bhagsu Falls that starts from the base of the Dauladhar valley and cascades from a height of 20 meters. The waterfall is absolutely stunning during the monsoons when it gushes down from 30 meters and is a phenomenal sight to behold. The fall is an ideal picnic spot and is lined with cafes which tourist visit to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the mesmerizing fall and the surrounding picturesque view of lush greenery.

Trekking

A trekkers paradise, several trekking trails originate from McLeod Ganj such as Triund,  Bhagsu Trek, Kareri River Trek,  the Indrahar Pass Trek, Kangra Valley Trek and Guna Devi Temple Trek. Triund is the most popular trek with an easy 9km long trail amongst rocky terrains and Rhododendron and Oak forest and scenic views. One can also camp overnight here under the brilliantly star lit sky. The Indrahar pass trek is an exhilarating moderately difficult trek with spectacular views of the majestic Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal mountain ranges and sacred peaks of Mani Mahesh Kailash. The trek passes through dense deodar and rhododendron forests and one can encounter wildlife such as wild goats and leopards. The Kareri Lake trek takes place at a high altitude of 9,629 feet above sea level and trekkers can camp overnight at the banks of the lake. Between December to April the lake gets frozen. The Kangra Valley trek is a delightful simple trek that passes through Kareri lake, old temples and lush verdant valleys.  Guna Devi trek is a simple trek through the lush deodar forests to the Guna Devi temple. Bhagsu trek is a 12km thrilling trek that commences from McLeod Ganj and trails through Dharamkot, Galu, and Naddi Village ending at the Bhagsu falls whilst offering spectacular views of the majestically imposing Dauladhar ranges.

The best time to visit is between September to June.  One can experience the city during summers or winters when temperatures drop and the city along with the mountain ranges glisten with snow.

 

 

Highlight

  1. McLeod Ganj is a simple town inhabited with Tibetans and monks and offers the opportunity to explore the Tibetan culture and Buddhism.
  2. The St. John in the Wilderness Church built in 1852 is a church dedicated to John the Baptist and is on the way to McLeod Ganj. The Neo Gothic architecture and the Belgian stained-glass windows painted by an Italian artist fascinates the visitors along with the surrounding view of the lush deodar forest and mystical vibe. It is also the final resting place of Lord Ergin, governor general and viceroy of India during the British Raj.
  3. Dharamkot at a distance of 9km is a quaint village that attracts tourist from world over to experience the spellbinding views of the majestic Deodar forest, verdant landscapes, Kangra valley and Dhauladar ranges and the Vipassana Meditation Centre which offers peace and tranquility.
  4. Dal Lake located at a height of 1,775 meters above sea level is a calm and serene mesmerising lake eclipsed by majestic mountains and towering deodar, pine and oak trees. The green hued lake is an abode to variety of fishes that thrive here. In close proximity is a shrine of Lord Shiva that has strong religious significance amongst the locals.
  5. With the café culture being pretty strong here, McLeod Ganj is brimming with wonderful and vibrant cafes that one can visit and enjoy surrounded by natural beauty and warmth of the Tibetan culture.

 

Recommended For

An enriching experience of embarking on a spiritual journey, trekking and meeting people from different parts of the world.

 

How to get to McLeod Ganj

Flight: The nearest airport is Kanra Airport, Gaggal located at a distance of 30 km. A cab can be hired from there directly to McLeod Ganj

Train: The closest major station is Pathankot railway station at a distance of 90km. Another station is Kangra station at a distcance of 25km. A cab can be hired from there directly to McLeod Ganj

Road: Several private and state buses ply from major cities such as Delhi, Chandigarh and Dharamshala to McLeod Ganj. Private car and taxi can also be hired.

 

Interesting Facts About McLeod Ganj

 

  1. McLeod Ganj was named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab who founded it in 1848 as a summer retreat. The suffix Ganj is a common Hindi word for "neighbourhood".
  2. After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, fled to India with thousands of Namgyal monks and established the Namgyal Monastery in India.

It is an ashram of Late Swami Chinmayananda and located at a distance of 10km away from Dharamsala.This ashram houses a recreation centre, a school, a health centre, a meditation hall, a huge Rama temple and a nine-metre large idol of Lord Hanuman.

An ancient fort that is located 26 km from Pathankot and 66km from Dharamsala. It attained its name from Nurjahan, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir.

Gyuto Monastery is popular for its research on Buddhist Philosophy and Tantric rituals. This famous monastery was built in the memory of soldiers who died in Tibet Freedom War.

The Tsuglagkhang Complex is a religious centre and it was built when His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited India for the first time in 1959. The complex comprises of Dalai Lama’s abode and monastery. This is one of the best places to visit in Dharamsala and abode of Dalai Lama is one of the reasons why Dharamsala tourism is on everyone’s bucket list.

Located far away from the main town, Naddi is picturesque village enclosed by snow-clad Dhauladhar mountain ranges. It offers mesmerising views of mountains and stunning deodar forests.

Triund hill offers a stunning view of Dhauladhar Mountains on one side and Kangra Valley on the other side. The trek takes you through stunning forests and steep and stunning mountains.

Many tourists love antiques and souvenirs and one of the best things to do in Dharamshala is to shop at the Kotwali Bazaar. Everything from prayer flags, woollen shawls, prayer wheels, painting to Tibetan carpets can be found here.

McLeod Ganj is full of restaurants in all budget ranges that cater to the taste of all types of tourists. You could eat in restaurants such as Bhagsunag, Park, Zaika Taste of Himachal or Sharma’s Bakers. Carpe Diem on Jogibara Road offers international cuisines. Chocolate log offers cakes and pastries. The Common Ground Cafe is a place where one can have Taiwanese and fusion food. Dolma and Dorji serves excellent chai and banana bread.

 

The street vendors sell momos which are safe to eat. Tibetan beverages and food can be found in Dharamsala like Thupka which is a soup, momos, thenthuk which are handmade noodles and pocha which is a salty tea churned with butter.

The busiest shopping area of Dharamsala is the Kotwali Bazaar. A lot of traditional Tibetan souvenirs and artefacts can be found here like prayer flags, woollen shawls, thangkas, prayer wheels, mandala paintings, jewellery and trinkets along with Tibetan carpets. Some of the shops house Indian and Tibetan handicrafts like miniatures of Indian Gods and Buddha, brass statues, prayer mals made of stone and wooden beads, resin sculptures, Nepalese Khukuri, antique figures, Tibetan wall hangings, and Gemstone and crystal jewellery.

 

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