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.
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 It also houses an awe-inspiring collection of Tibetan art, historical documents, manuscripts, artifacts, handicrafts, paintings etc.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 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 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.
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.
An enriching experience of embarking on a spiritual journey, trekking and meeting people from different parts of the world.
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.