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Dharamsala Tourism And Travel Guide
20.5° C / 68.8° F
March to June
3 to 4 Days
Gaggal Airport (13 kms)
Pathankot Junction (85 kms)
Historically the winter capital of Himachal Pradesh, Dharamsala was first occupied by the British, displacing the nomadic Gaddis who originally inhabited the place. Since then Dharamsala has witnessed the rise of the Ghurkha Rifles and a century later the formation of the Tibetan Government in Exile. Today tourism in Dharamsala is known among travellers for its spiritual centres and the serene atmosphere that the cedar and oak filled forests lend to the mountain town. Read on to find out more form this brief Dharamsala travel guide.
How To Reach
You will notice that Dharamsala is split into two sections. The lower Dharamsala is at an altitude of about 4500 feet; this is where most buses and taxis that go to Dharamsala stop. Then, separated by the Ganchen Kyishong (The Government in Exile) at a height of over 6000 feet is McLeodGanj. There are car routes connecting both sections, and a long winding road for buses too.
The nearest airport is the Gaggal Airport that is about 13 kilometres from Dharamsala. Flights to and from Delhi are frequent here.
There are train services to Pathankot which is about 85 kilometres away from the city. From here you can easily hire a cab to your destination.
The NH503 connects Dharamsala to other major cities like Shimla, Delhi and Chandigarh. Additionally, there are state bus services from most parts of North India. In fact, certain buses from Chandigarh and Delhi go all the way up to McLeodGanj.
Best Time To Visit
The spring months of March and April and the post monsoon months of October and November have the best weather conditions. However, Dharamsala sees tourists almost throughout the year, because, at the high altitudes of Mcleodganj even during the peak of summer you will find the weather very pleasant. During winters tourists flock in to experience snow laden mountaintop. Monsoon season tends to be much quieter. So if you are looking for a quiet vacation then this is the time, but the heavy rains may disrupt road services.
Things To Do
If you love trekking, you will love Dharamsala. Climb up to the Triund summit, Dharamsala’s crown jewel and experience the stunning view of the Dhauladhar Mountains on one hand and the beautiful Kangra valley on the other. About 40 kilometres north of Dharamsala you will find the Kareri Lake; another trek route that is stunning and relatively off beat. The path to the lake is surrounded by beautiful Himalayan flora specimen.
St. John in The Wilderness:
Set amidst the deodar forest, this stone church will take you back to colonial times with its neo-gothic architecture and tainted glass windows.
Library of Tibetan Works Archives:
Home to over 80,000 books and manuscripts, the library is known to be the place to go for any material needed to study Tibet’s culture, politics, history and religion.
Buddhist Losar Fest:
Also known as the Tibetan New Year, the Losar fest is a fifteen day festival that happens in Dharamsala also. The fest falls during the month of February or March. Visit Dharamsala during this month to experience Tibetan culture in its depth.
The majestic Kangra Fort was built by the royal Rajput family and is probably one of the oldest forts in India. Visit the marvellous structure that resisted many attempts of capture with its long lines of sturdy stone walls and its luxurious interior.
Mcleodganj, popularly known as Little Lhasa, is your gateway to authentic Tibetan food! When you are there, make sure you taste the steamed and fried momos, thupkas, phingshas and the special bak choy soup. You will find stalls selling street food around the monasteries and markets.
Kotwali Bazaar: One of the most important places in lower Dharamsala, the bazaar not only provides daily necessities, but offers you exotic woolens, Tibetan traditional clothes, souvenirs and everything you are hoping to buy from the city on the mountain.
Tea Estates: Dharamsala is proud of its tea estates, fairly common in the Kangra valley. They produce both black and green tea in their gardens that have a unique aroma.