This is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 17 kms north- east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snowline is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill resort and it is possible to make a day’s trek to a snow-point after an early morning’s start. Dharamshala is also the headquarter of the Kangra district.
In 1905, tragedy struck Dharamshala when an earthquake leveled it completely. After its reconstruction, Dharamshala flourished as a quiet health resort. It is divided into two distinct parts. Lower Dharamshala has civil offices and business establishments with courts. Kotwali bazar and Upper Dharamshala comprise of places with names which bear witness to its history like McLeod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj. Since 1960, when it became a temporary headquarter of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Dharamshala has risen to international fame as “The Little Lhasa in India”. Mcleodganj is 9 km from Dharamshala.
In and around Dharamshala, one can visit the Kangra Art museum at Kotwali bazar, War memorial, Kunal Pathri temple and tea gardens on way to Kunal Pathri. There is also a beautiful Cricket stadium in the city facing mighty Dhauladhar.
Hindi, Punjabi, English and Pahari are understood and spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade
Max. 38 C in June; Min. 0 C in Jan.
Dharamshala Annual rainfall:
Varies between 290 cm to 380 cm second highest rainfall in the country.
Best season to visit
January to June; September to December. July-August is rainy season.
Winter: Heavy Woollens, Summer: Light Woollens and tropical
Dharamshala hills Major Attractions
The Tibetan Institute
The famous Norbulingka institute is the leading centre in providing Tibetan cultural and art education. The Institute aims at providing guidance to the Tibetan refugees in India about the culture, traditions, art and craft of Tibet. Built near Dharamshala, this is the replacement building of the original Norbulingka Institute in Tibet. It derives its name from the His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s beautiful summer residence, the Norbulingka (Jewel Garden), set in parkland two kilometers from Lhasa. Fearing for the future of Tibet’s cultural heritage, the Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso, established institute of arts and science there in 1754. Today, the Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala has taken the initiative to preserve the roots of Tibetan culture in exile. Only the students from Tibet are allowed to take admissions here. The complex houses three academies, namely:
The Centre for Arts
The Academy of Tibetan Culture
The Literary and Cultural Research Centre
McLeodganj is located at a distance of 9 km above Dharamshala. It is a charming Tibetan settlement with bustling markets that sell carpets, handicrafts and delicious Tibetan food. A giant prayer wheel ornaments a main street and in the monastery, a serene statue of the Lord Buddha presides over the gentle chanting of the monks.
War memorial, at the entry point of Dharamshala is erected in memory of the brave soldiers, who gave there life to protect India in various post-independence wars. There are some good cafes near War memorial, which serve good Tibetan and Indian fast foods.
Bhagsunath temple (11 km)
Known for the waterfall and small shrine, Bhagsunath is located in the vicinity of Dharamsala. Tourists can take a long sunny walk from the McLeodganj market to the Bhagsunath temple and waterfall.
Triund is a popular picnic and a trekking spot. Located at 17 km from Dharamshala, at an altitude of 2827 mts, it is a major trekking route in the area. One can start early morning to cover entire stretch. The snowline starts 5 kms from Triund and offers a breathtaking view of the snows above and the valley below.
Dharamkot ( 11 km)
A favorite viewing point, Dharamkot gives panoramic views of the Kangra valley and the Dhauladhar peaks. Tourist throng to Dharamkot for a picturesque view of the valley.
Dal Lake (11 km)
Dal Lake is a famous picnic spot located near Dharamsala. This is an enchanting and serene picnic spot surrounded by deodar trees. A famous tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh, Dal Lake offers a base for the trekkers.
Dharamshala Adventure Activities
Trekking & Rock Climbing
Dharamsala is known for the treks and rock climbing activities. There are number of tailor-made treks in Dharamsala and adjoining places. The most famous trek is from Dharamsala to the Chamba Valley, over the Indradhar pass that covers the height of 4350m. It is rated as the toughest trek and requires at max five days to complete it. In the category of easy treks, the treks between Mcleodganj and Dharamsala is considered to be the easiest. This is a 10 km treks covering areas like Bhagsu, Dharamkot and Triund. The best season for the trekking is between may and October.
Angling & Fishing
The nearby area of Dharamsala comprises of many small rivers and streams, that gives ample opportunity for angle fishing. The 20-km long stretch of river Beas between Nadaun and the Pong Dam offers abundance of opportunities in angling.
Shopping In Dharamsala
One can buy Tibetan rugs and handicraft products from the shop of the Tibetan Handicraft Centre and TCV Handicraft Centre in McLeod Gunj. Orders for Tibetan wood and metal craft products can be made at the Tibetan Art Gallery, located in the Hotel Tibet building complex. Besides, there are various tiny shops offering Tibetan trinkets and imitations of Tibetan antiques.
Staying is not a problem in Dharamsala, there are number of low and high budget hotels available. Hotel Tibet is one of the best hotels in Dharamsala offering Tibetan-style cuisine. Hotel Bhagsu in McLeod Gunj is run by the Himachal Travel Department. If you are planning a long and quite stay, you can rent houses from the local Indians around Tushita Meditation Centre.
How to Reach Dharamsala
By Air : The nearest airport is at Gaggal, which is situated at a distance of 13 km from Dharamsala connecting to Delhi, Kullu and Shimla. Jagson airlines flies at regular interval to Gaggal airport, however it totally depends on the weather condition. A private taxi can be hired from the airport to reach Dharamsala.
By Rail : The nearest railway station is Kangra Mandir, located at a distance of 22 km from Dharamsala. But the main broad-gauge railhead is at Pathankot (90 km). It is a twelve-hour trip from Delhi to Pathankot and then a four-hour bus or three-hour taxi ride to Dharamsala.
By Road : National Highway no.1 connects Dharamsala to Pathankot and Jalandhar. Dharamsala is also well connected by road to other places in Himachal Pradesh. Apart from this there are three main routes to Dharamsala: Delhi – Chandigarh – Dharamsala (510 km), Shimla -Manali – Palampur – Dharamsala Route (130 km) and Pathankot – Gaggal – Palampur route(105 km)