Dharamsala is famed as the holy abode of Tibetan Charismatic Leader Dalai Lama and houses the Tibetan Government in exile. Dharamsala is a synonym for Buddhism in India. Situated on the upper hilly terrains of Kangra valley and set against the scenic backdrop of exquisite Dhauladhar Mountains. The gorgeous city is distinctively divided as upper and lower divisions with two altitude ranges. Home to the Tibetan leader, this is the perfect place to learn about Buddhism and the Tibetan struggle for Freedom. The city is dominated by the Tibetan populace while still retaining the British fervor and English lifestyles. Numerous Buddhist Viharas or Gompas, presenting great cultural values and Tibetan architectures, are the main attractions of Dharamsala.
Dharamsala has a vibrant environment with dense green forests with Deodar trees and pine trees. Blessed with many clear and unpolluted streams it is an ideal retreat for nature lovers. This place has been renowned as one of the best picnic spots in India.
Kotwali Bazaar is a perfect shopping place where one can view the color and lifestyles of the entire Dharamsala community. The market is considered as the base camp for tourists’ travelling to upper Dharamsala. The tourists who love nature walks and trekking can stay in this base camp and explore the hilly forest regions.
PLACES TO VISIT
Kangra Art Museum:
This treasure trove of the Kangra valley's arts, crafts, and rich past, displays artifacts that date back to the 5th century. The museum also includes a gallery of Kangra's famous miniature paintings and a representative collection of sculptures, pottery, and anthropological items
Set amidst the pine groves is a war memorial, built on the entry point of the to Dharamsala to commemorate the post independence war heroes of Himachal Pradesh. A web of narrow paths and landscaped lawns lead towards this monument.
Surrounded by high and green Deodar trees is the lake, which fills a mountain bowl. Situated 11-kms away from the town, this lake is easily approachable by road and makes an enchanting and serene picnic spot.
St. John's Church:
One of the most poignant memories of the British Raj is the church of St. John, situated in the wilderness. This charmingly dressed stone church is located just 8-km from Dharamsala on the way to McLeod Ganj. Under the shade of Doedar branches, a memorial has been made over the body of the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died at Dharamsala in 1863.
Tatwani & Machhrial:
There are hot springs situated at Tatwani, 25-km from Dharamsala but on the way, at Machhrial, is a waterfall twice as big as the one near the Bhagsunath temple
The Shrine of Bhagsunath:
Just 11-km from the town center of Dharamsala is the ancient temple of Bhagsunath. There are many fresh water springs close to the temple, which are considered sacred by the Hindus.
These are the rock temples from which the place derives its name. Kunal pathri is a 3 kms flat walk from Kotwali Bazaar
Just 11-km away from Dharamsala, located on the crest of a hill lie this attractive picnic spot, which presents a panoramic view of the Kangra valley and Dauladhar ranges.
Just four kms from Dharamsala, Norbulinka was established to preserve and teach the ancient Tibetan arts. The shady paths, wooden bridges, small streams tiny water falls make this place look like heaven. Here one can watch the wooden carvings and the tangka paintings, golsithing and embroidery being done. The nunnery close to the institute is a place where women are taught the advanced levels of Buddhist philosophy
Just 10-km from the town is the tranquil ashram complex set up by the great exponent of the Gita--Swami Chinmayananda. Situated on the banks of Bindu Saras, the ashram includes a 9m high image of Hanuman, a Ram temple, a meditation hall, a school and a health & recreation center.
Situated just 13-kms away from Palampur, lies this dwelling place of artist S.Sobha Singh. It houses a gallery of some of his major works and a pottery center
Originally home of the semi-nomadic Gaddi tribe, McLeodganj is today the residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. This mid 19th century place was developed as a British Garrison. The place was developed as an important administrative point for the whole Kangra valley. Today the place has developed as headquarters of the exiled Tibetan Government. The impressive monastery has larger than life size images of Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avaloketeshwara.
Fifteen richly carved monolithic rock temples sculpted in the splendid style of the Kailash temple at Ellora and dating back to the 8th century are to be found at Masrur, just 15 km south of Kangra. Images of Ram Sita and Lakhsman can be found in the sanctum of the main temple
Set amidst a sylvan surrounding is a rest house, located in the cool depths of the pine grove. Surrounded by green open meadows and forests of tall oak & pine at a height of 3250m is situated the picturesque Kareri Lake, which is just 13-km from the rest house and 22- kms from Dharamsala.
Triund is a popular picnic spot at an height of 2827 m. The area is on the foothills of Dhauladhar range and is 17-kms from Dharamsala. The snow line starts at Ilaqua, which is five kms from Triund. The breathtaking views of the mountains and the valleys makes Triund an ideal picnic spot and trekking spot
On the way from Pathankot, 41-km from Dharamsala are the unique cave temples with a stalactite and stalagmites dedicated to Lord Shiva.
This place is famous for the wall paintings and the temples. Sujanpur Tira also has fort, which is worth visiting. It is 8- km from Dharamsala and in particular the festival of Holi is a major event here and attracts many visitors to this area.
Dedicated to the "Goddess of Light", the temple is one of the most popular Hindu temples in northern India. In this temple there is a copper pipe through which natural gas comes out, the priest of the temple lights this and the blue flame emanating is worshipped as the manifestation of Goddess. The temple is topped by a golden spire, a gift from the Emperor Akbar. The famous temple of Jwalamukhi is 30-km. from Kangra and 56-km from Dharamshala.
Not so far from the town is the famous temple with the majestic Dhaulandhars as a backdrop. It is an enchanting spot with glorious views of the mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahala forests.
Named after Nurjehan the consort of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir, it has an ancient fort and an exquisitely carved Krishna temple. Nurpur is also famous for its fine Pashmina shawls and textiles.
HOW TO GET HERE
Nearest railway station is Kangra Mandir at a distance of 22 km from Dharamsala. All trains won’t stop here. The major rail junction is Pathankot, which is about 85 km away from Dharamsala. Pathakot is well connected to all major cities in India.
Gaggal airport (also known as Dharamsala airport) in Kangra valley is the nearest airport. The airport is 15 km away from Dharamsala, which costs about Rs 350 by Taxi cab. This airport connects domestic flights to Delhi. International travelers have to connect through Delhi Airport, which is about 520 km away from Dharamsala. Delhi Airport is connected to all major cities in India and abroad.
Regular bus services are available in Dharamsala connecting the nearby cities. Direct private luxury buses are available from Delhi (520 km), costing about Rs 1600.