🌄 Dharamshala – An Exquisite Spiritual Retreat¶
‘Dharamshala’- a spiritual dwelling, is a North Indian town perched in the shadow of the Dhauladhar range in the foothills of the Himalayas. Dharamshala has everything for a perfect holiday; a destination with serene beautiful views points, retaining British flavor and colonial lifestyle, heart of Tibetan community as well as Indian spiritual traditions, is very popular hang-out destinations for both national and international tourists.
The best time to visit Dharamshala is from March to July and again from September to November. The months of December through mid-March are the coolest months, with temperature dipping to single digits.
To get to Dharamshala, you can take a domestic flight from Delhi to Ghaggal airport in Kangra. Alternatively, you could board a train that takes you to Pathankot, then hop on a toy train that chugs through a scenic route on the way to Kangra. From Kangra, you can either drive up to Dharamshala in a hired taxi or get in a public bus. You can also board a public or volvo bus and travel directly from Delhi via Chandigarh to Dharamshala.
Once you reach, you can get around Dharamshala by choosing any of the options. Public buses to and from Dharamshala station leave regularly. One can also hire auto-rickshaws and taxis for local sightseeing. Motorcycle rentals can be found in a few of the tourist booking shops in McLeod. If you love to walk, you can also explore some parts of the town on foot also.
Things to do in Dharamshala:¶
Spiritual healing & Meditation: Dharamshala - McLeodganj has earned a reputation in recent years, nationally and internationally, as the center for meditation and spiritual healing. There are several ashrams and yoga centers that are run by NGOs and well-known spiritual organizations. Thousands of foreigners and Indians visit Dharamshala every year for spiritual healing.
Sight Seeing: Dharamshala has a lot of attractions and natural scenery to offer; like vibrant monasteries, colorful temples, waterfalls, stunning lakes, vintage forts & museums.
- Dharamshala has magnificent and quaint monasteries that have preserved Buddhist and Tibetan culture. Some monasteries one must visit are Tsuglagkhang Complex, Namgyal Monastery, Gyuto Monastery, Norbulingka Institute.
- Dharamshala abodes several temples to immerse you in spirituality. Some of the must-visit temples in Dharamshala are: Bhagsunag Temple, Kalachakra Temple, Aghanjar Mahadev Temple, Jwala Devi temple, Masroor Temple, Bajreshwari Temple, Kaleshwar Mahadev temple.
- Bhagsu waterfall is one of the most beautiful locations in Dharamshala. It is peaceful, serene place and gives you a nice feel of nature throughout. Kareri Lake and Dal lake are one of the perfect spots among tourists to rejuvenate and relax; flanked by lush greenery and blooming trees.
- HPCA Stadium : One can also visit HPCA Stadium. While the stadium itself is beautiful, the views of snowclad peaks from the stadium galleries makes it more awesome.
Activities: There are a myriad of activities one can indulge in while holidaying in Dharamshala like paragliding, trekking, shopping in local market.
Among various adventurous activities hosted in the area, paragliding in Dharamshala has become a hot favorite among tourists. Indrunag is the take off point for paragliding which is 4 km far from Dharamshala Main Market. Landing point is 6 km down from the take off point. The time and duration of the flight depends on actual weather condition but most of paragliding trip takes 5 to 15 minutes to reach the landing point.
Other paragliding excursions usually take place in Bir, widely known as Paragliding Capital of India, is a small town surrounded by vast mountains on all sides which is approx. 70 kms from Dharamshala. Billing is the take off point and landing happens at Bir. Recommended to do paragliding here to revel with the silence of nature and get an aerial view of the ambience where India’s first ever Paragliding World Cup was hosted in October, 2015.
The breathtaking terrain of the rugged mountains of Dharamshala provide for a perfect platform for mountaineers, rock climbers and trekkers, who wish for some thrilling action. From easy meandering to muscle straining ascending and descending sections, trekking in Dharamshala is sure to provide you a variety of things to indulge into.
- Triund Trek is one of the most popular treks near Dharamshala. Triund hill is a beautiful mountain in the Dhauladhar ranges of Dharamshala. The height of Triund peak is about 2850 m, and the hill is about a 6 km uphill walk from Upper Dharamkot. Apart from the monsoon seasons of July, August, and the peak winters of January, February, Triund trek can be done around the year.Kareri Lake Trek is another famous trek. It’s a day’s trek from the beautiful village of Kareri. Kareri lake is a freshwater lake that is said to have the most gorgeous sceneries. The trek distance is around 26 KM (to and fro). Other treks that can be covered are: Dharamkot or Bhagsu to Dharamshala city, trek to Bhagsu Nag waterfall, Indrahar pass trek.
Apart from the gorgeous natural beauty, Dharamshala is quite famous for other items as well. You can buy some souvenirs and gifts from the local markets to carry the feeling and memories of Dharamshala to home with you. There are several shops and markets that sell items of Tibetan origins and commodities that are significant to the Himachali culture. Some of the items that can be bought that are unique to the area are: Singing bowls, Buddha statues, Prayer wheels and Prayer flags, Local Tibetan handicrafts and decorative knickknacks, Jewelry, Woolen handmade clothes, Books(on Tibetan culture and Buddhism),Kangra Tea. Kotwali Bazaar and Jogibara Road Bazaar are among famous markets.
Eateries and Cafes: One can find numerous food options in Dharamshala to savor and excite your taste buds and at the same time for satisfying your hunger in nominal prices. The diverse culture is clearly visible in the street food and the food being served at several cafes and restaurants here viz Tibetan, Asian, Continental cuisines are served at many cafes. One can also try famous Kangri Dham: a range of authentic traditional dishes. Some of the recommended cafes are:
- Illiterati Café is a perfect hangout place for book lovers and to find some peace. Inside the cafe a range of books are available. One can pick their favorite and enjoy it while sipping their coffee admiring the scenic view.
- Bakes ‘N’ Brews is a renowned cafe in Dharamshala. It is both a cafe and a bakery known for its coffee and good food. It is also known for its warm and homely feel.
- Tunna’s Café is a book café where you can sit and enjoy the view of mighty Himalayas, admire the azure blue sky, can sit for hours, and still never be bored, enjoying the beauty of Dharamshala sipping coffee and relish various munching options available.
- Morgan’s place is on a tiny hilltop with the view of the majestic mountains having both indoor and outdoor seating. They serve Israeli, European, Mexican, Italian and Tibetan cuisine.
- Shiva Café The blissful ambiance will take you into a trance, and you will be lost amidst the scenic beauty of the Bhagsu Nag Fall that lies in proximity, feeling relaxed. Enjoy the calmness and tranquility that this place emanates. With great music playing in the backdrop, you will experience a soothing sensation here. Delve onto the delicious Tibetan dishes available to satiate your hunger.
Accommodation: There are several options available for accommodation. One can book hotel rooms, resorts, homestays from any of the hotel booking sites. Several Airbnb options for homestays can also be found for more homely feeling and interaction with the locals.