Gateway to Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala region is nestled in the Dhauladhar ranges of the Himalayas. The famous holiday destination is an amazing mix of snowy peaks, deodar and pine forests. Unlike the other hill stations of India, the topography of Dharamshala allows for easy access to the snow line of the Himalayas. This makes the region a perfect holiday destination for summers. Besides Dharamshala’s reputation as a major hill station in Himachal Pradesh, it is popular for another reason as well. People widely visit for its association with the Spiritual Guru Dalai Lama.
Mcleodganj or Upper Dharamshala is also known as Little Lhasa, mainly because of the inhabitation of a large number of Tibetans here. Tourists from different corners of the world spend time strolling in the bustling Tibetan market or munching in lip-smacking meals. An iconic church just below the market area, St. John in the Wilderness is another highly visited area of Mcleodganj. The old graveyard indeed adds to the picturesque panorama of the vicinity.
There are other spiritual shrines in Dharamshala like Bhagsunag Temple, Kunal Pathri, Tsechokling Gompa and Namgyal Monastery. Take a walk in the Tea Gardens for rejuvenation and freshness. Trekkers can make the most of their adventure by trekking to Triund, the jewel of Dharamshala. If you are looking for yoga and meditation, finding a centre for the same won’t be bothersome here.
This Dharamshala travel guide will provide with all the necessary information such as Dharamshala’s best time to visit, how to reach, shopping places, things to do, and some useful tips to help you plan your trip better.
Why visit Dharamshala?
Whether you are with your family, friends, or sweetheart, Dharamshala promises a good time to every kind of traveller. If you are a trekker, you are in for a treat at Dharamshala as it is home to many trekking trails that will allow you to explore the dense forests of oak, pine, and rhododendron. You can witness some of the most breathaking views of glaciers and waterfalls along the treks.
Dharamshala is the base for many great treks that leads you all the way up to the Chamba district. Some of the best treks around Dharamshala are Kareri Lake, Minkaini Pass, Shri Guna Devi Mandir, Bhagsu Nag, and Indrahar Pass.
Apart from this, Dharamshala is a great place if you are looking to escape the scorching summer heat. Visit here to relax and soothe your senses in the pleasant weather. In winters, this city is blanketed in fluffy snow and is truly a visual treat. Dharamshala is also an ideal place for honeymoon couples who want to spend quality time away from the city crowds, in peace and privacy.
This place is also the residence of His Holiness – the Dalai Lama – this stunning destination is not only popular amog tourists but also among spiritual seekers and religious travellers.
How to reach Dharamshala
Dharamshala can be reached by road, train, and air. There are several buses available from all the major cities of Himachal Pradesh to reach Dharamshala. Cities that are directly connected to Dharamshala via state buses include Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, and Delhi. To reach Dharamshala by train, Pathankot is the nearest railhead, located nearly 85 km away. You can take a flight to Gaggal Airport, which is well-connected to Delhi, Kullu, and Chandigarh. Taxis and buses are available from outside the railway station and airport to reach Dharamshala.
How to get around Dharamshala
Dharamshala does not have local buses and thus, people depend on inter-state buses for travelling. Most of the buses that connect other cities to Dharamshala have drop points that are major points of interest within Dharamshala. Auto-rickshaws and taxis are mostly used to move around the city. However, if you want to explore the city up close, then walking is the most preferred way. Dharamshala is a small town and you can easily walk around or trek to explore the famous tourist attractions.
Best time to visit Dharamshala
March to June is the best time to visit Dharamshala for trekkers and nature lovers. The weather during this time is pleasant and and let you indulge in thrilling activities like paragliding, ziplining, cable car riding, and camping. The temperature in summer in Dharamshala fluctuates between 20°C and 35°C. If you are looking to cosy up, December to February is the ideal time to visit Dharamshala. The weather is cold with temperatures ranging from 4°C to 7°C. Honeymooners and snow lovers can plan a trip to Dharamshala in the winters. Avoid monsoons as it brings great risks with heavy rainfall and landslides.
Places to visit in Dharamshala
Known for its mesmerizing backdrop, ancient monasteries, colourful temples, sparkling waterfalls, and pristine lakes, Dharamshala has plenty of attractions to see. To make your Dharamshala trip more fascinating, here are some of the best places to visit in Dharamshala -
- Kareri Dal Lake
- Gyuto Monastery
- Kangra Fort
- Kangra Art Museum
- Tsuglagkhang Complex
- Namgyal Monastery
- Bhagsuang Temple
- Masroor Rock Cut Temple
- Dharamsala Tea Company
- Nechung Monastery
- Tibetan Art Museum
Things to do in Dharamshala
In Dharamshala, there are a lot of fun activities to indulge in. From adventurous trekking to nature walks, you can get the best of thrill and relaxation. Take your loved ones with you and have a delightful experience in Dharamshala. Some of the best activities in Dharamshala to try for a memorable trip are -
- Triund Trek.
- Kareri Lake Trek.
- Day trip to Kangra Valley.
- Explore Kangra Fort.
- Spend time at Dal Lake.
- Meditate at Gyuto Monastery.
- Gorge on Tibetan food.
- Offer prayers at Jwalamukhi Devi Temple.
- Soak in the beauty of Bhagsu Waterfalls.
- Visit tea gardens.
- Explore Dharamshala War Memorial.
How many days are enough to visit Dharamshala?
2 days are sufficient to see the best of Dharamshala – tourist attractions, activities, and more.
Accommodation in Dharamshala
From budget-friendly to luxury hotels/resorts, there are a lot of places to stay in Dharamshala. Being one of the popular places to visit in Himachal, there are a variety of accommodation to choose from. The fare may vary from season to season, so keep an eye out for that. For a comfortable stay, here are some accommodations in Dharamshala with great amenities –
- Treebo Trend Roshan House
- Green Hotel
- Hotel Pine Spring
- D’Polo Club & Spa Resort
- Quartz Himalayan Brothers
- Hotel Dharamshala Paradise
Where to eat in Dharamshala
For a scrumptious meal, Dharamshala has many incredible places to eat. With great mountain views, your food experience will be memorable. During your trip, you must try the famous foods of Dharamshala including Carrot Cake, Bhagsu Cake, Tibetan bread, Thukpa & Thentuk, Momos, and more. Some of the top places to eat in Dharamshala are -
- Namgyal Café
- Crepe Pancake Hut
- Tibet Kitchen
- The Taste of India
- Peace Café
Shopping in Dharamshala
Shopping is a must thing to do in Dharamshala. There is so much variety to choose from in Dharamshala’s shopping markets. Some souvenirs and gifts you can buy in Dharamshala include prayer wheels, prayer flags, singing bowls, and other items of cultural and spiritual significance. Cloths with local embroidery and handmade items like jewellery, bags, purses, etc. are also a must buy. So, visit these markets and shop your heart out on a Dharamshala shopping tour -
- Divine Buddha Handicrafts
- Kotwali Bazaar
- Namgyal Book Shop
- Green Shop
- Jogibara Road Bazaar
- Shemshook Tibetan Handicraft
Useful Tips for Dharamshala Trip
- Wear heavy woollens in winters to protect yourself from the cold.
- If you wish to trek, take a sturdy pair of shoes.
- Carry a torch and a fully charged phone & power bank as there might be instances of electricity downtime.
- Summer is a peak tourist season. Therefore, it is advised to book your hotels, tickets, transport, etc. in advance.
- Check out weather conditions before travelling.
- Landslides are a possibility during monsoon. Therefore, have buffer time in hand.
- Use phone cases with thermal/water protection.