8 July, 2021 | Reccy Guide
The outstanding beauty of Himachal Pradesh has a few crowned spots, and Dharamshala stands as one of them. Veiled in the ethereal beauty of the Dhauladhar Range, Dharamshala attracts tourists from every corner of the planet each year. The Triund trek and the Kareri Lake Trek are two popular adventures from Dharamshala.The pristine landscape reflects the tranquility that one might find in this surreal destination. Divided into the Upper and Lower Dharamshala, the two places offer a vast range of items and experiences to fellow travelers.
Nestled within the boughs of alpine and cedar trees, Dharamshala stands high as the Winter Capital of Himachal Pradesh. At 1457 meters above sea level, Dharamshala offers a pretty warm summer climate and a comparatively colder winter climate. The temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius during May, which then sinks to 5 degrees Celsius during December. There are countless enthralling activities to participate in at Dharamshala, including unforgettable treks and nature hikes. Popularized as the “Little Lhasa of India,” Dharamshala hosts the ethereal beauty of the Himalayas sprinkled with the Tibetan Culture. The solemn, sublime ambiance of this place is a hub for pilgrims as they flock to see the current home of the 14th Dalai Lama. Dharamshala is scattered with hundreds of beautiful monasteries that lie in the welcoming embrace of Himalayan beauty.
Dharamshala is positioned at 1457 meters above sea level and is separated into two regions. The upper part of Dharamshala has a colder climate, also known as McleodGanj. The lower half is a thronging town, swarmed with markets, eateries, and the cacophony of the locals. The summers can get quite hot here, with temperatures rising to 40 degrees Celsius, whereas the temperature can dip to 5 degrees Celsius in winters.
How to reach?
Dharamshala is the central hub for several adventure activities across Himachal Pradesh and other North-Indian regions. There are multiple options for reaching this scenic destination nestled within Himachal Pradesh. If you plan on reaching Dharamshala by the road, you can take state transport buses or the privately-operated luxury Volvo semi-sleeper and sleeper buses that regularly commute from New Delhi, Shimla, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Chandigarh, and Manali. You can reach these major North-Indian cities via various transport means. Alternatively, you can take a self-drive rental or hire a taxi from the Kangra airport at Gaggal and enjoy breathtaking views during the car ride.
Reaching Dharamshala by railroad comprises various options. You can take the classic choice of boarding the train from Delhi NCR and reach Pathankot railway station in Punjab that lies closest to Dharamshala. There is an overnight train service between Delhi and Pathankot railway stations. Once you reach Pathankot, you can hire a cab to reach Dharamshala, which lies at a distance of 85 to 90 kilometers. You can partake in more adventurous and exciting activities by hopping on to the narrow-gauge Kangra Valley railway. The Kangra Queen Toy Train takes you across a breathtaking journey from Pathankot to Jogindernagar, with panoramic vistas of the Dhauladhar, Nurpur Hills, Kangra fort, etc., in your way. From Jogindernagar, you can either hire a cab or take a state transport bus to reach Dharamshala.
The nearest airport of Dharamshala is the Kangra Airport situated at Gaggal, just 12 kilometers from the hub. But the Kangra airport is tiny, and the infrastructure is quite backdated, with a handling capacity of just 100 passengers. However, there are connecting flights from major Indian cities like New Delhi, Chandigarh, etc. You can reach these cities from anywhere and take the connecting flight to Gaggal.
Where to stay?
Dharamshala is one of the emerging and most popular destinations in Himachal Pradesh and North India as a whole. Thus, there have been several new accommodation options that have come up in and around Dharamshala over the recent years. You can stay in budget-friendly accommodations like backpackers’ hostels, homestays, budget guesthouses, and hotels that provide you with fundamental amenities. Alternatively, you can go luxe and stay in boutique hotels and resorts with breathtaking views and beautiful facilities. The price of accommodation will vary depending upon your choice of stay. It might range from USD 10 (INR 750) per night to USD 100 (INR 7500) per night of your Dharamshala stay. There are pricier options as well.
Lower Dharamshala is filled with bumbling, bustling markets selling various items to visitors. The Kotwali Bazaar is one of the most popular markets here, selling a variety of items like Tibetan rugs, clothing, antiques, and souvenirs. The shawls and the woolen garments are the hot cakes of this market.
If you are in the mood to explore the vibrant Tibetan culture present in Dharamshala, the Tibetan Handicraft Centre is the place you should go to. The Divine Buddha Handicrafts is the hot spot for Buddhist arts and crafts. Here you can find several stunning items like crystal jewelry, brass statues, sculptures made out of resin, stone, wooden beads, etc. The Village Boutique is another great place that offers decorative items to use for decorating your home.
There are a myriad of places to visit in Dharamshala. As the current abode of the Dalai Lama, Tsunglagkhang stands atop the list here. This serene town is located 10km uphill from McLeod Ganj and is known for its soothing ambiance. St John in the Wilderness Church is another popular attraction here, built in the 10th century in honor of Saint John the Baptist.
When it comes to natural attractions, the Bhagsu Falls is a top-rated destination, offering a surreal view of the Kangra Valley. The Bhagsunag Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located close to the waterfall. Triund is another spectacular spot to visit here, located in the Dhauladhar Range. But if you want to truly experience the majestic beauty of Dharamshala, you can do so by embarking on an enthralling Trek, like the Kareri Lake Trek.