Bordered by colossal snow dressed peaks of the Dhauladhar ranges of the Himalayas and engulfed in a thick cover of deodar trees, Dharamshala is a scenic city in the gorgeous state of Himachal Pradesh. With its luxuriant hills, sparkling waterfalls, pristine lakes and jaw-dropping vistas, Dharamshala is indeed a nature lover's paradise. Its rich Tibetan culture and heritage that can be witnessed in its colorful and vibrant monasteries, coupled with its authentic Tibetan cuisine, make this picturesque town a doppelganger of the spectacularly beautiful Tibetan plateau.
The Tsuglagkhang Complex, famous for being the official home of the 14th Dalai Lama, reflects the city’s rich Tibetan character and is a picture of absolute peace. It is a major pilgrimage site for the exiled Tibetans. While the Tsuglagkhang Complex is an ideal place to get a rare glance into the culture and life of Tibetan monks and people, the Namgyal Monastery, popular for being the largest Tibetan Temple outside Tibet, is the perfect pit stop where you can get an enlightening educational tour of this rich and ancient culture. Another vibrant and spiritual monastery to visit in the Little Lhasa of India is the Gyuto Monastery. An ancient structure brimming with mysticism and tranquility, the Gyuto Monastery must be included in your travel itinerary if you want to know something about the sacred philosophies of Buddhism and tantric meditation.
In addition to being the hub of majestic Tibetan monasteries, Dharamshala is also home to a few hidden temples and churches that reflect the beliefs and faith of the native population, along with the and the town’s colonial history. Nestled amidst lush green forests and situated at a short distance from the main town, St. John in the wilderness church is one of the most important churches of Himachal Pradesh. Built in the neo-gothic style of architecture in 1852, and dedicated to John the Baptist, it is also the final resting place of Lord Elgin, one of the erstwhile Viceroys of British India.
India is the land of cricket and religion, and much of that is visible in Dharamshala. Surrounded by milky Himalayan peaks from all sides, the Dharamshala cricket stadium is the most beautiful and magnificent cricket stadium of India. If you are a cricket lover, is there a better way to watch your ‘Men in blue’ in action than in the awe-striking ambiance of the Himalayas?
The War Memorial situated near the Cricket Stadium offers you the opportunity to learn about those brave-hearts of Kangra who sacrificed their lives in the Indo-China War of 1962 and various other UN peacekeeping operations. One of the major attractions of Dharamshala is the mesmerizing Bhagsu Falls, situated in the upper regions in the town of Mcleodganj. The path to the waterfall is marked with stunning high Himalayan vistas, luxuriant landscapes and a famous temple, known as the Bhagsunath Temple.
It is believed by the locals that the waters in the two pools surrounding this peaceful sanctuary contain powers of miraculous healing. In addition to being a spiritual haven, Dharamshala, owing to its gleaming lakes, is also a photographer’s delight. Visit the Kareri Lake and revel in the surreal views of the Dhauladhar ranges, or plan a short picnic on the banks of the glittering Dal lake. Apart from this, Dharamshala is also an alluring destination for trekkers and adventure buffs. The delightful trek that starts from Mcleodganj or Dharamkot and ends at the majestic snowy site of Triund, is filled with adventure and excitement. Experienced travelers and hardcore trekkers can try the more daunting trek to the Indrahar pass.
There are also short but equally spellbinding treks to the nearby villages of Dharamkot and Naddi that are as exciting and filled with adventure.
Happen to be a history lover? Head to the Kangra Fort and explore the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. At the sprawling Kangra Art Museum Dharamshala, you come face to face with several artefacts including ancient weapons, coins and sculptures.
From nature lovers and pilgrims traveling to this humble abode in search of spirituality to thrill seekers and history buffs, Dharamshala caters to the touristy needs of every traveler and therefore, it surely deserves a place in your travel bucket list. Moreover, this quaint land of Dalai Lama is also home to a plethora of colorful and high-spirited festivals such as the Tibetan festivals of Losar and Saka Dawa, the world renowned International Himalayan Festival and the jubilant Prashar and Dal fairs.