Whether you are on a solo journey to find inner peace, an adventurous backpacking rendezvous with your best friends or a romantic trip with your loved one, Dharamshala is sure to be the right pick off your bucket list this year. The hill town has blossomed into a paradise for the wandering heart and it also has some cultural gems that are unique to this part of the world.
Dharamshala is a scenic and panoramic hill station tucked in the upper reaches of the Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh and is placed at an average altitude of 1,475 meters above sea level.
The city is surrounded by a thick cover of deodar cedar trees and is one of the major strongholds for the Tibetan refugees and the seat of the 14th Dalai lama of the Tibetan sect of Buddhism. The town due to its picturesque surroundings and the presence of the Dalai Lama has made the town a popular tourist destination, both for the Indians and foreign tourists.
Now since you’re here, we understand that you at least have some interest in visiting the picturesque city of Dharamshala, we suggest that you also cover McLeodganj and its famous Triund Trek.
Facts About Dharamshala
Tie up your shoes and get ready for a culturally rich experience. Here are a few things to get you more excited for your trip to Dharamshala:
Have you always been fond of snow? If you do want to see what it feels like to make snow angels or snowmen or simply play snow fights, Dharamshala is the place for you to visit during the winter season.
Dharamshala International Film Festival or DIFF, the film festival is an annual event that brings together some of the industry stalwarts along with film screenings. The event takes place every year in November, so if you plan to make it to the film festival, you might want to accommodate it.
A trip to Dharamshala would be incomplete without a trek to one of the mountain ranges. Our favourite? The Triund Trek. Easy and enjoyable for both beginners and pros.
Places To Visit In Dharamshala In 2021
To make your trip to Dharamshala more fascinating and organized, here is a list of places to visit in Dharamshala. And don’t just visit them; take time to explore and discover their real beauty and charm. Check Them Out!
Famous for its various rock-cut temples that date back to the 8th century AD, Masrur is an archaeological place visited by the Pandavas, characters from the epic Mahabharata, who carved out these rock-cut temples that have brought reputation to Masrur.
Hence, tourists and pilgrims visit this beautiful series of temples from all over the world not only to offer their prayers but also to mesmerize looking at the beautiful architecture.
Though situated about 47 km from Dharamshala, it is a must-visit.
Kareri lake is best known for being a trekking destination in the Dhauladhars. However, the lake remains frozen from early December to March–April. Snow melting from the Dhauladhar range serves as the source of the lake and a stream named Nyund is the outflow. Since the source is fresh melting snow and the lake is shallow, water visibility is very high and in most places, the lake bed can be seen.
It’s not easily accessible by roads and therefore not a frequently visited site but its isolation has helped in its preservation. This location also serves as a base camp for trekkers moving towards the Dhauladhar range.
Silent and steeped in mythos, the Gyuto Monastery is an important point of interest in the town of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. If you keep your eyes, ears and mind open, you can find out more about Tibetan culture and heritage, including facets and stories that cannot be heard anywhere else.
One of the oldest and most important monasteries, Gyuto Monastery was established by the disciple of the first Dalai Lama in 1474 in eastern Tibet. It was re-established near Dharamsala after the Chinese invaded Tibet and forced Tibetans to flee to India. It now houses over five hundred monks who reside here spending their time in meditation and learning Buddhism philosophy.
Kangra Fort is located 20 km from Dharamshala, on the outskirts of the town of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. It’s the largest fort in the Himalayas and, according to the Archaeological Survey of India, it is the 8th largest in the country, covering an area of 463 acres.
The Katoch rulers of Kangra belong to the lineage of the rulers of Trigarta mentioned in the Hindu Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and also in Alexander the Great’s war records. The fort complex contains several well-detailed halls and watchtowers along with a couple of temples that date back to the 9th century AD.
If you’re from Delhi, there’s a high chance that you’ve probably been to Majnu Ka Tilla, but we all know that the Tibetan culture’s appeal isn’t limited to its cuisine. There is no better place to take a glimpse at Tibetan culture than Tsuglagkhang Complex. This place is the official home of the 14th Dalai Lama and is the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet.
The architecture is outwardly functional but there's much inside to intrigue. At around 1.30 PM (except on Sundays) you can watch monks in lively debate in the central courtyard beneath high, expo-style canvas shades.
Don’t forget to visit the Namgyal Cafe while you’re there and pay your respects at the Buddhist shrine.
Now that you’ve covered some great tourist attractions of Dharamshala, it’s time for some adventure.
Speaking of adventure, consider this. If you haven’t been to Mcleod Ganj when in Dharamshala, you haven’t been to Dharamshala.
With an average elevation of 2,082 meters above sea level, McLeod Ganj is named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod who was the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab under whom the area was developed.
With yummy cafes and beautiful roads, make sure to go on an evening walk with your loved ones in Mcleod Ganj. And if you’re the adventurous kinda couple, here are a few things not to miss.
Top Activities In Dharamsala
This place probably comes first in the minds of many when thinking about places to visit in Dharamshala. An easy Himalayan trek near Dharamshala, experience the breathtaking views of the Kangra valley and the snow-covered Dhauladhar ranges. Triund is the ideal destination for those seeking a hassle-free taste of trekking in the Himalayas. The trek can easily be done over a weekend.
However, rains in that area are unpredictable and can happen almost every day. We recommend calling and booking camping places in advance if you plan to do that as covering the trek back and forth in a day might be exhausting if this is going to be your first trek.
A few essentials?
These waterproof off-road hiking shoes offer great ankle support (preventing common ankle injuries) while trekking. While the design is lightweight, the sole composition & design encourages resistance and grip.
Speaking of rains, a reusable raincoat is a carry-on must as well. This hiking rain poncho shelters you from a light shower when hiking. Quick to put on, it protects you from sudden showers, with or without a backpack.
Decathlon is the one-stop destination for all your quality sports and travel goods. We promise to accompany you to all your adventures in the form of gears for a more than satisfactory experience. From camping tents and sleeping bags to trekking shoes and backpacks, find all your travel requirements at Decathlon.
Dharamshala - Travel Tips
Here are a few things you should know before you set your journey to Dharamshala:
There is no best time of year to visit Dharamshala. It all depends on what you want weather-wise and what clothes you have.
January is the coldest month in Dharamshala, India, with an average high-temperature of 14.5°C (58.1°F) and an average low-temperature of 5.9°C (42.6°F).
From Dec-Feb it gets a lot colder and may even snow. Make sure to carry a lot of warm clothes and layer as much as you can.
Springtime is nice- especially April and May when it gets warmer but it also gets a bit busier at this time, especially with Indian travellers. Summer in Dharamshala is warm but they do get a monsoon season so keep this in mind.
This is why the summer months are perfect for a trip to the hills when the temperatures range somewhere between 22°C and 35°C. It's also the ideal time for trekking tours on scenic trails dotted with flowers in full bloom.
Lastly, always be respectful of the place you’re visiting. Do not litter. Try not to be too loud. Dress accordingly.