Settled amidst dense green coniferous forests of Deodar cedar trees, lying in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh is an enticing hill station named as Dharamshala. The cheerful climate and mesmerizing scenic beauty of Dharamshala makes it a perfect holiday destination.
Besides the picturesque ambience, what has been attracting thousands of tourists from India as well as rest of the world to Dharamshala is the presence of Tibetan culture here. Dharamshala has gained much more popularity ever since the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzing Gyatso moved from Tibet to this place in 1959. Later, Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan exile administration) was also moved to this town in 1960. Dharamshala is also a home to a lot of students studying Tibet.
Major attractions in Dharamshala
- Dal Lake – Situated in the middle of thick Deodar forest, the serene and romantic surroundings of the Dal Lake is a major attraction for couples visiting Dharamshala. It is at a distance of 2 kilometers from McLeodganj Market at an altitude of 1,775 m. The lake is also the base camp for various trekking excursions so a must visit place for those who are fond of adventure. There is also a popular temple of Lord Shiva situated on its banks.
- Bhagsunag Falls – Having the famous Bhagsunath Temple of Lord Shiva, the Bhagsunath Falls or the Bhagsu Falls is an important religious place for Hindus. The water falls from a height of about 20 meters which makes the view extremely fascinating. This is also a great place to practice your skills of photography! The captures of these falls will surely be treasurable ones. Next to the falls in a very nice cafeteria where tourists can enjoy snacking.
- Namgyal Monastery – This is another must visit spot of Dharamshala. Namgyal Monastery and the Tsuglag Khang complex is the home of Dalai Lama and also the largest Tibetan temple located outside Tibet. The 2nd Dalai Lama founded this monastery in about 16th century. It was re-established in 1959 when the 14th Dalai Lama was bestowed asylum in India. Monks undergo stringent training programs and courses for study of sacred arts, philosophy, debates and meditation.
- Kangra Fort – A huge architectural masterpiece, Kangra Fort was constructed by Kangra’s royal family in around 4th century B.C. Situated at a distance of about 20km from Dharamshala, this is the largest and the most ancient fort of Himalayas. After passing a group of seven gates come the glorious temples. Next to the fort is the Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch Museum, which is managed by the royal family of Kangra.
- Kangra Art Museum – A house to antiquities from Tibetan and Buddhist cultures, the Kangra Art Museum is located close to the bus terminal of Dharamshala. There are a large number of artifacts that include embroidered fabrics, palanquins, weapons, miniature paintings, temple carvings, rare pottery, sculptures, coin memorabilia, antique jewelry and a lot more.
Other important place to visit in and aroud Dharamshala
- Tsuglag Khang
- Norbulingka Institute
- Gyuto Monastery
- Library of Tibetan Works and Archives
- Aghanjar Mahadev Temple
- St. John Church
- Kunal Pathri Temple
- Hanuman Ka Tibba
- Kotwali Bazaar
- Dharamshala Cricket Stadium etc.
Festivals & Fairs
Although a plenty of fairs and festivals are organized and celebrated in Dharamshala such as Drupka Teshi Festival, Haldi Festival, Kangra Valley Summer Festival, International Himalayan Festival, Dharamshala Film Festival, Dal Fair, TIPA Fair etc. but most important of them all is the Buddh Purnima Festival. Since Buddhism is a crucial part of lives of locals and residents of Dharamshala, Buddh Purnima which is the birthday of Lord Buddha is celebrated here with a great pomp and show. The entire town comes to an all new life and jubilance during the celebrations of Buddh Purnima.
Best Time to Visit
Every season in Dharamshala has something to offer to its tourists. Summers lasting from March to June are pleasant and provide respite from the scorching heat. July brings the monsoon which further enhances the greenery of Dharamshala and makes its backdrops even more romantic. From mid of September it starts getting mildly cold in the nights with days remaining pleasant. Months of December and January are meant for those who want to enjoy snow-falls and view of white snow-covered mountains. During these months, temperatures may even fall below the freezing point so do not forget to carry loads of woolens.
How to reach
By air – The nearest airport Gaggal is only 13kilometers away from Dharamshala. This airport is well connected with lots of flights from all over the country. You can also take flights till Chandigarh and thereafter hire a taxi for Dharamshala which is at the distance about 275kms from Chandigarh.
By train – The nearest railway station is Pathankot which is approximately 85kms away from Dharamshala. There are a number of daily trains to Jammu and Kashmir which stop on Pathankot railway station. Take taxi or bus from this railway station for reaching Dharamshala. A smaller railway station is Kangra Mandir which is about 22kms away but it is serviced by very few trains which does not make it a very convenient option.
By Bus – Dharamshala is 520kms away from national capital Delhi. There are lots of state transport buses available from Delhi for going to Dharamshala. The main bus terminal in Dhramashala is Inter State Bus Stand Dharamshala, from where you can get buses for local area as well as for outer places such as Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Dehradun etc.
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