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3.6 /5 112 votes


Best Time: February - June Read More

Ideal duration: 2-4 days

Nearest Airport: Jammu Check Flights

"The little Lhasa in India"

Dharamshala Tourism

Dharamsala is located in Kangra district at a distance of 18km from Kangra City. Dharamsala is separated as upper and lower divisions with different altitudes. The lower division is the Dharamsala town itself. whereas, the upper-division is located 3km away and popularly known as Mcleodganj(Famed as the holy residence of the Dalai Lama and Tibetans in exile). Dharamsala is prominently visited for the bus connections and the bustling market.

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Dharamshala is derived from the Hindi words Dharam and shala. This roughly translates to mean a spiritual dwelling or a sanctuary. The word dharma holds different significant meanings to different groups, both culturally and spiritually. Commonly, Dharamsala describes a shelter or rest house for pilgrims. There was a pilgrim rest house originally in the town, from where Dharamsala got its name.


Formerly ruled by the Katoch dynasty for around two millennia, Dharamshala was annexed by the British in 1848. Following this, in 1860, the Gurkhas arrived in Dharamshala. Also called as the ‘bravest of the brave’ the fate and history of this tribe is interminably linked to that of the town. The Gurkhas were originally Nepali soldiers, who were recruited by the British to fight in the World Wars. Their heroic feats during the war are still remembered, and many places in Dharamshala are named in their honour such as - Depot bazaar, Tirah Lanes etc. Dharamshala was a popular hill station for Britishers working in the Delhi region, and they were considering to make it their summer capital until the earthquake of 1905 which left over 20,000 people dead. Shimla was then named the summer capital. The Gurkhas contributed immensely to the rebuilding of the city post the earthquake. Many Gurkhas also played a prominent role in India’s independence struggle as freedom fighters. The Indian National Army’s captain - Ram Singh Thakur, was a Gurkha, and he composed the famous patriotic song - Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja.


Dharamshala is a shopping haven for tourists and offers many unique, locally made items. The most famous shopping areas in Dharamshala include the Jogibara Road, and Kotwali Bazaar, both located around McLeod Ganj. McLeod Ganj has a 152-year old shop called Nowrojee & Sons which has many antique items for sale - including British and German relics from the World Wars. Dharamshala offers a collection of Tibetan and Buddhist artefacts like brass artefacts, statues, wall hangings, wooden and stone bead prayers etc. Some of the best shops to scourge for these items include the Divine Buddha Handicrafts, Tibetan Handicraft Centre, and the Semshook Tibetan Handicrafts. The Namgyal Bookstore is also a good place to stop to pick up books on Tibetan and Buddhist culture, as well as others on Himachal Pradesh and Himalayan history.

The Little Lhasa of India

To many of you, who are unaware, Dharamsala is the home to Dalai Lama, the Buddhist leader who runs his government in exile from Dharamsala. Now, what better place on earth than this little town set on the foothills of Dhauladhar ranges to experience the rich and regal Tibetan culture. In the year 1959, Dalai Lama came to India with his followers and settled, rather beautified the town of Dharamsala, transforming it into the little Lhasa. Dharamsala, for many years, has been a centre of meditation and peace, with thousands of people from around the world coming here to seek Nirvana.

Restaurants and Local Food in Dharamshala

One can find a lot of restaurants and cafes here which derve decent food. Being dominated by the Tibetan culture one will mostly find Tibetan cuisine being served. Do try the momos, thukpas and other Tibetan dishes. Another speciality of this place is honey ginger lemon tea which is a very refreshing drink. A lot of cafes also serve English breakfast with Pancakes, Omlettes and Sandwiches. One of the best establishments here are the Green Restaurant and the Herbal Tea Shop. There are a few pubs here as well which serve imported alcohol along with food with music in the background. Momos are a specialty here. Different types of momos locally called as Tingmo, Tibetan type samosa known to be Baklebs and a meal of soup and noodles Thukpas are most common.
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One Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at the Gaggal airport, reach your hotel in a cab. Check-in at the hotel. Leave for local sightseeing after some rest. Visit the Buddhist Monasteries in Dharamsala. Visit the famous Tsuglagkhang monastery and Namgyal monastery in McleodGanj and spend some time in peace and tranquillity.
Day 2: Visit the Dharamsala cricket ground and enjoy the surreal view of the Dhauladhar ranges. Then, head to visit the famous Dal lake of Dharamsala. Afterwards, visit the Kangra Fort which is located just 20 km away from Dharamsala.
Day 3: Visit the BhagsuNag waterfall and temple in Mcleodganj. Then, enjoy the short trek of 2-3 hours to Triund in Mcleodganj and back to the hotel.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

A great place for meditation and learning about Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Great view of Dhauladhar ranges. Pleasant weather all around the year.

What's Not So Great?

It has become over-crowded with large amount of tourists rushing to Dharamshala.

For Whom?

For religious people, people in search of meditation and peace. Also, for the avid trekkers as Dharamsala opens the way for a number of treks.

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Dharamshala Reviews

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Rohit Shroff 1 year ago
- If you are planning to drive to dharamshala make sure you are good at it, because there are really sharp cuts around.
- It will be a good idea to include Mcleodganj in the trip along with Bhagsu. Dharamshala alone is an okayish tourist place, but combined with Mcleodganj, it will be truly worth visiting.
- Have extra days in hand if you really want to get a feel of Dharamshala and Mcleodganj. It is a mini country in itself and sightseeing is not enough. The people and their culture are actually more interesting than the place itself.
Ishita Solanki 1 year ago
Dharamsala has a very pleasant weather, especially in the summers. The main attractions here are Mcleodganj, Dharamkot, Naddi and Triund. If a hippie lifestyle attracts you then Dharamkot is a must visit. The Naddi trek was amazing and very beautiful. There was a river too, with water shallow and slow enough to enter. The summit of Triund trek felt like the edge of the world. A must visit, indeed. There were also Buddhist monastries where we saw how monks lived. Local shopping was fun, too. Bhagsu Nag waterfalls were magnificent. It was quite a fulfilling trip on the whole.
Tanvi Akhauri 1 year ago
Dharamshala is a hill station which can be repeatedly visited, because there is just so much to do. The 9-hour drive from Delhi is very picturesque, though it is a bit too long. Stock up on medicines if you are prone to motion-sickness on the mountains. I covered most of the tourist spots- Dharamshala Cricket Stadium, St. John's Church, War Memorial- on my way to McLeod Ganj, since these places don't require much time. It is advisable to move upwards and spend more time in McLeod Ganj, because that's where all the activity is. The weather is pleasant, especially during April-June, so carry a few light clothes. The mountains are visible as far as the eye goes, making the place look like a painting.
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