Dharamshala or Dharamsala city is located in Kangra district at 18 km from Kangra city in Himachal Pradesh. The state's winter capital, Dharamshala, is separated as upper and lower divisions with different altitudes. The lower division is the Dharamsala town itself, whereas the upper division is located 3 km away and is popularly known as Mcleodganj. Dharamsala is prominently visited for the bus connections and the bustling market.
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 1959, Dalai Lama came to India with his followers and settled, rather beautifying the town of Dharamsala, transforming it into the little Lhasa. Dharamsala, for many years, has been a centre of meditation and peace.
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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.
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. View Top Restaurants in Dharamshala
Suggested Itinerary for Dharamshala
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.
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.
The packages for Dharamsala start at INR 9000 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here
What is famous about Dharamsala?
A great place for meditation and learning about Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Great view of Dhauladhar ranges. Pleasant weather all around the year.
What is not so good about Dharamsala?
It has become over-crowded with large amount of tourists rushing to Dharamshala.
Who should visit Dharamsala?
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.
What is the best time to visit Dharamsala?
The best time to visit Dharamshala between February to June (spring and summer) when the weather is pleasant with a maximum temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Winters here are frigid with occasional snowfalls; however, it makes the valley look much more beautiful. Monsoons (July - Early September) can be avoided as it might hamper your travel plans, but this place does not receive very heavy rainfall unlike other parts of Himachal and Uttarakhand. Read More
What is the local food in Dharamsala?
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. Read More
What are the top hotels in Dharamsala?
There are 335 in Dharamsala which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Dharamsala are Hotel Royal Taj, Triund Camps Riverside Resort, Camp Indrunag, Delightful 1BHK Cottage in Dharamshala, Serene 1BHK Home in Dharamshala, Best Cottages 2. You can see all the hotels in Dharamsala here
What are the things to do in Dharamsala?
The top things to do in Dharamsala are Dharamshala Cricket Stadium, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, St. John in the Wilderness Church, Dharamshala International Film Festival 2019, War Memorial, Gyuto Monastery. You can see all the places to visit in Dharamsala here
What are the places near Dharamsala?
The top places near to Dharamsala are Mcleodganj which is 4 km from Dharamsala, Dalhousie which is located 47 km from Dharamsala, Khajjiar which is located 43 km from Dharamsala, Manali which is located 81 km from Dharamsala, Shimla which is located 147 km from Dharamsala
Have a Question on Dharamshala?
Ask a question from the travellers who have experience.
There are segment of Hotels, expensive, and Budget ones. A lot information is available on Booking.com or Trivago.com or trip.com and many more. Or try some North Indian Travel agency who can design (Read More)your package from available options. See Prices as per your budget and make a booking. Seasonal Offers and Discounts can be availed easily and you can save some money on booking on days when the rates are a bit low or a long stay as per your schedule.
yes you can, weather can be challenging sometimes, however make up your mind to tolerate extreme cold during treks. Sometime its quite sunny in December month except for some rainy snowy days. If it (Read More)snows don't go on any tek as it can be extremely dangerous. See a local guide before you go on any trek. Bring some good warm clothes with you.
The wind is generally cold in winters, so ur glider will not take much lift.On sunny days the paragliding can be done but it will be a short flight.
The best time for such activity is Mar to June and Sec to Oct months.
- 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 (Read More). 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.
1 year ago
Dharamsala is nice place for vacations,nice view and people are also amazing,offbeat camping is trend now and there are lot of adventure camping sites nearby with many activities to cover up your day (Read More)time.
4 years 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 v (Read More)isit. 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.