The high snow clad Dhauladhar ranges of the Himalayas form a magnificent backdrop to the-hill resort of 0sala. This is the principal township of Kangra and over looks the wide spread of the plains. With dense pine and deodar forests, numerous streams, cool healthy air, attractive surroundings and the nearby snowline, Dharamsala has everything for a perfect holiday. It is full of life and yet peaceful. And, not surprisingly, the headquarters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is here.
Covering a wide area in the form of a twin settlement, Lower Dharamsala (1380 m) is a busy commercial centre, while Upper Dharamsala (1 830 m) with the suburbs of McLeodganj and Forsythganj, retains a British flavour and colonial lifestyle. The charming church of St. John in the wilderness is situated here and this is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British Viceroy of India in the 19th Century.
There is also a large Tibetan community who have made this their home.
Numerous ancient temples like Jwalamukhi, Brijeshwari and Chamunda lie on the plains below Dharamsala.
How To Get There
Dharamsala can be approached by air from Delhi. The nearest airport is at Gaggla, just 13 km away. Pathankot, the nearest railway station is 85 km away. Taxis for Dharamsala are available at both places; from Pathankot the drive takes about three hours. Or you can drive from Delhi (526 km) via Chandigarh, Kiratpur and Bilaspur - this should take around 8 hours. From Delhi and Shimia, Luxury buses ply to Dharamsala.
More on Himachal
At a Glance
In winter the temperature can drop quite low when heavy woollens are required. During summer, the climate is mild and light woollens/cottons are recommended.
Poised against the mighty Dhauladhar ranges, Himachal
Started in Otober l978, Himachal Tourism's Hotel Bhagsu is located near the residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and the Namgyal Monastery.
The hotel is named afterthe famous temple of Bhagsunath. Sprawled over a wide area with lush green deodartrees. Spacious lawns and a backdrop of the majestic Dhauladhar mountains, the Hotel Bhagsu presents nature at its very best.
Address: Hotel Bhagsu, McLeodganj, Upper Dharamsala(H.P)-176219.Tel:(01892)23191
The variety Dharamsala offers ranges from temples, churches and monasteries to museums,ancient towns and places of natural beauty. Every season and every spot has its own special offering.
At the very start of town, landscaped lawns and a web of narrow paths fill a pine grove where a monument has been raised to commemorate the post independence war heroes of Himachal Pradesh.
Kangra Art Museum, Kotwali Bazzar
This treasure trove of the Kangra valley's arts, crafts and rich past, displays artificats that date back to the 5th century. It includes a gallery of Kangra's famous minitarue paintings and a representative collection of sculptures, pottery and anthropological items. 'Shamianad' and dresses used by local royalty, old carved doors,' jalis', Linels and 'Pandals' are also on display. Coins. sect-section houses photographers.
The library is just below this.
11 Km from Dharamsala and surounded by deodar trees. The lake fills a mountain bowl and is an enchanting and serene picnic spot.
St. John's Church
8 km from Dharamsala, between Forsythganj and McLeodganj is the charming dressed-stone church of St. John in the Wilderness. Under the shade of deodar branches, a memorial has been erected over the body of the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died at Dharamsalain 1863. There is a well tended old graveyard on these grassy slopes.
Often called the 'Little Lhasa'at 1770 m, this is the residence of HH the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan government-in-exile has been here for over three decades. The impressive monastery has larger than life images of the Buddha Padmasambhava and Avalokiteshwara. The large Tibetan community and the presence of traditional architectural designs drawn from Tibet have enhanced the area. A host of Tibetan handicrafts, curious and garments are available on sale and every Sunday, a fleamarket operates.
The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts is just a km away and it organises a ten day festival from the second Saturday of April.
Close to fresh water springs, this ancient temples is 11 km from Dharamsala. it is a popular picnic spot and the famous slate quarries are close by.
A 3 km level walk from the Kotwali Bazaar leads up to this rock temple.
On the crest of a hill this attractive picnic spot presents a panoramic view of the Kangra valley and the Dhauladhar ranges. This is 11 km from Dharamsala.
Based at the foot of the Dhauladhar ranges. Triund is at a height of 2827 m and is 17 km s' from Dharamsala. The snowline starts 5 km from here. This is a popular picnic spot and trek-route, with spectacular view of the mountains and valleys. There is lovely forest rest house here.
22 km from Kotwali Bazzar, amidst sylvan surroundings, there is a rest house here. Surrounded by open meadows and thick woods, the Kareri lake is 13 km ahead.
10 km from Dharamsala on the banks of the rivulet Bindu Saras, is an ashram complex established by the late Swami Chimayananda, a noted exponent of the Gita. The complex includes a 9 m high image of Lord Hanuman, a magnificent Rama temple, a meditation hall, a school, and a health and recreation centre.
13 km south of Kangra is this large monolithic temple, similar to the temples of Eilora. With rich ornamentation, this is the only shrine carved out of live rock in North India. Images of Lord Rama, Laxman and Sita are installed here.
41 km from Dharamsala, on the highway to Pathankot, there is a cave temple with stalactite and stalagmite formations dedicated to Lord Shiva.
80 km from Dharamsala, this historic town is famous for its wall paintings, temples and fort. Here the festival of Holi is a major event.
13 km from Palampur, the famous artist S. Sobha Singh lived here for several years. A gallery houses some of his major works. Also, there is pottery centre at Andretta.
The temple of Jwalamukhi, Chamunda Devi and Brijeshwari Devi are other pilgrim centres close to Dharamsala. The Forts of Kangra and Mangarh are other attractions.
Adventure Activities and Sports
Between May and October, the Dhauladhar ranges offer an enormous variety of trekking and rock climbing. Himachal's Mountaineering Institute has a branch at Dharamsala.
The 20 km stretch of the river Beas between Nadaun and the Pong Dam offers ample opportunities in angling for Mahseer.
For local handicrafts at Kotwali Bazar, Tibetan handicrafts and carpets at McLeodganj.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.