Dharamshala: Concise Travel Guide

Clusters of modest establishments on the slope of the hills and surrounded by thicket present a welcoming atmosphere for travelers and pilgrims. This Indian city is located in the northern part of Kangra valley at an altitude of over one thousand meters in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Dharamshala [or Dharamsala] is frequented by nationals and foreign tourists in view of its proximity to the Dhauladar Range and a perfect weather during summer. The Monastery of the Dalai Lama, with all the accessible yoga and meditation centers, serves as the lodestone for those on a spiritual journey.



  • Summer, from March to mid of July, is the best time to visit Dharamshala when the temperature ranges from 15 to 30 degrees and temperate most of the time. The downside is that the city is very crowded. It is also good to visit during winter while the environment looks more magnificent.

  • Delhi to Dharamshala by Bus
    There are several buses from New Delhi to Dharamshala. It is best to take an overnight trip from Majnu Ka Tilla, a Tibetan community in Delhi, as the fare is only 600 to 800 Rupees depending on the class. Tickets can also be booked at the hotels and travel agencies in Pahar Ganj but they cost way higher. The ride is about 12 hours and tourist buses stop at the Main Square in McLeod Ganj.

    Delhi to Dharamshala by Air

    There are 4 daily flights from New Delhi to Dharamshala. The cheapest fare is from Air India, which is about 3,500 Rupees. Spice Jet tickets cost a little high. The airport is located at Gaggal, 15 kilometers away from McLeod Ganj.

    Delhi to Dharamshala by Train

    This is another option but it is not practical. The nearest railway station is in Pathankot, which is located 90 kilometers away, about 3 hours bus ride.

  • Where to stay in Dharamshala?

    Bhasu Naag. Most tourists stay here. It has a perfect vibe and closer to the waterfalls.


    Dharamkot. Great for the nature lovers, the place is surrounded by pine trees.


    McLeod Ganj (around the Main Square). The bus station and the Dalai Lama Temple is within the area.


    Naddi. Not too crowded and near the Dal Lake.

    Hotel price in Dharamshala ranges from 4 to 150 USD a night. For backpackers, I recommend HosteLavie in Bhagsu Nag. It is a new guesthouse and a dorm bed is only 5 USD. Nice staff. Clean. The cafe is on the top floor with great view of the surroundings. There is roof deck for yoga exercises.
  • What are the places to visit in Dharamshala?


    Bhagsunag Waterfalls DharamshalaBhagsunag Waterfalls
    A must place to visit in Dharamshala, the cascading falls are located about one kilometer from Bhagsu. After about 15 to 20 minutes hike on the stairs and an unpaved pathway, you can dip your feet in cold water, find a spot to meditate, or just have some nourishment at the cafe while enjoying the scenery.


    Dal Lake, DharamshalaDal Lake
    This attraction is located about 2 kilometers away from the Main Square. It is just an ordinary lake at the base of the hill but it is surrounded by evergreens, making it a bit scenic. It is considered sacred because of the temple of Lord Shiva located on its bank.


    The Dalai Lama Temple, DharamshalaThe Dalai Lama Temple
    This is a good place to see the monks while they gather for teachings and prayer. Some monks speak very good English and always willing to chat with visitors. The Temple is within the compound where the Dalai Lama residence is located.


    Tibet Museum, DharamshalaTibet Museum
    It is established to raise awareness on the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the Tibetan persistent struggle for freedom through photographs, videos, and reading materials. A documentary film about Tibetan history is shown daily. The museum is located within the Dalai Lama Temple complex.


    Triund Hill, DharamshalaTriund
    Triund hill is located at an altitude of about 2,800 meters and 10 kilometers away from the Main Square. You can do a day trek, 3 to 4 hours ascend from Bhagsu or Dharamkot, to get closer to the Dhauladhar mountain. The trail is easy but sometimes slippery.


    Dharamkot Waterfall, DharamshalaDharamkot Waterfall
    This in one unpopular but truly captivating attraction. It is located about 5 kilometers away from Gallu Devi where you can start the trek on rocky and at times very narrow trail. There is a cafe midway, called the Sunset Cafe, where you can have some snacks. The view there is amazing.

  • What are the top things to do in Dharamshala?


    Cycling
    You may want to visit farther places, get to the attractions more quickly, or simply want to pedal around. Mountain bikes can be rented at 400 to 700 Rupees per day.


    Sightseeing in DharamshalaSightseeing
    Dharamshala is an impressively beautiful place; the surroundings itself is enough to be marveled at. If you want to see more of the city, there are several travel agencies offering guided tours with varying itineraries.


    Camping in DharamshalaCamping
    The sky is clearer at sundown and in the morning and the white mountain looks magnificent while the sun rises and observed at the snow line. You don’t need to bring own tent, you can rent it up the Triund at 500 Rupees plus a little extra for sleeping bag and blanket.


    Trekking in DharamshalaTrekking
    There are various trekking itineraries to choose from. You can join a group or trek on your own on the easy trails. The most popular of which is up the Triund Hill which can be completed in half a day.


    Paragliding
    If you are in for an extreme adventure, you can try paragliding in Bir. At 2,000 Rupees, you get to experience flying and observe the scenic landscape of the valley at an elevation of over 2,400 meters. The flight lasts from 15 to 30 minutes.


    Massage
    Massage is a natural treatment for stress and body pain. In Dharamshala, there are a number of centers to have authentic Tibetan massage as well as to learn the techniques.


    Meditation in DharamshalaMeditation and Yoga
    The surroundings and the vibe provides a perfect mood for spiritual activities. You meet many people whose interest is enlightenment. Dharamshala is home to various yoga and meditation centers.

    Upcoming Events in Dharamshala

    Drupka Teshi Festival
    Drukpa Teshi is a Buddhists festival to mark the event when Buddha first turned the Wheel of Dharma. It is celebrated annually, August to September this year. There will be a fair on the banks of Dal Lake.

  • Where to Volunteer?


    Peepal Farm
    https://www.facebook.com/peepalfarm
    This is an organization dedicated to rescuing injured stray animals. Volunteers can work on the organic garden and tend to the animals at the recovery center.The organization lacks financial support, hence volunteers are asked to contribute 500 Rupees per night for food and accommodation.


    Waste Warriors
    https://www.facebook.com/wastewarriors2
    This organization runs waste management projects. They are scouting for volunteers to join in the cleanup activities, art projects and do regular office works. They provide accommodation at 100 Rupees per night of stay.


    Tibet World
    http://www.tibetworld.org/
    The organization is devoted to helping the youth develop skills and educating visitors about the Tibetan culture. It hosts a variety of activities for the benefit of Tibetan refugees. Volunteer opportunities include teaching languages, web development, yoga teaching, writing, photography, musical performance and some others.



  • Spend only 2,500 Rupees for a three-day-two-night getaway in this lovely city in Himachal Pradesh. Click on the accordion below for budget details.

  • GOING

     RouteMode* Travel TimeAmount
    (Rupees)
      Majnu Ka Tilla to McLeod GanjRegular Bus 12 Hours600
      Main Square to BhagsuTaxi 5 Minutes50

    The regular taxi fare from the bus stop at McLeod Ganj to Bhagsu Nag is 100 Rupees but you can share a ride with another tourist and split the fare. The distance is less than two kilometers, you may opt to just go by foot.
    RETURN

      Bhagsu to Main SquareWalk 30 Minutes100 Calories
      McLeod Ganj to Majnu Ka TillaRegular Bus 1.5 Hour600
  •   2 nights at Freedom Palace500

    The actual rate of a room for two was 500 per night. You can choose to stay in one with a twin size bed or with two single beds. 

  • Thukpa in Tibetan restaurants is only 100 Rupees. Chicken with rice in a barbecue shop in Bhagsu is 120 Rupees. Beef burger with fries is also 120 Rupees. In HosteLavie, breakfast is included and you get an unlimited free refill of mineral water. If you are on a budget, you can spend only an average of 250 Rupees for food per day.