The Little Lhasa in India
Dharamshala, popularly known as the Scotland of India, stands on a spur of the Dhauladhar range amidst magnificient deodar and pine forests. It is the district headquarters of Kangra district and is also known as "The Little Lhasa in India". It has every thing for a perfect holiday and is full of life and peace. The headquarters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are here.
Best time to visit Dharamshala April to June and September to November.
Dalai Lama lives gracefully here in exile, waiting for the day when the last of China's troops will finally leave his beautiful country. What most people don't know is that the great man's actual headquarters are located 4 km above this town, at Gangchen Kyishong.
His presence has meant that Dharamsala has evolved into an international crossroads of sorts, a blend of flavours of Tibet and India. Buddhist monks and nuns walk down the streets seemingly oblivious to the trappings of a material world, and the government-in-exile tries hard to wake the rest of the world from its indifference.
But in the end, what has changed Dharamsala from a sleepy British hill station to a place of pilgrimage for thousands over the world is the electric presence of one man, a modest man at that.
Dharamsala is a story of waiting, a persistent but dignified battle, and of a bond between two countries that stretches beyond all geographical limits. And the million-dollar question is: when Tibet gains its freedom, as it inevitably will, will Dharamsala lose its charm forever Not really; beautiful orchids will still flower in the surrounding valleys, and the mountains will stand quiet guard over the town, as they have for all time.
Bhagsunag-which is referred firstly by the kings name (Raja Bhagsu ) and then by the Lords name Nag is believed to be historical. It is about 11 kms. from Lower Dharamshala and we find an old temple and a fresh water spring. The temple of Bhagsu is devoted to Lord Shiva.
This is a modern day Ashram established by late Swami Chimayananda, exponent of the Gita, and is about 10 kms. from the town. Situated on the banks of Bindu Saras, the ashram includes a 9m high image of Hanuman, a Ram temple, a meditation hall, a school and a health & recreation center.
About 11 kms. from Dharamshala is a miniature oval-shaped artificial lake called Dal Lake surrounded by gigantic Fir trees. An annual fair is held in September every year. This lake has a charm of its own, solely due to its surrounding forest and hills.
This is an attractive picnic spot, about 11-km away from Dharamsala and presents a panoramic view of the Kangra valley and Dauladhar ranges.
Besides offering a panoramic view of the Dhaula Dhar range of mountains, Kangra valley and the Pong Dam, the village once had a gallery of a well-known english painter A.W. Hallot. Today its is a favourite picnic spot.
This temple is 30 kms. from Kangra dedicated to the "Goddess of Light". In this temple there is a copper pipe through which natural gas comes out and the priest of the temple lights this. A golden spire, a gift from the Emperor Akbar, tops the temple.
These are the rock temples from which the place derives its name. Kunal Pathri is a 3 kms. flat walk from Kotwali Bazaar. All around it is a sprawling tea estate.
About 15 kms. South of Kangra this is the only shrine carved out of live rock in North India. Images of Ram Sita and Lakhsman can be found in the sanctum of the main temple.
This was originally the home of the semi-nomadic Gaddi tribe, and today the residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. This is now a major culture centre of Tibetian culture and the impressive monastery has life size images of Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avaloketeshwara.
Nurpur 66kms. from Dharamshala , Nurpur is famous for an old fort and a temple of Brij Raj. It is named after the Mughal Empress Nurjehan. There is a PWD rest house for the convenient stay of tourists.
St. Johns Church
This charmingly dressed stone church is about 8 kms. from Dharamsala on the way to McLeod Ganj. Under the shade of Doedar branches, a memorial has been made over the body of the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died in 1863.
This is on the foothills of Dhauladhar range and is 17 kms. from Dharamsala. The breathtaking views of the mountains and the valleys make Triund an ideal picnic and trekking spot. A Ropeway is being installed from Dharamshala to this place.
Set amidst the pine groves is a war memorial, to commemorate the post independence war heroes of Himachal Pradesh. A web of narrow paths and landscaped lawns lead towards this monument.
Stalls and tiny shops along all the main streets hawk Tibetan trinkets, cheap woollies, incense, prayer bells, books and rugs. McLeodganj Bazaar is a good place to pick up Tibetan handicrafts; there is also a special Sunday market. The large handicrafts shop on Jogibara Road sells thangkas of all sizes, and also prayer flags.
Dharamsala receives visitors all through the year, though in winter (December-March) it can get bitterly cold, with heavy snows blanking out the landscape. The summer brings torrential rains (which also linger in the form of showers for the rest of the year) and also fog and mist. But even though the days might seem hot, the nights still call for woollies and/or wood in the fireplace.
Summer - Max: 33°C Min. 22°C
Winter - Max: 15°C Min. 0°C
HOW TO REACH
AIR : Dharamsala can be approached by air from Delhi and the nearest Airport is at Gaggla, 13 kms. from the town.
RAIL : Pathankot is 85 kms. and is the nearest railhead for Dharamsala. Trains from all over the country make a stop over at Pathankot and from here it is a three-hour journey to Dharamsala.