A Travel Guide to Dharamshala

Dharamshala Airport Directory (DHM)
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If you are seeking a spot to immerse your thoughts in peace and tranquilly, then Dharmshala in Himachal Pradesh is one of the best places to visit. Being the most well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site, every mile here exudes tranquilly and joy. McLeodganj, the residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is close to upper Dharamshala, and surrounded by breathtaking hills and abundant flora. If you're planning a vacation to Dharamshala, it's fair to state that McLeodganj boasts the most picturesque vistas that stay imprinted in your memory.

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Best time to visit Dharamshala

The best time to visit Dharamshala is between March and June, when the weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures fluctuating between 20°C and 35°C.

How to reach Dharamshala?

  • By air: Kangra Airport, also called Gaggal Airport, is the nearest domestic airport. The airport is about 15 kilometres away and the drive to Dharamshala takes about 30 minutes. From the airport, you can get taxis that will drop you off to this hilly town. So, to book flights to Dharamshala, visit goIndiGo.in.
  • By train: The closest major railway station to Dharamshala is located at Pathankot. It is approximately 85 kilometres away. Here, you have the option of taking a taxi directly to Dharamshala, or a local/private bus.
  • By bus: Dharamshala has hassle-free bus connectivity from the capital Delhi as well as other neighbouring cities. Both private and state-run buses are available, providing a wide variety of travel options.

Getting around Dharamshala

Since Dharamshala is a mountainous area, it lacks access to a wide variety of options. There are local taxis and buses. However, the best option is walking or renting a two-wheeler. Dharamshala also has a 1.8-kilometer-long ropeway. You can get to McLeodganj in just 10 minutes.

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Places to visit in Dharamshala

  • Norbulingka Institute: If you are looking for a unique experience that involves learning about Tibetan culture and art styles not just sightseeing, then you must visit the Norbulingka Institute. It is built in a traditional Tibetan architectural style. This institute has independently maintained its legacy of traditional Tibetan art over the years. It also provided employment to the Tibetan community of 300 people.
  • Tsuglagkhang Complex: The Tuglakhan Complex is the private residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. It is located in McLeodganj, a few minutes above Dharamshala. Here, you can interact with monks when they are relieved of their duties and learn about their life experiences.
  • Dharamshala Cricket Stadium: This place will literally take your breath away as it is surrounded by the beautiful Dhauladhar. The Himalayan Cricket Stadium is considered to be one of the highest sports fields in the world. One of the best things about this stadium is that it has beautiful Tibetan architecture.
  • Bhagsunag Waterfalls: Bagusnag Falls, near Bagus village, is a high-altitude waterfall that is sure to give you some tranquil nectar if you're looking for a break from the chaos of the world. This place is one of the most beautiful in Dharamsala because of its spiritual atmosphere, mystical mood, refreshing atmosphere, and natural beauty.
  • Namgyal Monastery: Namgyal Monastery is one of Dharamshala's most famous religious attractions. Many young monks here are involved in the practise and study of traditional Tibetan Buddhism. You'll find a different cultural experience here, along with breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains and the lush greenery surrounding this place.

Places to eat in Dharamshala

  • Tibet Kitchen: It is no surprise that there are plenty of Tibetan restaurants in Dharamshala, since over 10,000 residents hail from Tibet. This restaurant is known for having a wide selection of all kinds of typical Tibetan dishes. In addition to Tibetan cuisine, there are also Thai and Chinese dishes.
  • Mcllo Beer Bar and Restaurant: If you want to enjoy great food and listen to live music, then you must visit this place. It is one of Dharamsala's most popular restaurants, serving generous amounts of food from nearly every region of the world.
  • Morgan’s Place: If you are craving pizza, you need to visit Morgan's Place. They serve some of the most delicious pizzas, and what's best is that you get magnificent views of the mountains. The aroma of the pizza from the clay ovens will captivate you before anything else.
  • Norling Restaurant: Another of the best restaurants in Dharamshala is Norling Restaurant. They serve delicious Tibetan cuisine. There are outdoor seating tables with tree-shaded spaces, and the indoor area offers a relaxing space from which you can enjoy the view of the mountains.

Shopping in Dharamshala

  • Kotwali Bazaar: One of the most popular markets in Dharamsala, and probably the first one you’ll come across when you visit, is Kotwali Bazaar. The market is full of shops selling shawls, sweaters, cardigans, and several accessories. At the market, you can purchase items derived from Tibetan heritage such as Buddha statues made of stone, crystal, wood, and other materials.
  • Jogibara Road Bazaar: Another popular shopping destination in Dharamsala is Jogibara Road Bazaar. The market sells several handmade items like beaded necklaces, gemstone jewellery, colourful beads, and more. Most of the jewellery sold in the market is inspired by the culture and heritage of Tibet.

Where to stay in Dharamshala

  • The Divine Hima: Hotel Divine Hima is one of the luxury hotels in Dharamshala. This four-star hotel has several rooms named after various Himalayan passes. There are also a wide variety of activities to book from the hotel such as yoga, trekking, cooking, meditation, and nature walks. The Divine Hima is an ideal place to relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy the wonders of nature.
  • The Pavilion: The Pavilion is a five-star hotel from where you get to see stunning views of the Dhauladhar Mountains and Kangra Valley. It has well-appointed rooms in different categories, including pavilion rooms, chalet rooms, club rooms, and suites.
  • WelcomHeritage Grace Hotel: If you want to live in a 200-year-old mansion, then you can book a room at WelcomHeritage Grace Hotel. The hotel has 14 deluxe rooms that have antique furnishings; the look and appeal of the hotel offer the utmost comfort.

More reasons to visit Dharamshala

  • Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF): Dharamshala hosts an international film festival every year. If you're a movie buff and have always wanted to go to a film festival, now is your chance. It was first held in 2012 and has since grown into an annual event. It is usually held during November. Indian and international filmmakers, film critics, and media representatives head to Dharmashala for this event.
  • Trekking in McLeodGanj: McLeodGanj is an ideal destination for trekkers, as there are many trails starting from here. With dense forests of pine, oak, and rhododendron tree, it's perfect for hiking. Many treks begin in McLeodGanj and end in the Chamba district.
  • Dalai Lama: McLeodGanj is also where you can find His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. When he is in town, he holds public sermons in the Dalai Lama Main Temple. You will need to schedule a meeting by visiting the official website.

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