Dharmshala, the name brings to mind lovely snow clad peaks of the Himalayas, red clad monks bustling in the streets and the gongs and drums of Buddhist temples ringing in your ears. Indeed, Dharamshala is one of the most enthralling holiday places of incredible India.
While sightseeing this popular tourist site, it is advisable to set your base in the picturesque village of Naddi where nature abounds in all its glory. Far away from the maddening crowds, this high point ahead of McLeodganj offers a stunning view of the majestic Himalayas on one side and extensive spread of the lush Kangra valley on the other side. Nothing can equal the experience of sipping your morning tea with these for your neighbors.
There are various places in and around Dharamshala which are a blend of religious, scenic and historic interest.
How to reach?
You can reach Dharamshala by road from several points which are within a range of 250 kms or so from it, such as Chandigarh, Manali, Jammu or Shimla. The closest airport is Gaggal which is at a distance of 14 km. The nearest broad gauge rail station is Pathankot from where a narrow gauge rail line takes you to Kangra which is at a distance of 17 km, by road.
What are the ideal times to visit?
Winters are accompanied by snowfall and hence the summer months are ideal times to visit this scenic place.
Places to visit in and around Dharamshala
You can book the services of private cabs to take you around the various tourist spots which abound in this area. The first must see site is the Norbulingka Tibetan Institute which lies about 20 kms from main Dharamshala.
A place, come vibrant with the colorful Tibetan architecture, landscaped gardens and a coffee shop with an old world charm in its precincts, leaves you totally mesmerized.
Jwalamukhi temple dedicated to the goddess Jwalamukhi is located on the Dharamshala-Shimla road and is unique for the absence of any idol to worship; instead the deity is worshipped in the form of flames jutting out from the openings in the rock.
The Dalai Lama Temple complex is another must see site in the McLeodganj region. There is nothing to match the serenity and sacredness of this place which offers stunning views of the surrounding natural beauty. It is also one of the best places to be enlightened on the Tibetan culture and Buddhism.
The next site which tops the list of breathtaking scenic spots is the Kangra valley.
Colorful Kangra Valley
You are just transported to a fairy land like world as you immerse yourself in the lush greens of the valley with towering pines around you and the snow capped Himalayan peaks in the background. The colorful floating balloons and the gliders add a dash of color to the natural beauty.
Dharamshala also boasts of a superb cricket stadium, one of the highest stadiums in the world. HPCA Stadium
The Bhagsu Nag temple, Tea gardens, Gopalpur zoo, St. John in the Wilderness and Dal Lake are some of the other sites worth visiting.
The Kotwali Bazaar and the McLeodganj area are the main haunts for obtaining Tibetan handicrafts, garments and carpets. A ten day festival starting from the second Saturday of April is held by the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts which is close by.
The Dauladhar range offers ample scope for adventure activities like rock climbing and trekking between months of May and October. Opportunities for angling can be sought in specific stretch of river Beas between the Pong Dam and Nadaun.
Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh is truly a perfect combination of peace and liveliness. The beautiful mountain ranges, lakes, temples and monastery beckon all tourists to savor its scenic and colorful life.