Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh is a destination that has something to offer for everyone. Nestled in the foothills of the Dhauladhar Himalayas, this picturesque town is not only a paradise for nature lovers but also a hub of spiritual and cultural activities. It is also the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the seat of Tibetan government-in-exile. It is therefore a significant center for Tibetan culture and Buddhism. During my recent trip to Dharamsala with my family, we explored this beautiful town with its diverse offerings, from its stunning natural beauty to its rich cultural heritage.
Dharamsala – Getting There
We drove to Dharamsala in our Tata Nexon car from Delhi (Greater Noida), taking the Delhi Meerut Expressway, passing through Dasna and getting onto the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), then passing through Sonepat, Panipat, Karnal, Ambala, Chandigarh, Kiratpur Sahib, Nangal, Una, Kangra, and finally arriving at our destination. The journey was a scenic and enjoyable one, with many interesting pit stops along the way for tea, refreshments and lunch. We recommend taking breaks on the way to stretch your legs and enjoy the sights along the route.
I have TATA Nexon in my stables since 2021. Prior to that I owned Maruti Alto CNG which I consider my first love as far as four wheeler are concerned. An excellent car I must say. The Tata Nexon that I won now is a beast of a car especially suitable for hills and mountains, thanks to its high ground clearance, robust build quality, and responsive engine options. The car is also equipped with safety features like ABS, EBD, and hill hold control, which make it suitable for tackling steep inclines and descents in the mountainous roads. However, driving in the hills requires caution more than expertise and my recommendations while driving to hill stations like Dharamsala is to drive responsibly and follow all safety guidelines.
The road condition from Delhi to Dharamsala is absolutely fantastic except at few places after Una. We also had to ask for directions after Una as the navigator sometimes a bit misleading. Finally we reached the beautiful hill station of Dharamsala.
Where to Stay in Dharamsala
While searching for Home Stay in Dharamshala, we came across Mannat Villa and booked it for 3 days. Mannat Villa in Dharamshala, is close to the interstate bus stand, 1.5 km away. This is a property with the owners staying on top floors and the person who had taken it on lease on the ground floor renting front rooms for the Guests. We had two bedrooms with two bathrooms to ourselves. There is also a living room, a porch to sit around and a small garden. Parking for one car for the guests is available. Our experience of homestay in Dharamsala was fantastic. The homestay offered a warm and welcoming environment, the rooms were spacious, clean, and offered stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The only thing we did not like was the food but that wasn’t a problem as we mostly ate outside.
Food and Drink
The food in Dharamsala is a gastronomic delight, with plenty of local delicacies to savor. When in Dharamsala why not try some popular local Tibetan dishes like momo, thukpa, and Tibetan butter tea. We visited some notable cafes and restaurants in the town, including Namgyal Cafe and Tibet Kitchen. These places not only offered delicious food but also had a great ambiance.
Things to Do and See
Dharamsala has plenty of attractions and activities to keep visitors engaged. Some of the highlights of our trip included the visit to Macloedganj, visiting the Namgyal Monastery and the Dalai Lama Temple, visit to Bhagsu Nala and trek to Bhagsu Nala waterfall. We could not go for the popular Triund Trek and also coudnt see the Kangra Fort. The town of McLeod Ganj is a haven for art and culture enthusiasts.
Local Culture and History
Dharamsala is steeped in history and culture, of which we got a glimpse of it during our visit. We visited Macloed Ganj which is popular place to visit to see the Tibetan culture and is a hub of Tibetan handicrafts, and we enjoyed shopping for local souvenirs. Visit to the Bhagsu Temple and waterfall was also worth it. The local people in Dharamsala are friendly and welcoming.
Speaking of Dharamsala Weather, the town has a temperate climate, with mild temperatures throughout the year. The weather in Dharamsala is mostly temperate and pleasant throughout the year. During summers (May to June), the temperatures range from 22°C to 35°C. The monsoon season starts from from July to September, occasionally bringing heavy rainfall, making it a less popular time of the year to visit Dharamsala. The winter season which is quite chilly lasts from December to February, with temperatures ranging from 0°C to 15°C. During winter there is occasional snowfall. The best time to visit Dharamsala is from March to June when the weather is pleasant, and the forests, valleys, mountains is adorned in its best finery.
Some Must Visit Places in Dharamsala
Dharamsala has a lot to offer for travelers adventure seekers, those seeking spirituality or simply enjoying the natural beauty. Here are some popular places of interest in Dharamsala
Triund is one of the most popular trekking and camping destination in Dharamsala, known for its panoramic views of the Dhauladhar range. There are a number of companies who organises treks in and around Dharamsala. The trek starts from McLeod Ganj from near Bhagsu Nala and takes around 4-6 hours to reach the top. Located at an altitude of 2,850 meters, Triund offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. One can spend a night or two in tents.
Dharamsala Cricket Stadium
Dharamsala Cricket Stadium is considered one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. Located in the midst of the scenic Dhauladhar range, this cricket ground has hosted many national and international cricket matches.
St. John in the Wilderness Church
St. John in the Wilderness Church is an old historic church located in the forest area of Dharamsala, few kms before Macloed ganj. This church was built in 1852 in memory of John the Baptist and is surrounded by deodar trees, giving it a serene and tranquil atmosphere. Unfortunately the church seems to be in a dilapidated condition needing restoration work.
Bhagsunag Temple is an ancient temple located in Bhagsu village, very near to McLeod Ganj. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known for its natural water spring and beautiful surroundings. One can spend some time here enjoying the tranquility and serence atmosphere.
Bhagsunag Waterfall is located close to the Bhagsunag Temple and is a popular spot for tourists to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the place. One has to trek to reach the waterfall which is surrounded by lush greenery and offers a peaceful environment.
Tsuglagkhang Temple is the residence of the 14th Dalai Lama is considered sacred and most important Buddhist temple in Dharamsala. The Monastery houses a statue of Lord Buddha, along with other important Buddhist artifacts.
Kangra Fort is located in Kanga which is 20 km from Dharamsala. This historic fort is one of the oldest forts in India built by the Rajput Katoch dynasty and has a rich history dating back to the 4th century BC. This is a must visit fort but unfortunately we could not visit it.
Jwala ji is located in the Kangra district, around 30 km from Dharamsala. It is a popular Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Jwala Devi, known for its eternal flame, which is believed to have been burning for thousands of years. Jawala Ji, also spelled as Jwala devi temple is considered one of the 51 Shaktipeeths of India.
Jwala Ji Mandir Darshan
While driving back to Delhi from Dharamsala we went to Jwala Ji Mandir for darshan. Starting at 6 am from Dharamshala, we reached Jawala ji Mandir 7 am. After Darshan and seeking blessings from Jawalaji Mata, we were speeding on our way to Delhi by 730 am. This is the best way to end your trip of Dharamshala. Jai Jwala Ji.