Dharamsala and McLeodganj : What’s In There For You


Located in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh the hill station of Dharamsala has gained global popularity as today it is the home of the Dalai Lama. The snow clad Dhauladhar ranges offers a grand backdrop to the hill town of Dharamsala.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Image source redwhitelost

Established by the British in the Mid-19th century, located on the lower spurs of the Dhauladhar Range. This picturesque  town consists of two sections- the lower town with the main bus stand and bazaar, and the upper town, known as McLeodganj, 7 km to its north, which is the destination of most foreign visitors. There is little of interest in the lower town, apart from the lively Kotwali Bazaar and the Museum of Kangra Art. The Museum has an excellent collection of Kangra miniatures, and also houses a school which teaches the art of miniature painting.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Temple Road and ThardoLing Road, from Tsug la Khang | Image Source mcleodganj

McLeodganj, the upper town, named after David McLeod, the lieutenant governor of Punjab in 1848, is primarily a Tibetan settlement. Its focal point is the Tsuglagkhang complex, located at the southern edge of the town, which contains the residence of the Dalai Lama (not open to visitors). The Namgyal Monastery where monks can be seen talking about Buddhism is a serene place with picturesque surroundings.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Image source – Wikipedia

The Tsuglagkhang Temple is a simple hall, painted in yellow.  The temple has a raised dais from where the Dalai Lama holds discourses, and three beautiful images from the Buddhist Pantheon-Sakyamuni (the historical Buddha), Avalokitesvara, and Padmasambhava resides here. The Dalai Lama is believed to be an incarnation of Avalokitesvara.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Tsuglagkhang Temple| Image source – Tripadvisor

Another temple, the Kalachakra Temple in the same complex has an intricate mural of the Kalachakra (“wheel of time“) and beautiful sand mandalas, painstakingly created by the monks over a period of time and then ritually destroyed.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Norbulingka Institute| Image source makemytrip

Situated at the northern edge of town are the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, and the beautiful Norbulingka Institute, where traditional arts and crafts are promoted and kept alive.

Gangchen Kyishong, the administrative centre of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, is midway between the upper and lower towns. This complex includes the excellent Library Of Tibetan Works and Archives, a museum on the first floor with bronze images and thangkas, as well as the Institute of Tibetan Medicine.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Nechung Monastery| Image Source robert-zeller.org

The Nechung Monastery, the seat of the Tibetan state oracle, whose predictions about major events in the coming year carry great weight in the Tibetan community.

Towards the Dharamshala town on the road to  Kotwali Bazaar, is the picturesque church of St-John-in-the-wilderness, a grey stone structure built in 1852. Brass plaques and superb Belgian stained-glass windows can be seen inside the church. The tomb of Lord elgin, the British viceroy who died here in 1863 while on holiday, lies in the churchyard.

Nearby Must See Places


dharamsala and mcleodganj
Dharamkot| Image source – Flickr

The pretty village of Dharamkot, north of McLeodganj, is reached by a 3-km long road, lined with deodar and oak trees. There are superb views of the Kangra valley from the Village.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Bhagsu Falls| Image source – Tripadvisor

Bhagsu Falls, with the famed Bhagsunath Temple of Lord Shiva. A well known tourist attraction and a pilgrimage for Hindus the water fall here is an absolute marvel to look at.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Kangra Fort | Image source – Wikipedia

Kangra Fort is the largest fort in Himachal and is located about 20 kms away from Dharamshala is  one of the oldest forts in India dating back to 4th cemturay BC.

dharamsala and mcleodganj
Baijnath | Image source – Wikipedia

Baijnath the temple town with a Shiva temple that dates back to 9th century is an interesting place with beautiful surroundings and magnificent architecture.

How To Reach

By Air : Gaggal (13 kms ). One can get flights to Gaggal from Delhi . Chandigarh ( 275 kms) .

By Bus : Well connected from Delhi and other parts of north India via buses and taxis.

McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala along with offering magnificent beauty of mountains, valleys and in depth knowledge of Tibetan culture is a well-known  starting point of various treks.

Read also Dharamsala Adventure Activities