Dharamsala can be approached by air from Delhi. The nearest airport is at Gaggal, 13 km away. Pathankot, the nearest broad gauge railway station is 85 km away, Una is 132 km and the toy train station is 17 km at Kangra. Buses for Dharamsala are available at both places. From Pathankot the drive takes about three hours or you can drive from Delhi (489 km) via Chandigarh, Kiratpur,Una,Amb,Bharwain,Kangra and takes about 10 hours.
Best Season / Best time to visit Dharamsala
Dharmasala has a cool climate all through the year but the best season to visit Dharmasala is from mid-September to June.
Winter (December to February) is chilly and freezing. During January the mercury dips below -1 °C. Snowfalls in winters (especially January) are ideal for enjoying honeymoon but extra care needs to be taken.It is advisable to carry woollen clothes.
Summer (March to June) is warm with temperatures between 22 °C to 38 °C. Trekking enthusiasts prefer this season.
Monsoons (July to mid September) with heavy rainfalls can be messy. The months of July and August witness heavy and are avoided by tourists. From the mid of September, rainfall stops.
Autumn (mid-September to November) is beautiful and is ideal for sightseeing and adventure activities.
While winters is ideal for spotting snow capped hilly areas, summer is best for all kinds of tourist activities including trekking in the hilly terrains. The months from September to November are ideal for sight seeing, temple visits, outings and trekking. July to August are not the best time as heavy rainfall can causes road blocks.
Mc Leodganj is the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile and the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.The Budha temple is situated opposite to the present abode of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and is worth a visit. The Tibetan Institute of performing Arts(TIPA) is 1km. walk from McLeod Ganj and preserves a number of musical dance and theatrical traditions of Tibet.It is also known as ‘Little Lhasa in India’. Dal Lake is situated at a height of 1775m above sea level and is just 2kms from Mc Leodganj.
Masroor is about 55 km from Dharamshala. There are 15 rock-cut temples in Indo-Aryan style and are richly carved. It is a unique monolithic structure in the sub-Himalayan region and is a protected monument.The main shrine contains three stone images of Shri Rama, Lakshmana and Sita. The temple complex is located on a hill and also has a large rectangular water pond. The view of snow clad Dhauladhar is amazing from the temple premises.
Triund is a popular picnic spot at an height of 2827 m. The area is on the foothills of Dhauladhar range and is 17-kms from Dharamsala. The snow line starts at Ilaqa, which is five kms from Triund. The breathtaking views of the mountains and the valleys make Triund an ideal picnic spot and trekking spot.
Chamunda Devi temple is 17 kms from Dharamshala, dedicated to Goddess Durga or Chamunda, the surroundings of the temple provide an excellent venue for meditation prayers and spiritual attainments. It is an enchanting and charming spot with fascinating view of the Dhauladhar Mountains, rivers and forests. The location of temple was used as a cremation ground by the people of 22 villages and supposed to be a place of solace, spiritual attainments. The temple has artistic carvings on its lintel, pillars and the ceiling. A large number of devotees travel to this place for worship and to attain spiritual peace for their ancestors. The 700 years old temple, Chamunda Devi comprises of big complex with a ‘Kund’ (pond) in it. There is a cave-like scoop located at the back of the temple, representing the stone lingam (embodiment of Shiva).
Brajeshwari Devi is situated in Kangra town & is just 14 kms from Dharamshala- This temple is one of 51 Shaktipeeths in India. The Brajeshwari Devi Temple is located in main Kangra city and has achieved a reputation for wealth, in gold, pearls and diamonds and tempted many invaders over centuries. The State Govt. maintains the temple now and the deity (Maata Brajeshwari) sits under a silver dome with silver umbrellas.
Jwalamukhi is the deity of Flaming Mouth, recognized as one of the 51 Shaktipeeths of India. It is believed to have nine permanent flames named after the goddesses- Mahakali, Anpurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Bindhya Basni, Maha Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi. Sati's tongue had fallen at the very place where Jwalaji Temple is now situated. The tongue of Sati is represented by Jwala (Holy Flame) that is perpetually burning.It is about 56 kms from Dharamshala.
Adventorous Activities in Dharamshala:
Dharamshala is an ideal destination for adventurous enthusiasts as the town offers plenty of activities that one can enjoy here. Some of the adventurous activities in Dharamshala include trekking, paragliding, fishing, rock climbing and angling.
If you are not an adventurous person by nature, you can explore this picturesque town by going for leisure walks in the lap of Himalayas. Trekker’s delight, Dharamshala is a popular base for trekking in the forested Dhauladhar range, equipment can be hired here. The best season for trekking is from April till June and again between September and October.
Seasoned trekkers may try the exhilarating and adventurous stretch from Dharamshala to the Chamba valley, over the Indrahar Pass. Trekkers may also take the route through snowbound Dhauladhar Range terminating at Lamu.
There are some easy treks as well for beginners including the McLeodganj and Dharamshala that stretches from Tang Narwana to Toral Pass. If you are a hard-core trekker then take the route through Bhagsu via Dharamkot to Triund and enjoy an exquisite view of the peaks of the Himalayas.
Rock climbing is another activity in Dharamshala that you can indulge in a remote part of the Himalayas. Dharamshala-Nayagraon is one of the popular tracks for rock climbing.
You can spendyour time in the lap of nature and enjoy fishing and angling in the small streams and rivers around Dharamshala. The 20-km stretch in River Beas from Nadaun to the Pong Dam is popular for fishing.
Paragliding is another outdoor activity that you may enjoy in Dharamshala
At Dharamshala you can do so many things .
McLeodganj is famous for various authentic Tibetan products like carpets, thangkas, jewellery, and other knick-knacks. Just a kilometre away from McLeodganj is the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) where you can find musical, dance, and theatrical traditions of Tibet.
Visit Losel Doll Museum which is located in the Norbulingka complex to explore the history of Tibet. The museum showcases elaborately detailed beautiful dolls that depict the costumes of each region of Tibet. You can also visit Museum of Kangra Art at Kotwali Bazaar. The museum has a rare collection of miniature paintings from the Kangra School, in addition to local jewellery, traditional wood carvings with some of the exhibits dating back to the fifth century.
If all that sightseeing has made you hungry then you can just drop in to one of the restaurants or café scattered around McLeodganj for some traditional Tibetan, Israeli or even a German cuisine.
The main shopping area in Dharamshala is in McLeodganj, offering range of handicraft items including woollens, carpets, metal ware, Thangkas, and jewellery.
The handicraft items sold in Dharamshala are created by the local artisans; these products reflect excellent craftsmanship and artistic calibre of the people.
The Kotwali Bazaar is the prime shopping destination. The Tibetan carpets and rugs sold in this market are worth buying. The vivid colours, traditional motifs and unique artwork on the carpets depict the Tibetan culture.
You may also like other Tibetan handicrafts including hat, the Chubas (traditional outfit of the Tibetan women) and bags that make for some great souvenirs as well. Don’t forget to buy Thangkas, as your r shopping in Dharamshala will be incomplete without buying them.
Easily available in almost all the shops in Dharamshala, Thangkas are brightly coloured cloth paintings depicting Buddhist culture, fair and festivals. Kangra Style of paintings depicting the court scenes or the love story between Radha and Krishna of the mythological era, are other must-buy items in Dharamshala.
Wooden carvings on bamboo are popular among tourists visiting Dharamshala. Tourists can visit Norbulingka Institute on Khanyara Road to check out the artwork. Silk and woollen woven scarves, embroidered kurtas are also worth including to your shopping list. Don’t forget to add Kangra Valley Green Tea as well to the shopping list.