Dharamshala Tourist Guide - Discover Buddhism and Peace in Little Lhasa

Dharamshala Tourist Guide - Discover Buddhism and Peace in Little Lhasa - Destination Overview
  • Location: Himachal Pradesh,India -
  • Altitude: 1200 meters
  • Nearest Airport: Kangra Gaggal airport or Chandigarh
  • Nearest Train Station: Kangra Narrow Guage, Una Himchal Broad guage
  • How to reach: Best Reachable by Road from Chandigarh, approx 100 kms away. Alternatively reach Kangra by flight and Dharamshala is just 40 kms away
  • Season to Visit: Dharamshala can be visited in all seasons, However best time to visit is from July till December

Dharamshala Tourist Guide - Discover Buddhism and Peace in Little Lhasa &  Place of Exceptional Beauty

Dharamsala has become the synonym to the Tibetan Government in exile and the home of Tibetan leader Dalai Lama and is often known as "Little Lhasa in India". Even if the Tibetan community dominates the town, still it has retained the colonial lifestyle and British fervor. 

Beautiful - Dharamshala

Dharamshala is one of the most fascinating hill station located in the upper hilly terrains of Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India.The mighty Dhauladhar Mountain Range in backdrop with dense pine & deodar forests give a very eye soothing view.  The city has manifold attractions which attract the tourists for a visit to it over and over again. Dharamshala has several streams, cool and pleasant breeze, attractive surroundings; it is a perfect holiday destination for all seasons and for all reasons. Dharamshala is also an excellent shopping destination where one can view the colour & lifestyle of the entire local community and it also offers a plethora of adventure activities and sports such as fishing, trekking, rock climbing, paragliding, rappelling etc.

                                                     Mighty Dhauladhar Ranges in Dharamshala

Top 25 Reasons to Visit Dharamshala

  • Meet Tibet Govt in Exile Learn and Follow Buddhism - 

    The Dharamsala is home to Tibetan government in exiles since 1960 & has become now a international Buddhist centre. Tibet was an autonomous kingdom ruled by the spiritual dynasty of the Dalai Lama until 1949, when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army invaded the country. Since then, more than 250,000 Tibetans have fled on foot over the Himalaya seeking asylum in India.Thre are over 200 monasteries and nunneries and over 20,000 monks and nuns. While Indian Buddhism was on its decline in India, Dharamshala has succeeded to revive it.. Today Dharamsala is a heaven for peace and harmony & home to several Buddhist temples and monasteries.

    The Dalai Lama also fled Tibet and was granted asylum in Dharamsala in 1959. The headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile is located in the village of Gangchen Kyishong, a short walk below Mcleod Ganj, where a team of politicians continues to fight for the rights of those still being oppressed in Tibet.

  • Chance to Meet Dalai Lama - While visiting Dharamshala, There are opportunities to meet the Dalai Lama face-to-face during your stay in Mcleod Ganj, but private audiences are rarely granted.​
  • Mighty Snow Capped Dhauladhars - To see the massive snow capped peaks of the Dhauladhar which rise like giant waves of frozen ocean giving a breathtaking view. No where in world there are so high mountain ranges just rising above the plains dramatically.
  • Dalai Lama of Tibet lives in Dharamshala and converted the place into Tibetan capital in Exile.School of Tibetan Studies has rare manuscripts and ancient texts.
  • Revisit The History - Town still lives in the era of colonial aura, Visit elegant cottages at Forsythganj and visit the St John Church where former viceroy to India, Lord Ilgin is buried.
  • Transition from Colonian aura of Forsythganj to Mcleodganj is even more unique, where colonial aura is replaced with Bustling Tibetan Bazaars selling food, carpets and books.
  • Visit the Highest Cricket Ground with best view ever in the whole world.
  • Visit Martyrs Memorial - Located right at the entry of Dharamsala, the monument is built to commemorate the war heroes of 1947-48, 1962, 1965, 1971. Some real tanks and mortars are placed at the garden.
  • Visit Kangra Art Museum - Located at Kotwali Bazaar and you can see kangra valley's arts, Crafts, Rich past displaying artefacts dating back to 5th centuary. It has gallary of Kangra's miniature paintings, Sculptors and photographs.
  • Naddi and Talnoo - Located 1.5 kms from Dal lake, is a scenic spot of Naddi offering clear view of mighty Dhauladhars, sunset point, trek to Guna temple and Kareri lake.
  • Norbulingka Institute - Famous place which has traditional art crafts of Tibet, Thangka paintings, buddha temple and garden
  • Gyto Monastery - Located at Sidhwari, 6kms on palampur road, Home of Karmapa Lama, Karmapa is considered third most revered spiritual guru after Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama.
  • Kangra Fort - Emperor Akbar made many attempts to capture this fort but was not successful. The historic fort is maintained by Archeology dept of India. the Fort stands as a witness to Mahmud of Gazni to Emperor Jahangir. It is also known a purana kila and approachable by narrow road. The kangra Fort walls are impressive and visible from a long distance. the fort has temple inside. A must visit place for Tourists.
  • Maharana Pratap sagar Wet land - 

Buddhism in Dharamshala - Divine Light of Buddhism Spreading in World

Dalai Lama's Abode in Dharamshala is epicentre of Buddhism 

Buddha - Brief Information

Prince Siddartha also known as Gautama Buddha  was born a Hindu in the Kshatriya caste of warrior aristrocrats in approx. 563 BC-483 BC , in the Shakya clan's village of Kapilvastu in the foothills of the Himalayas.now known as 'Lumbini' in Nepal.

Siddartha married and had a son, but at age of 29, he left the Palace in search of salvation of the soul..after witnessing a dead body, old age person and a diseased beggar outside his Palace. He lead a life of an ascetic and wandered around in search for answers!! Around 528 BC he concentrated on meditation under a 'Bodhi Tree' in Bodhgaya and realised the 'Middle Path' which is the base of Dalai Lama's Tibetan Buddism in Dharamsala, India.

This 'Enlightenment' is called ..'A State of Bodhi' and hence the name 'Buddha' or 'The Enlightened One' was given to him by his followers!

For the remaining 45 years of his life he travelled the Gangetic Plain of Central India teaching and founded the community of Buddhist Monks and Nuns.. the Sangha to continue His spiritual teachings after his body had become one with the universe. Buddha died at Kushinagar, India at the age of 80. His last meal was 'sukara-maddava' and His last words were "All things which are made of parts eventually come apart. Be mindful and achieve Enlightenment!"

The rituals of Tibetan Buddhism along with the concept of Universal Peace and Compassion have their roots in Buddha's Middle Path Philosophy.

Tibetan Bon Tradition in Dharamshala

Tibet's oldest spiritual tradition is Bon religion. 'Tonpa Shenrab', the founder of this religion, said to have been born in the mythical land of Olmo Lung Ring, renounced the world at the age of 30. Like all 'Bodisattvas' he lead a life of austerity and helped people out of their misery and suffering. During his time he arrived in Tibet in the region of Mount Kailash known as 'The Land of Zhang Zhung'...the historical principal seat of Bon Culture and doctrine.

Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala is the Head of Tibetan Buddhism and has stressed the importance of preserving the traditions of Bon religion as the indigenous source of ancient Tibetan culture. The doctrine taught by Tonpa Shenrab are classified into two types..'The Four Portals and One Treasury' and 'The Nine Ways of Bon.' The Nine ways of Bon is further synthesised into three : The first four as the 'Casual Ways', the second four as the 'Resultant Ways' and the ninth one as the 'Way of Great Completion!' These are all contained in the Bon Canon compromising more than 200 volumes under four sections. The 'Sutras'..the 'Prefection of Wisdom'.. the 'Tantras'..and last is 'Knowledge'.

Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism

The tradition of Nyinmapa Buddhism has its roots in the teachings of Guru Padmasambhava who came to Tibet in 817 C.E. at the invitation of King Trisong Deutsan to help propagate Tibetan Buddhism. He hid hundreds of treasures in the form of scriptures, images and ritual articles which he said would only be revealed at a certain time when his disciples were prepared mentally to understand and accept them. However the Tantra teachings he gave to his 25 principal disciples were acts of spiritual accomplishments.. Namkhe Nyingpo, for travelling on beams of light, Khamdro Yeshe Tsogyal for reviving the dead, Vairochana for his intuition , Nanam Yeshe for soaring in the sky, Kawa Peltseg for reading others mind and Jnana Kumara for his miraculous powers.

The Nyingma doctrine constitutes of the the lineage of revealed teachings of Padmasambhava , Tantric teachings of of many Indian saints Vimalamitra , Shantipa, Dharmakirti..., esoteric texts, the Dzogchen doctrine and the Maha Maya Cycle of teachings by Vairochana.

The Nyingmapa tradition in Tibetan Buddhism divides the entire Buddhist teachings into nine vehicles. The three common vehicles compromising of the Hearer, Solitary Realiser and the Boddhisattva. The three outer Tantras consist of Kriya Tantra which places greater emphasis on Disciplined behaviour. The Upa Tantra has a deep affinity and development of the soul and the Yoga tantra aimed at developing inner strength. The last three innermost Tantras - Maha Yoga emphasis on the generation stage in which the ordinary level of Human attachment is eliminated through sacred Vision.

The present head of the Nyingmapa sect is 'His Holiness Penor Rimpochey.'

The Gelupa Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism

The Kadampa tradition founded by Atisha was the inspirational source for the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419). He was born in Tsongkha region of Amdo province. At the age of seven he was given the name of Lobsang Drakpa and could recite by heart the texts of 'Expression of the Names of Manjushri.'

Tsongkhapa travelled far and wide in search of knowledge and studied all the Buddhist traditions. Along with all his intensive studies he engaged in extensive Meditation Retreats...wherein he performed millions of prostrations, mandala offerings and often had visions of 'Meditational Deities' specially of Manjushri with whom he used to have spiritual debate. He was a great scholar, teacher and wrote 18 volumes of teachings. He passed away at the age of 60 entrusting his throne in Ganden to Gyeltsabjey, a tradition which is followed till today..!

The 99th successor and the formal head of Gelupa is Ven. Yeshi Dhondup. The major Ganden Monastery was founded by Je TsongKhapa in 1409. By the turn of the 16th century this tradition had spread enormously as Tibet's political strength had grown with the Third Dalai Lama..Sonam Gyatso(1543-1588), bringing the 'Mongols' back to the religion of Buddhism. The Great Fifth Dalai Lama had complete Spiritual and Temporal rule of Tibet. He founded the Ganden Phodrang Government which continues to funtion under His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet in Exile in Dharamsala, India. 

The Biggest centre of Buddhism outside Tibet is Tsuglagkhang Complex, the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet, which has a large meditation hall containing some beautiful statues and thangkas, where you can meditate while listening to monks chanting from 6-8 a.m. and watch monks debate between 4 -7 p.m. The Tsuglagkhang is the monastery of the Dalai Lama and is located just in front of his residence.

Meeting Dalai Lama

While visiting Dharamshala, There are opportunities to meet the Dalai Lama face-to-face during your stay in Mcleod Ganj, but private audiences are rarely granted.

Mahayana Buddhism in Dharamshala

Many tourists come to Dharamshala to study Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism and Tibetan history.  In Mcleodganj, there is  a world famous Tushita Meditation Centre for the study and practice of Buddhism from the . Here teachings, meditations and practices based on the tradition of Lama Tsong Khapa of Tibet (the Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism), are taught by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.  The course offered covers Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and meditation from a modern perspective and apply ancient knowledge to increase peace, happiness, and compassion in your daily lives.

Tushita Meditation Centre - Dharamshala

Meditation starts at 6AM in the meditation/learning hall, & studenst spend 45 minutes meditating.  Meditation is followed by breakfast that usually consisted of porridge, fruit, bread, peanut butter and chai.  The rest of the morning  is normally spent in the meditation  hall where following topics are covered

The Mind and Emotions
Love and Compassion
The Nature of Reality

At noon, healthy, vegetarian food is offered as lunch. After Lunch, there is lesson on  karma yoga, which is basically daily tasks assigned to do as selfless work.  The rest of the late afternoon into the evening is spent in the meditation centre for more teachings until 6:30PM.  After the last teaching of the day, Dinner is served, which is a vegetarian soup, followed by another 45 minute meditation session.

In the beds at night, students are encouraged to write in  journals or read material on Tibetan Buddhism.  

On the last night of the course, a ceremony is held at the stupa located just outside the meditation/  hall.  A stupa is the earliest, and some consider most significant, architectural Buddhist  expression-monument in Buddhism and is used by Buddhists as a place of worship.  students, lit candles and place them around the stupa.  The light of the candles symbolizes burning away mental afflictions of desire, aggression, greed, jealousy, pride and so forth.  

Perched atop the green hills that rise above Dharamsala valley sits the surprisingly busy village of Mcleod Ganj, home to the Tibetan government in exile and the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Flanked by the snow-capped Himalaya mountains and filled with countless courses and activities at a minuscule price, the little town has also attracted a significant population of expatriate volunteers and students of Buddhist philosophy.

Like the other popular traveler hangout in India’s Himachal Pradesh state—Manali—Mcleod Ganj is well prepared to receive the thousands of backpackers and tourists that come for the spiritual ambiance, to help Tibetans refugees or to simply escape the heat and chaos of the low-lands and spend a few days relaxing in the cool mountain air.
Yoga Learning in Dharamshala

Mcleod Ganj is home to countless yoga schools, offering Hatha, Ashtanga, and Kundalini yoga classes through daily drop-in sessions, as well as week-long intensive courses and teacher training courses that last a month or more. Classes, which cost Rs100 per session, are held in the morning, afternoon and evening at the following schools:

Universal Yoga (Highly recommended), with international classes and locations.
Location: Yongling School, Jogibara Rd.

Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Center 
Location: Dharamkot Rd

Yogi Cottage (Yoga alliance approved, also offer reiki courses)
Location: Bhagsu Rd

Kundalini Yoga 
Location: Thardoeling, Near HH Dalai Lama temple

Kailash School of Yoga & Holistic Healing 
Location: 100 meters from main chowk.

Aku Pema Performance Art 

Location: Norbulingka Institute 

Established in 2000, Aku Pema Performance Art group aims to preserve traditional Tibetan art and culture. International visitors and volunteers are welcome to contribute and enjoy the cultural programs. They seek volunteers able to teach: group music and singing, English language (any level and age), and dancing (any style).

Meditation & Buddhist Philosophy Courses - Dharamshala

Tushita Meditation Centre 
Tushita offers 10-day Introduction to Buddhism/meditation retreats, 8-day non-residential courses, and programs for advanced students, all in the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. Silence is the norm most of the day, but discussion groups do take place after philosophy lessons. The price of around Rs500 per day includes lodging, lessons, and three vegetarian meals a day. 
Location: On the road between Dharamkot and Mcleod Ganj.

Vipassana Meditation Center 
This center, located in nearby Dharamkot, runs austere 10-day vipassana (mindfulness) meditation retreats, during which you must remain completely silent. The retreats, which run from May to November, are intense (up to 14 hour days), but no previous meditation experience is required, as you will be asked to set aside any practice while learning the vipassana technique. It is recommended that beginners attend a course like those offered by Tushita — a mix of meditation, philosophy, and discussions. The retreat is free, but donations are welcome. 

Library of Tibetan Works and Archives 
Located inside the government compound at Gangchen Kyishong downhill from Mcleod Ganj, this library hosts a number of Buddhist philosophy courses throughout the year. Most teaching is in Tibetan with an English interpreter. Most courses last from two to three months and cost Rs200, in addition to the Rs50 registration fee. The library also runs long-term Tibetan- and Hindi-language courses for beginners and advanced students for Rs250 per month plus a Rs50 registration fee.

Tibetan Buddhism and language 
The organization offers courses in Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Tibetan- and Hindi-language classes. 

Cooking Classes in Dharamshala - Mcleodganj

Mcleod Ganj is a great place to learn how to cook authentic Indian and Tibetan cuisine. Classes cover everything from Tofu Thukpa to South Indian Masala Dosas. Prices run about Rs250-500 per class, which usually last two hours. There are a number of entrepreneurs who run courses of dubious quality out of their homes, so it is best to be circumspect and stick with one of the following established kitchens:

Lha Charitable Trust 
Offers courses on how to make different kinds of momos, Tibetan breads, and Tibetan noodles. Rs300 for a 2-hour class.
Location: Temple Road

Lhamo's Kitchen 
The organization teaches traditional Tibetan vegetarian food with different courses every day, including soups, momos, and Tibetan bread. It all takes place in Lhamo's single room house right in the center of town. Classes Rs250, 3-day courses Rs550.
Location: Bhagsu Rd

Mr Sangye's Kitchen 
Tibetan food, with different courses every day.
Location: Joqibara Rd, next to Tashi Choeling Monastery. Classes Rs250.

Namgyal Monastery Dharamsala, India

Namgyal  Monastery is a Tibetan buddhist monastery closely associated with all the Dalai Lamas since the third. Namgyal Monastery is the personal monastery of the 14th Dalai Lama.

Its primary role is to assist with rituals involving the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Its main tantric practices reportedly include those of Kalachakra, Yamantaka, Chakrasamvara, Guhyasamaja, and Vajrakilaya.

Founded in either 1564 or 1565 as Phende Lekshe Ling (on the foundations of the since defunct monastery called Phende Gon) by the Third Dalai Lama Gyalwa Sonam Gyatso, Namgyal Monastery was renamed in honour of the female long-life deity Namgyälma in 1571.

Since the completion of construction on the Potala Palace (begun by the Fifth Dalai Lama), Namgyal was traditionally housed in the red section at the top of that building in Lhasa.

Following the Tibetan uprising of 1959, Namgyal Monastery relocated to Dharamshala, India, where it continues, active, to this day. According to Namgyal's website, Namgyal (Dharamshala) has "nearly 200" monks (up from 55 in 1959), representing all four main Tibetan monastic lineages.

In 1992, on the advice of the present Dalai Lama, Namgyal established an American branch in Ithaca, New York, including within it the Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies. On February 8 of 1996, the monks of Namgyal Monastery's Institute of Buddhist Studies offered their first "Blessing of Cyberspace" as part of the "Twenty-four Hours in Cyberspace" event.

In 1998, Namgyal incorporated a Tibetan monastery in Bodhgaya, India, called Gendhen Phelgyeling. That monastery is now known as Namgyal (Bodhgaya), and has 45 monks.

Namgyal (Dharamsala) also manages a temple in Kushinagar (since 1967), and an elderly home in Simla (since 1992).

Whether the People's Republic of China has maintained an institution with the same name inside Tibet is unclear.

Things To do in Dharamshala

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. 

Losel Doll Museum - Norbulingka complex

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.

Kangra Art Museum - Kotwali bazaar

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. 

Mcleodganj Shopping

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. 

Kotwali Bazaar Shopping

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.


Adventure 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

Dharamshala Attractions & Site Seeing

Dalai Lama - Tibetan Govt in Exile

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. 

St John Church in the wilderness - Oldest Cathedrals in North India

St. John in the Wilderness is an Anglican church dedicated to John the Baptist built in 1852, located enroute to McLeodGanj, at Forsyth Gunj. It is set amidst deodar forest, and built in neo-Gothic architecture & is known for its Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin (Mary Louisa Lambton), wife of Lord Elgin.

Popularly known as “St John’s Church in the Wilderness”, located in a densely forested area between ForsythGanj and McLeodGanj, this church is one of the oldest cathedrals in North India.

The church was built during British rule, in the year 1852. It is an Anglican church, complete with bell tower and spire. As the name says, the church is dedicated to St John (1 of 12 apostles of Jesus Christ).

Cemetary at St John in the wilderness

Its churchyard has a cemetary, where many prominant british were buried, important names among them are the graves of David McLeod, lieutenant governor of Punjab, who founded Dharamshala in the mid-19th century, The Churchyard is also final resting place of Lord Elgin, who became Governor-General & Viceroy of India in 1861 during the British Raj, and died at Dharamshala on November 20, 1863, and was buried there.

James Bruce - Lord Elgin - Memorial at St John the Wilderness

The pastures and helpers tell stories and anecdotes regarding the viceroy, and the legacy he left behind. Born in Scotland, there were things that reminded him of his home country that he asked of having his final rights be done within the premises of the St. John’s Church. It is believed that Lord Elgin used to enjoy the walk he often took between Forsytheganj and McLeodganj, this place reminded of his town in Scotland. The memorial of Lord Elgin is truly a wonderful sight. Not everywhere would people be able to see the soul of a great man rest in peace. The church also holds a memorial of Lord Elgin.

Lord Elgin  was Viceroy of India in 1862, and was the first to use Peterhoff, Shimla as the official residence of the Viceroy. He died in 1863 of a heart attack while crossing a swinging rope and wood bridge over the river Chadly  between Kullu and Lahul. He is buried in the church of St. John in the Wilderness in Dharamshala and also has a mamorial built in his name.

Church structure survived the 1905 Kangra earthquake, its spire, Bell tower, was however destroyed. Later, a new bell, cast in 1915 by Mears and Stainbank, was brought from England and installed outside in the compound of the church.

Exceptional Beauty of  St John in the wilderness

The place is an archaeological memorabilia. It has one of the highly characteristic & sophisticated architecture. James Bruce, also known as Lord Elgin, wanted his body to be cremated in the premises of the church of St. John in the Wilderness. 

Surrounded by the deodar trees and establishing a sense of peace and quiet surrounding the church,  This church was built in 1852 AD and is made of stone. The church has a very gothic appearance to it and the interior and exterior walls of the church are of exposed stone whose forbidding appearance is reduced by fine Belgian stained glass windows which is the main attraction and one of the unique features of the church. These stained-glass windows were donated by Lady Elgin since the church graveyard is the final resting place of her husband Lord Elgin.

The other unique features of the church architecture are the polished wood of the altar railing and the brass of the old oil lamps – which now have been modified to hold electric lights. The church has police officers to keep watch and see that no one destroys or damages anything of this ancient monument. 

St John in the wilderness - Timings

Church Timings – The visiting hours are from 10 am to 5 pm each day. On every Sunday, there is service at 11:00 AM. The Church is closed on holidays.The church is kept closed everyday of the week other than for Sundays when mass is held in the morning at 10am in English and 11am in Hindi.

Masroor Monolithic Rock Cut Temple

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

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).

Kangra Devi

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.

Dharamsala - Best Season / Best time to visit 

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.

How to reach Dharamshala


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. 

Dharamshala - A Pictorial Journey - Stunning Pictures of Dharamshala

Dhauladhar Ranges in Dharamshala

Nature at her best in Dharamshala

War Memorial Dharamshala

War memorial Dharamshala-1

Tea Garden in Dharamshal Cheelgarhi

View from InduNag Temple Dharamshala

View From Kunal pathri temple Dharamshala

Hotel Dhauladhar View Kotwali bazaar Dharamshala

Dharamshala Evening Romantic Sky

Dhauladhar inthe background of Kacheri Adda Dharamshala

Dharamshala View from Maximum mall Kotwali Bazaar

Paragliding Spot in Indunag Dharamshala

Snow Covered Dhauladhars in Dharamshala