July 2008
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Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh

Best time to visit: April to June and September to November. Avoid the monsoons. The climate of Dharamsala is pleasant during summer and very cold in winters.
Altitude: 1500 meters
Clothings : Summer – Light woollens, Winter – Heavy woollens

Dharamsala is a charming little hill station town located in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, developed in the nineteenth century by the British. Dharamsala literally means the Holy Refuge, as it is the place where a large number of Tibetan people migrated here after the annexation of Tibet by China in 1959. Since then it became a major spiritual centre for Tibetan people and the Buddhist community. Its a salubrious climate with a magnificent backdrop of the Dhauladhar ranges makes it one of the popular hill stations in India.
Dharamshala is the district hqr. of Kangra district. This is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 18kms. north east of Kangra town. The hill station is heavily wooded with oak and conifer trees with snow capped mountains enfolding three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snow line is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill resort and it is possible to trek to snow point after an early morning’s start. Dharamsala is surrounded by deodhar forests and provides a superb view of the great granite mountains that almost cover the town.
It is divided into two distinct parts. Lower Dharamshala has civil offices and business establishments with courts, and Kotwali Bazar. Upper Dharamshala compose of places with names which bear witness to its history like McLeod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj. Since 1960, when it became a temporary hqrs. of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Dharamshala has risen to international fame as “The Little Lhasa in India”.

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Things to do:
Trekking: An easy trek is from Dharamsala, via Bhagsunath (11 km) to Triund (9 km, 2,800 m) and back to Dharmshala (17 km). A one day extension at Triund opens possibilities of a climb upto the meadows. To add more challenge to this trek is a week-long trek crossing the Dhauladhar range over the 4,300 m high Indrahar pass into Chamba district.
Shorter walks are a 2 kms long walk to Bhagsung – 3 kms to Dharamkot – 8 kms to Triund – 5 kms to Snow Line of Ilaqa Got.
Hang-gliding: Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh is an attractive site for hang gliding. The hilly environs with wide landscapes provide an ideal opportunities for hang gliding specially as the thermal updrafts in the area are conducive.
Learning the Ancient Art of Yoga and Meditation in the Various Centres located 12 kms from Dharamshala. Several meditation centres have mushroomed here due to the calm and scenic location. For Yoga lessons, head for the Iyengar Himalayan Yoga center.
Fishing: In the river Beas between Nadaun and the Pong Dam. Get your angling gears ready as here you can bask a chance to fish for Mahaseer.

Places to visit:
Macleodganj – It is main place for Tibetan settlement and the residence for Dalai Lama. It is popular for its colourful Tibetan bazaars and delicious cuisines showing all aspects of Tibetan culture. It also has the school of Tibetan studies and an Institute of Performing Art. It is now one of the major centre for Tibetan Culture.
Namgyal Monastery – This was founded by the third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso in 1575 and later called the Namgyal monastery or the victorious monastery. It is now an important centre for Tibetan studies in Dharamsala. It contains large gilded bronzes of Buddha, Avalokitesvara and Padmasam-bhava.
The Kangra Art Museum – It has a large collection of miniature paintings from the Kangra School of Art. It also has a collection of jewellery, woodcarving objects and traditional embroidered Kangra costumes.
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives – Located at the central administrative compound of the southern end of McLeod Ganj, the library has a good collection of original Tibetan manuscripts including some ancient texts and photographs.
Norbuligka: Dedicated towards the preservation of Tibetan arts and crafts in a centre that asks you to spend time over there. Set in the style of a Japenese garden, Norbulingka has a temple, souvenir shop and Losel Dolls Museum and a beautiful cafe, Norling. There are also metal and wood workshops where you can see people indulged in crafting.
St. John’s Church (8 kms): This Gothic style church has attractive stained glass windows. Lord Elgin, one of the few viceroys of British occupied India, to die in office, is buried here, according to his last wish, as it reminded him of his beloved native Scotland.
Triund: At the foot of the Dhaula Dhar is Triund which is an 8 km trek.
Bhagsunath Falls: At a distance of 11kms. from the market complex of Dharamshala, Bhagsunag can be approached by road. There is an old temple, and a fresh water spring. Further about 2kms. are the beautiful Bhagsunag water falls.
War Memorial (2 kms): Set amidst beautiful surroundings, this memorial is built near the entry point to Dharamshala and is dedicated to Himachali war heroes
Dal Lake: The lake lies amidst hills and stately fir trees 11kms. from Lower Dharamshala and is connected by a motorable road. It is the starting point of excursions and trekking and is located next to the Tibetan Children’s village.
Jwalamukhi Temple: Dedicated to the “Goddess Of Light”, the temple is one of the most popular Hindu temples in northern India. There is no idol of any kind as the flame is considered as a manifestation of the goddess. An eternally burning and shining blue flame emanates from the rock sanctum and is fed by the priests with the offerings of devotees.
Trilokpur: situated 41 kms. from Dharamshala and can be approached by road. The natural cave temple of Trilokpur contains stalactites and stalagamites and is dedicated to Shiva.
Geludpa Monastery: Adjoins the Dalai Lama’s monastery. Here you should see the giant statue of Buddha, Thankas and other ritual and consecrated subjects.
Chamunda Devi Temple (15 km): Not so far from the town is the famous temple with the majestic Dhaulandhars as a backdrop. It is an enchanting spot with glorious views of the mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahala forests.
Palampur (35 km): Palampur is a hilly town and a municipal council in Kangra district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Palampur is famous for its picturesque and snow clad mountains and tea gardens.
Pong Wild life Sanctuary (Kangra): Around 65 km from Dharamshala in the Kangra district, the Pong Lake Sanctuary makes for a good visit if you are interested in seeing animals like Nilgai, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Buar, Clawless Otter and Leapord. The lake is a huge drawer of Siberian Ducks during the winter season. The sanctuary covers an area of 9675 sq km and is best visited during the period of October to February.
Dehra Gopipur: Situated on the bank of the Beas; one can use Dehra as a base for different fishing areas like Pong Dam Pattan, kurn and Nadaun. There are PWD & Forest rest houses for a night stay and one can also visit the famous temple of Chintpurni from here.
Masroor: Known for its monolithic rock temples, Masroor is 15kms. south of Kangra. There are 15 rock cut temples in Indo-Aryan style and richly carved. The temples partly ruined now are profusely decorated with sculptural ornamentations , conceived in the same manner as the great temple of Kailash at Elora in Maharastra with which they bear a striking resemblance. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita.
Andretta: Situated just 13-kms away from Palampur, lies this dwelling place of artist S.Sobha Singh. It houses a gallery of some of his major works and a pottery center.
Dharamkot: (14 km. from) It is situated on the crest of a hill. This favourite picnic spot affords a panoramic view of the kangra valley and the Dhauladhar ranges. One can reach Dharamkot by a simple trek from Bhagsu. Various small restaurant type of shops are situated in the path for a quick relaxation and bevarages.
Baijnath (15 km): At a distance of 16 km from Palampur, Baijnath is a pilgrimage centres of the Hindus in Kangra Distt. Here one finds the oldest existing Shiva temple in the country, believed to have been originally built by the Pandavas close to the Binwa Khad.

How to get there:
Air: Gaggal Airport is the nearest one at a distance of 13 km.
Rail – The nearest railhead is at Pathankot, which is connected to all the major north Indian cities
Road – The hill station is well connected to all parts of Himachal Pradesh by a good motorable road network. The NH1 links it with Pathankot and Jalandhar.

Places to stay:
Anupam Resort,
Nishad Resort,
Grace Cottage,
Snow Hermitage Resorts,
Asia Health Resort
Surya Resorts
Dev Cottages
Natraj Holiday Resorts
Udeechee Huts
Hotel Akashdeep (link)
Club Mahindra Resorts
Spring Valley Resort
White Haven Estate
Glenmoor Cottages

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