Queen Of The Hills
Set against the backdrop of the dramatic Dhauladhar mountains, Dharamsala is perched on the high slopes in the upper reaches of Kangra Valley . The town is divided into two distinct and widely separated sections, Upper and Lower Dharamsala, which differ almost a thousand metres in height.
Today, Dharamsala has become the synonymous to the Tibetan government in exile and the home of Tibetan leader Dalai Lama. Even if the Tibetan community dominates the town, still it has retained the colonial lifestyle and British fervour.
Dharamsala over looks the plains and is surrounded by dense pine trees and Deodar forests. A nearby snowline with numerous streams and cool healthy atmosphere makes the surroundings very attractive.
Dharamsala is a busy bazaar town and has established itself as the travellers base camp, who come to explore the nearby mountains. The Kotwali Bazaar provides the entire colour and characteristic of a small town, which is mixed with the simple life style.
The colourful temple and Gompas, which reflect the culture of Tibet, adds attraction for the visitor. The Kangra museum gives an overview of the rich past of the region and on the other hand there are institutes that have been established to preserve the Tibetan art, cultures and traditions.
Places to Visit in Dharamshala
The variety Dharamshala offers ranges from temples, churches and monasteries to museums, ancient towns and places of natural beauty. Every season and every spot has its own offering.
At the very start of town, landscaped lawns fill a pine grove where a monument has been raised to commemorate the post independence war heroes of Himachal Pradesh. Kangra Art Museum.
This treasure love of the Kangra valley's arts, crafts and rich past displays artifacts that date back to the 5th century. It includes gallery of Kangra's famous miniature paintings and a representative collection of sculptures, pottery and anthropological items. 'Shamianas' and dresses used by local royalty, old carved doors, jails, lintels and pandals are also on display. Coins, jewellery and manuscripts are included. A section houses the work of contemporary artists, sculptors and photographers. The library is just below this.
11 km from Dharamshala and surrounded by deodar trees, the lake fills a mountain bowl, On the motor - road, this is an enchanting and serene picnic spot.
St. John's Church
8 km from Dharamshala, between Forsythganj and McLeodganj is the charming dressed- stone church of St. John in the wildness. Under the shade of deodar branches, a memorial has been erected over the body of the British viceroy, Lord Elgin who died at Dharamshala in 1863. There is a wall tended old graveyard on these grassy slopes.
Often called the' Little Lhasa' at 1770 m, this is the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan government-in-exile has been here for over three decades. The impressive monastery has larger than life images of the Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avalokteshwara. The large Tibetan community and the presence of traditional architectural designs drawn from Tibet have enhanced the area. A host of Tibetan handicrafts, curios and garments are available on sale and every Sunday, a flea-market appears.
Close to fresh water springs, this ancient temple is 11 km from Dharamshala. It is a popular picnic spot and the famous slate quarries are close by.
A 3 km level walk from the Kotwali Bazaar leads up to this rock temple.
On the crest of a hill this attractive picnic spot presents a panoramic view of the Kangra valley and the Dhauladhar ranges. This is 11 km from Dharamshala.
Based at the root of the Dhauladhar ranges,Triund is at a height of 2827m and is 17 km from Dharamshala. The snowline starts at llaqua 5 km from here. This is a popular picnic spot and trek route, with spectacular views of the mountains and valleys. There is a lovely forest rest house here.
22 km from Kotwali Bazzar, amidst sylvan surroundings, there is a rest house here. Surrounded by open meadows and thick woods,the Kareri lake is 13 km ahead.
10 km from Dharamshala on the banks of the rivulet Bindu Saras, is an ashram complex established by the late Swami Chinmayananda, a noted exponent of the Gita. The complex includes a 9m high image of Lord Hanuman, a magnificent Ragunath Temple, a meditation hall, a school, and a health and recreation center.
13 km south of Kangra is this large, monolithic temple, similar to the temples of Ellora. With rich ornamentation, this is the only shrine carved out of live rock in north India. Images of Lord Rama, Laxman and Sita are installed here.
41 km from Dharamshala,on the highway to Pathankot, there is a cave temple with a stalactite and stalagmite dedicated to Lord Shiva.
80 km from Dharamshala, this historic town is famous for its wall paintings, temples and fort. Here, the festival of holiday a major event.
13 km from Palampur, the famous artist S. Sobha Singh lived here for several years. A gallery houses some of his major works. Also, there is a pottery centre at Andretta.
The temple of Jawalamukhi, Chamunda Devi and Briheshweri Devi are other pilgrim centres close to Dharamshala. The forts of Kangra and Mangarh are other attractions.
Adventure Activities and Sports :
Between May and October, the Dhauladhar ranges offer an enormous variety of trekking and rock climbing. Himachal's mountaineering institute has a branch at Dharamshala.
The 20 km stretch of the river Beas between Nadaun and the Pong Dam offers ample opportunities in angling for mahseer.
For local handicrafts at Kotwali bazar, Tibetan handicrafts and carpets at McLeodganj.
HOW TO GET THERE :
Air: Dharamsala can be approached by air from Delhi and the nearest Airport is at Gaggla, just 13-km away from the town.
Rail: Pathankot is 85-km and is the nearest railhead for Dharamsala. Trains from all over the country make a stop over at Pathankot and from here it is a three-hour journey to Dharamsala.
Road: From Manali too bus services are available to this place. One can drive from Delhi via Chandigarh , Kiratpur, Bilaspur and it's an 8-hours journey. From Delhi and Shimla , luxury buses ply to Dharamsala.
PLACES TO STAY
Dharamsala's accommodation options include HPTDC's hotels, private hotels, guest houses, PWD and Forest rest houses, which are located in and around the place and are available at resonable prices.
Dharamsala offers mainly the handicraft items, which are manufactured by the local artisans. The Kotwali Bazaar is one of the main shopping areas in the town. The main attraction of the town is Tibetan carpets. These carpets are delicately woven and are decorated with vivid colours. The Motifs on these carpets are either inspired from nature or from the monuments or carry a description of some folk story of the Tibetan cultural heritage. Over all, these carpets carry a totally different style and attraction from their counterparts in Kashmir or the Persian carpets. Further the local handicrafts are also available in the market. Tibetan Textile can be purchased from the office of Tibetan handicrafts. One can always bargain items like the traditional hat, the Chubas, the traditional wear for the Tibetan women, bags, trousers etc.
As Dharamsala is located in the Himalayas, the climate is very pleasant during the summers but in winters the cold is very bad. Temperature can drop below the freezing point during the winters and heavy woollen clothes are required. During the summers the weather is mild and light woolens and cottons are recommended. The best time to visit the place is during the summers when the cold has shed its biting teeth and there is plenty of Sunshine. But avoid coming here during the monsoon months, as there is a danger of landslides.
Dharamshala at a glance :
Area : 5739 sq. kms.
Population : 1,149,744
Altitude : Between 1250 m to 1550 m (Dharamshala)
Languages : Hindi, Punjabi, English and Pahari are understood & spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade
Temperature Max. 38 C in June: Min. 0 C in Jan.
Annual Rainfall Varies between 290 cms. To 380 cms.
Second highest rainfall in the country
Best Season : March to June & September to December
Winter Clothing : Heavy Woollens
Summer Clothing : Light Woollen and tropical
Places of Interest around Dharamshala :
Mcleod Ganj, Bhagsunag Falls, St. John's Church, Dal Lake, Dharamkot, Triund, War Memorial, Kunal Pathri, Kareri, Dehra Gopipur, Nurpur, Trilokpur, Palampur