Dharamshala is a beautiful town in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It lies on the upper reaches of the Kangra valley and smells of enchantment.

The snow-clad Dhauladhars, the whiff of romanticism, the quaint spiritual sway of his holiness – the Dalai Lama and the strong Tibetan influence make Dharamshala a favourite weekend getaway for a lot of people. Dharamshala is all about vibrant Tibetan flags, rolling prayer wheels and the in-sync sound of ringing bells and warbling birds.

Dharamshala: An Overview

Location
North India
State
Himachal Pradesh
Accessibility
Throughout the year
Best Time to Visit
Mid-September to Early December
Nearby Places to Visit
McLeodganj, Triund Peak

How to Reach Dharamshala?

Buses are available from Delhi, Chandigarh and Shimla.
Trains will get you till Pathankot. Dharamshala is a two-hour drive from there
Flights can get you till Ghaggal Airport, which is a mere 1.5-hour drive from Dharamshala.
If in a group, cabs can be hired too where everybody can pool.
Dharamshala

A beautiful village on the outskirts of Dharamshala. Photography by Vinod Kumar

Modes of Internal Transport in Dharamshala

Local buses
Rental Cabs
Auto Rickshaws

Top 5 Locations that Enrich Your Visit to Dharamshala

McleodGanj

Dharamshala

Photography by Manish Kohli

Mcleodganj is often spoken about synonymously with Dharamshala. At many occasions when travellers speak about visiting  Dharamsala, they usually mean Mcleodganj. It’s one of the most popular hangout places. It also happens to be home to thousands of exiled Tibetans and home to His Holiness – The Dalai Lama.

Triund 

Dharamshala

Photography by Harish

Trekkers love Triund. The starting point of Triund trek is galu but you opt for alternative locations as well – Mcleodganj, Bhagsu Nag etc. From galu the entire trek is beautiful. Once you reach Triund, you might as well camp there. It’s worth it. For those of you who cannot hike, hire a pony or a horse but just visit this place. During monsoons, the clouds seem to be settling down under and the misty weather just soaks you completely. The trekking route is closed in the winter months of January and February.

Norbulingka

Dharamshala

Photography by Aparna

If you are in Dharamshala and haven’t been to monasteries and Buddhist temples, you visit will not be deemed complete. Located at a distance of thirty minutes, Norbulingka is a suburb of Dharamshala. The entrance fees are a mere Rs 20. You can (actually should )ask for a guided tour. At the end of the tour, travelers can pay obeisance to the temple, Deden Tsuklagkhang, a magnificent example of Tibetan religious architecture, displaying some of the finest work done by Norbulingka artists. It’s a fine place to regain your inner peace. You can also pick up some souvenirs on your way out.

Cricket Stadium

Dharamshala

Photography by Lokesh Gundan Kajare

The cricket stadium at Dharamshala is by far one of the most picturesque locations to play a cricket match. The snow on the peaks adds to the grandeur of the stadium. Visit here just for the feel even if you’re not much of a cricket fan (Although that is highly unlikely in India).

Dal Lake

Dharamshala

Photography by Victoria

Now don’t confuse it with the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir. Dal lake is a small lake on the outskirts of the main town surrounded by plenty of pine trees. The green vegetation and the blue water is a treat to the eyes. However, lately, the lake hasn’t been maintained very well. So take your call whether you want to pay it a visit or not.

Where to Feed Yourself in Dharamshala?

ILLITERATI CAFÉ

Dharamshala

Photography by Pooja Saraf

A café as well as a bookshop, is one of those places where you can spend time on a good book (excellent collection available) while enjoying a savoury meal. The owner of the cafe is Dutch (and speaks fluent Hindi!) and hence the menu has an interesting variety of options. The pumpkin soup is an all-time hit – chunks of pumpkin with a hint of ginger along with figs, carrots and nuts. Their spinach ravioli served with freshly grated Parmesan cheese is another hot favourite.

WOESER BAKERY

Dharamshala

Photography by Ananya

The most sought after place for all kinds of pastries, tarts, pies and muffins, this is a must-visit for its delectable desserts. The crunchy walnut pastry with its caramelized notes is a speciality and is served with a generous helping of nuts. The carrot cake is delightfully moist and the cream cheese frosting makes it irresistible good. And finally, the coffee served here is among the best in Dharamshala.

MOONLIGHT CAFÉ

Dharamshala

Photography by Rashmi Sahani

When one speaks of ‘Moonlight Café the first thing that comes to mind is the steaming Masala Chai. A trip to the mountains calls for endless cups of hot tea. Moonlight Café’s tea is so good that there is a high chance of visitors consuming copious amounts of it … hardly anyone stops at a single chai ka pyala (cup of tea). This is one of the best cafes for breakfast with a menu offering banana pancakes, waffles and even shakshukas. Shakshuka is a gravy with poached eggs in a tomato base, topped with peppers, cumin seeds and fried onions. For those of you who would like to indulge in a little local savoury,  the Bhagsu Cake is a must-try delicacy. It is a local cake preparation of Dharamshala, named after the famous Bhagsu Village in Mcleodganj. The crust has bread and caramel and the filling inside is pure chocolate.

In case you’d like to view the complete list of most popular eateries in Dharamshala, read my article published on Talking Street –  D’SHALA AND MCLEODGANJ: A FOOD GUIDE
Happy Wayfaring

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