Dharamshala, which attracts a thousands of visitors every year, is a tourism hub of Himachal Pradesh. Being the home to Dalai Lama’s residence, Dharamshala is also the district headquarters of the Kangra district. However, these are not the only reasons why tourists flock here in enormous number every year. The scenic beauty of the waterfalls, greenery, landscapes is no less than visual meditation for people. If you’ve ever been to Himachal Pradesh but never visited Dharamshala, you’re clearly missing out on something. While Shimla is the most visited places in Himachal, Dharamshala is its underdog.
If you’re planning to hit the road and make a short trip to Dharamshala, here are 18 places you should visit:
1. Triund Trek
It is one of the most loved activities by the tourists who visit Dharamshala. After exploring the Tibetan city of Himachal, people often head to Triund to seek some adventure. The trek is almost safe yet full of adventure. People of all age groups can cover this trek without much hassles. The peak is bestowed with enthralling views, with Dhauladhar mountains on one side and Kangra valley on the other.
2. Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
If you’re lucky enough, you can watch an exciting game being played at Dharamshala Cricket Stadium. However, still you can explore this stadium just for the sake of excitement. It is placed at a height of 1,457 metres above the sea level with snow-capped Himalayas surrounding it. The stadium was built in 2003 and it has a unique Tibetan feel to it.
3. Dharamshala War Memorial
This place was built to honour the slain Indian soldiers who lost their life to the battles of 1947, 1962 and 1971. The memorial has the names of the martyrs engraved on it. Just taking a walk through it gives you chills. There is college called GPG College which was built during the Colonial rule. There’s also a cafe which serves lip-smacking snacks.
4. Gyuto Monastery
When in Dharamshala, you must visit Gyuto Monsastery whcih is one of the greatest monastic institutions and Tantric Universities of the Gelug order. It is believed to have been established in Tibet in the 15th century and re-established in India in the 20th century during the Chinese invasion in Tibet. The monastery is renowned for its tantric meditation which includes Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara and Yamantaka.Apart from this, you can take delight in clicking the pictures of the scenic beauty around it.
5. Dal Lake
No, it is not Kashmir’s Dal Lake but it is not any way less than that. The lake is green in colour and is situated at a height of 1,775 metres. Dal Lake is surrounded by Deodar trees, making up for a perfect chilling spot. Tourists usually sit around the lake with snacks and drinks. The mere beauty of the lake provides tranquility to the chaotic minds. There is a Lord Shiva temple nearby which hosts an annual fair in the month of September.
6. Namgyal Monastery
Namgyal Monastery is the personal monastery of the 14th Dalai Lama. It assists with the rituals involving the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Around 200 monks live in the monastery and perfrom the rituals. It represents all the four main Tibetan monastic lineages. If you seek solace amid the mountains, Namgyal Monastery is a must visit place in Dharamshala.
7. Bhagsu Fall
The fall is situated at 11 kms drive from Dharamshala. It is much closer to Mcleodganj. It is one of the most visited places in Dharamshala as well as Mcleodganj. The water falls from a height of 25 metres and makes for a breathtaking sight. If you’re planning to take a trek to Triund, you can visit Bhagsu falls on your way. The best time to visit the falls is during the monsoons when the water flow is at its peak.
8. Bhagsunath Temple
It is situated at 6 kms from Dharamshala. Pilgrims often flock here in large numbers every year. According to the legends, the temple was built by King Bhagsu, whom the temple is named after. It worships the Snake God or Nag Devta, who was enraged when the King stole water from Dal Lake in Mcleodganj. As a penance for his act, King Bhagsu built a temple on his name and sought his forgiveness. People take a dip in the holy pond which is situated just beside the temple.
9. St. John in the Wilderness Church
The Belgian stained-glass window of the church is the main attraction of the place. The window was donated by Lady Elgin, who was the wife of Lord Elgin, the Governor General and Viceroy of India in 1861. He died in Dharamshala in 1863. He was buried in the premises of the church and his final resting place was built here. The church is built in the neo-Gothic architectural style in 1852 to John the Baptist.
10. Jwalamukhi Devi Temple
Jwalamukhi Devi Temple is situated on the Dharamshala-Shimla road. According to the Hindu mythology, Goddess Sati’s tongue fell here when Lord Shiva was carrying his lifeless body to Kailash. It is believed that a flame burns eternallty in the centre of the temple, hence the name of the place is Jwalamukhi Temple. There are no idols in the temple, but the flame is worshipped as an incarnation of Goddess Sati.
Tsuglagkhang it is the most renowned and the holiest place in Dharamshala. It is a monastery complex where the Dalai Lama lives. The premises also have a museum which puts to display all sorts of Tibetan art in the form of paintings, handicrafts, pottery and scriptures. Everything there is open to the tourists except for the Dalai Lama’s residence.
12. Tsuglagkhang Temple
The temple is close to the residence of Dalai Lama. It is within the premises of Tsuglagkhang. There is a ginormous idol of Lord Buddha sitting on a pedestal along with the statues of Avaloktwshwara, Pamasambhava and other Buddhist monks. Dalai Lama also visits the temple on the daily basis.
13. Masroor Rock Cut Temple
The temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu and other Hindu gods, is carves out of rocks, hence the name is Masroor Rock Cut Temples. It is around 45 kms from Dharamshala, in the Beas river valley. You can see the breathtaking view of snow-capped mountains of Dhauladhar range as the temple is built at an elevation of around 2,500 feet. The temple, which are centuries old, are carved out of natural sandstone rock.
14. Aghanjar Mahadev Temple
The temple has age old deities of Lord Shiva which date back to 500 years ago. There is also a cave in the temple premises where a Shiva Linga is seated. There’s a little stream in the temple complex which serves as a perfect picnic spot for tourists.
15. Kangra Art Museum
The museum was built in 1990. It is a perfect placer for art and history lovers. The museum has an array of Kangra art in the form of paintings, artifacts and sculptures, some of which are even centuries old. The museum is also home to popular Kangra Kalam work which is also known as the Pahari miniature painting.
16. Kangra Fort
Situated at 20 kms drive from Dharamshala, the Kangra Fort was built by the royal Rajput family of Kangra. It belongs to the Katoch dynasty. Its origin dates back to Trigarta Kingdom whose mention was also there in Mahabharata. Kangra Fort is the largest fort in Himalayas and also the oldest dated fort in India. The fort is built at the confluence of Banganga and Majhi river on a rock. There is also an old Jayanti Mata temple which is sitting on the top of a hill. It was built by Genral of Gorkha Army Bada Kaji Amar Singh Thapa. The royal family of Kangra still resides besides the fort.
17. Naddi village
Naddi village is the starting point of many popular treks including Triund, Kareri Lake and Dharamkot. It is known for the widespread footprints of Dalai LAma all over the town. Situated at a height of 2,000 metres, Naddi Village is one of the best places to witness sunrise.
18. Tea gardens
The tea gardens in Dharamshala is the smallest tea plantation in India. The tea gardens in Kangra are beautiful and well-planned. The tea from these plantations can be purchased from various retails stores in the region.