Dharamshala, also known as the Scotland of India, is one of the hill station which was established by the British between 1815 and 1847. Situated in the northern state of the Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala is the district headquarters of Kangra district. This hill station lies on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 18 kms north east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold 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. Dharamshala offers great variations in altitudes, temperature and character, due to which it is a favourite destination among various tourists. In 1905, tragedy struck Dharamshala when an earthquake levelled it completely. After its reconstruction, Dharamshala flourished as a quiet health resort. The city of Dharamshala is divided into two different parts. One of the part is the Lower Dharamshala which consists of the Kotwali Bazaar and areas further down the valley. The other part is the Upper Dharamshala which comprises of the McLeodganj, Forsythe Ganj and surrounding areas. Since 1960, when it became a temporary headquarters of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Dharamshala has risen to international fame as "The Little Lhasa in India".
Tourist Attractions in Dharamshala
Triund is situated above Mcleodganj, about 20 kms. from Dharamshala. Triund lies at the feet of the perpetually snow clad Dhauladhar at the height of 2975 m. The snow line starts at Ilaqa, 5 kms. from Triund. It is a popular picnic and trekking spot. Accommodation is available in the rest house of Forest Department, but water has to be fetched from a distance of about 2 kms. Ropeway is being installed from Dharamshala to this place. To reach Triund, one has to trek from Mcleodganj for about 9 kms. This trek passes through the Dharamkot and Rakkar villages. The trek from Rawa, Dallake, Dharamkot and Bhagsu meet at a ridge known as Galu Devi (2130m) which has a small temple and a water point. On this track one can spot many types of birds, specially Monals. The black bear, leopards, pigs and wild goats are also found in this region.
Dharamkot is a popular viewpoint located on the the crest of the Dharamkot hill, about 11 kms. from Dharamshala. This picnic spot offers a panoramic view of the Kangra velley, Pong Dam lake and surrounding Dhauladhar peaks. One can reach Dharamkot by a simple trek from Bhagsu. The scenery from Dharamkot is simply breathtaking and here you can also meet the Gaddi folks.
Kareri is a beautiful scenic spot located in the cool depths of a pine grove, about 22 kms. from Kotwali Bazar. The beautiful Kareri Lake is located just 13 km away from the spot. This lake is set amidst green meadows and Oak and pine forests, at an altitude of 3250 m. Durbasa and Kali temples are located in Kareri.
The picturesque Dal lake is a popular picnic spot situated amidst the hills and deodar trees. This lake is surrounded by the pine forests. The lake lies 11 kms. from Lower Dharamshala and connected by motorable road. It is also a starting point for excursion and trekking. Dal lake is located next to the Tibetan Children's village. A colourful annual fair is also held here in the month of September every year.
Nurpur is situated about 66 kms. from Dharamshala. Nurpur is named after Nurjehan, the wife of the Mughal emperor Jehangir. It has an ancient fort and a carved Krishna temple. Today, Nurpur is known for its fine Pashmina shawls and textiles.
Set amidst beautiful surroundings, this War memorial is built near the entry point to Dharamshala to commemorate the memory of those who fought valiantly for the defence of the motherland.
Kunal Pathri is located not too far from the Kotwali bazaar, in the lap of the Dhauladhar range. A 3 kms. walk from Kotwali Bazar leads upto the rock temple of the local goddess, Kapaleshwari. Kunal Pathri is a little rock temple dedicated to the local goddess, Kapaleshwari. According to the legends, the Daksh Prajapati, the father of Sati had once organized a Yajna. But he doesn't invited Lord Shiva to this Yajna. Sati could not bear the insult to lord Shiva and in retaliation jumped into the fire of the Yajna. Lord Shiva was so shocked that he started roaming in a state of madness with the body of Sati on his back. When Lord Vishnu saw this then he used the Sudarshan Chakra to destroy Sati's body and a part of her skull is believed to have fallen here. Due to this, this place is known as Kunal Pathri.
St. John's Church
The St. John's Church lies on a motorable road between McLeod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj, 8 kms. from Lower Dharamshala. The St. John's Church has a monument dedicated to Lord Elgin, one of the 19th century viceroy of India, who was buried here in 1863 AD. The St. John's Church is a Gothic building with cobble-stones floors and stained glass windows. There is a Christian cemetery around it where various other British soldiers were buried.
Mcleod Ganj: A number of residential buildings, restaurants, antique and curio shops, together with famous Tibetan institutions have lent importance to McLeod Ganj. The Buddha 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 holds an annual 10-day folk opera commencing on the second Saturday of April. There is also a Tibetan handicraft centre situated at McLeod Ganj and a Sunday market is organized at about 10 minutes walk from here.
At a distance of 11 kms. from Lower Dharamshala, Bhagsunag can be approached by road, here an old temple, a fresh water spring and restaurant are located. Further about 2 kms. is beautiful Bhagsunag water falls which soothes one's eyes.
The famous temple of Jwalamukhi is about 35 kms. from Kangra and 56 kms. from Dharamshala. 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 and 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. The golden tower (dome) of the temple was a gift from the Emperor Akbar. Two important fairs are held here during the Navratras in earlier April and mid October.
Dehra Gopipur is situated on the bank of the Beas. It is possible to use Dehra as a base for different fishing areas like Pong Dam, Pattan, Kurn and Nadaun. One can also visit the famous temple of Chintpurni from here.
Trilokpur is situated about 41 kms. from Dharamshala and can be approached by road. The natural cave temple of Trilokpur contains a stalactite and stalagamite and dedicated to Shiva. High on the ridge of the cave are ruins of a palace and baradari (audience hall) of Lehna Singh Majitha, Governor of Kangra hills during the Sikh rule.
Masroor is known for its monolithic rock temples, and about 40 kms. from 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 Ellora in Maharashtra with which they bear a striking resemblance. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita.
Geography of Dharamshala
Dharamshala is located very close to the perennial snowline and surrounded by deodar forests and the Dhauladhar range, the mighty snowy mountains of Dharamshala. These mountains rise about 4000 m above the floor of the valley, and follow you wherever you go. Their sides are covered with fields of mustard flowers and daisies, red roofed houses, garlands of colourful Tibetan prayer flags that wave to the heavens.
This town is well connected to many other cities of Himachal Pradesh and other near by towns. Here is the list of distances by road from different places to Dharamsala.
Pathankot 83 Km
Delhi 526 Km
Jalandhar 160 Km
Chandigarh 242 Km
Kangra 18 Km
Jawalamukhi 53 Km
Manali 242 Km
Kulu 205 Km
Mandi 134 Km
Palampur 34 Km
Chamunda 16 Km
How to reach Dharamshala
The nearest airport is located at Gaggal, about 15 kms. away from Dharamshala. Dharamshala is connected to various other cities by the regular flights of various airlines.
The nearest broad gauge railway station is located at Pathankot, about 95 kms. A narrow gauge railway line between Pathankot and Jogindernagar passes through Kangra.
Dharamshala is connected to various important cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu, Shimla, Chamba and Manali.
Shopping in Dharamshala
Kotwali Bazar, a general shopping area, and McLeod Ganj for Tibetan handicrafts are the main shopping areas in Dharamshala.
General Information about Dharamshala
Population: 13.39 lakh
Altitude: Between 1250 m to 1550 m (Dharamshala)
Temperature: Max. 38 Degree Celsius in June; Min. 0 Degree Celsius in January
Best Season: March to June, September to December
Clothing: Winter: Heavy Woolens,Summer: Light Woolens and tropical
STD Code :01892
Annual Rainfall : 290 cm to 380 cm
Languages: Hindi, Punjabi, English and Pahari