The headquarters of the Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala comes lauded as the sacred abode of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and has been the seat of the Tibetan Government in exile since 1960. Perched on the Dhauladhar mountain range, the hillside town is located at an altitude of 1,457 m in the lap of nature surrounded by magnificent dense deodar, conifer and pine forests.
Divided into two distinct parts – Upper Dharamshala, more famously known as McLeod Ganj, and Lower Dharamshala, Dharamshala is a convenient base for leisurely walks and treks into the Dhauladhar mountain range.
For many, the principal reason to visit Dharamshala is to experience the spiritual life of Tsuglakhang complex, the Dalai Lama’s residence, the Buddhist temples and Tibetan institutions located in it. During the aggression of Tibet by China in 1959, many Tibetan refugees fled from Tibet and crossed over to India along with the Dalai Lama. Dharamshala is one of places where the Tibetan refugees were allotted land to reside.
Opposite Tsuglakhang is located a Buddha temple around which are a Tibetan monastery and nunnery. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) McLeod Ganj is known for its preservation of musical, dance and theatrical traditions of Tibet. The Norbulingka Institute, Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute (Men-Tsee-Khang), Namgyal Monastery and Namgyaima Stupa are other Tibetan Buddhist landmarks of Dharamshala.
While at Dharamshala one should explore the Kotwali Bazaar to get themselves acquainted with the life of the Tibetan Buddhists. Located in Kotwali Bazaar, the Museum of Kangra Art, a landmark of Dharamshala, houses some of the finest miniature paintings from the Kangra school.
How to Reach Dharamshala
Air: The nearest airport to Dharamshala is at Gaggal which is 13 Km from the place. However, Chandigarh, 275 km from Dharamshala, is the convenient airport connected by various airlines with different cities in India. From Chandigarh you can hire a taxi to reach Dharamshala.
Rail: Though Kangra Mandir, 22 km from Dharamshala, is the nearest railhead, Pathankot, 85 km from Dharamshala, is the major railway station connected with major cities in India. From Pathankot you can take a taxi to reach Dharamshala.
Road: Good motorable roads connect Dharamshala with different places and cities in India.
Best Time to Visit Dharamshala
The summer season in Dharamshala starts from the month of March till May and it is generally the most-preferred time to visit Dharamshala.