Before my visit to Dharamshala, every time I heard the name of this hill town, I used instantly connect it with something that has serene and spiritual influence. I realized I wasn’t far off on my assumptions during my stay in Dharamshala last year. Located in the picturesque valleys of Kangra, Dharamshala adds a charm of its own to Himachal with its beautiful tea gardens, tall deodar forests and perfect weather. Dharamshala being the headquarters of Tibetan Government in Exile and also the holy residence of Dalai Lama makes it even more appealing for travelers to visit.
I spent 3 beautiful days in Dharamshala, driving through the hills, gazing at the snow-capped Dhauladar mountains ranges inviting everyone to be explored. It was definitely one of the best road trips I have had in recent times, exploring the valleys, taking in the fresh mountain air and enjoying the summer weather.
Visit the Dalai Lama Temple Complex
The Dalai Lama Temple Complex / Tsuglagkhang Monastery located in Mcleodganj is a must visit to experience the tranquil atmosphere and witness the Buddhist monks chanting their prayers and meditating. I kept my fingers crossed hoping His Holiness Dalai Lama was in McLeodganj and I would be blessed by a tiny glimpse of him during my visit to the temple. However, I wasn’t that lucky enough, but I hope you all are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him when you do visit. Thousands of Buddhists devotees visit this temple every year to offer their prayers and it is an incredible experience to witness it. Walk around the temple to spin the prayer wheels to seek blessings and feel the profound spiritual connection.
Adjacent to the Temple is the Tibetan Museum where you will get to learn more about the vast history and culture of Tibet. It also shows the hardships and traumas the Tibetans went through during the Chinese invasions and how they had to flee their home country for the safest. Some of the pictures are very saddening and heartbreaking to look at.
Paragliding at Bir-Billing
This might not be a part of Dharamshala experience for some, but I would say if you are in Dharamshala, you cannot miss this experience. Bir-Billing is a twin village in Kangra known mainly for the paragliding adventure. Enjoy the joys of flying like a bird and appreciate the beautiful mountains from up high in the sky at one of the best paragliding sites in the country.
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Learn Tibetan art at the Norbulingka Institute
The Norbulingka Institute was found in 1988 with the sole intention of preserving and handing down Tibetan art and culture. Take a tour of the institute to learn about the Tibetan traditions and also watch the artisans in action as they create artistic masterpieces using age-old Tibetan techniques in the workshops. Thangka paintings (traditional Tibetan paintings on Cotton or silk applique), traditional statues and wood carving are some of the exquisite artworks, which are the highlights of Norbulingka. Walk around the Japanese style garden getting lost in the tranquil atmosphere of the place. Also, do not forget to visit the ‘Seat of Happiness’ located on the Institute premises.
McLeodganj, named after the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, Sir Donald Friell McLeod is the heart and soul of Dharamshala. With the Tibetan Monasteries and monks, bustling market thronging with tourists, numerous eateries, meditation and yoga centers, McLeodganj never has a dull moment. Walk down the narrow alleyways taking in the lively and vibrant atmosphere of the little town and get lost in its beauty. Shop for little souvenirs to take back home from one of the many Tibetan art shops.
Chase the gorgeous waterfalls
One of the best parts of visiting Himachal Pradesh is the gorgeous waterfalls and little streams gurgling with natural mountain water. As we drove through the mountains, we were blessed with many such gorgeous sights and I honestly, could help myself from getting my feet soaked in the ice-cold waters. I was also suggested to visit the famous Bhagsu waterfalls, which was located in McLeodganj, but honestly speaking I wasn’t that happy with the place as it way too crowded and was a bit untidy. Instead look out for a less touristy waterfall where you can relax and enjoy the cool waters and beautiful mountains.
Triund Hills is one of the most favored trekking locations for adventure seekers visiting Dharamshala. The 6-kilometer moderate hike to the top of the hills will prove to be one of the best ways to enjoy the surreal beauty of the Dhauladhar mountain range. As you make your way past the Tall oak trees and Rhododendrons, you will feel the adrenaline rush with just scenic bliss that awaits. Camp overnight for an ultimate experience under the shining stars and picturesque mountains.
There’s something deeply satisfying about practicing yoga in the mountains. Dharamshala is a popular destination among yoga enthusiasts as there are many yoga retreats and training centers located around the city. Take up a class or a training course and enjoy being connected to nature through the magic called yoga. And, me being a yoga fanatic, I cannot give up on a chance to do yoga in such a beautiful place. Although I did not have the time to look up for yoga classes, I did practice a bit of yoga in my hotel balcony, with the stunning mountain vistas to inspire me.
The snowcapped mountains of the Dhauladhars were one of the major highlights of my visit to Dharamshala. The scenic villages, tranquil valleys, and picturesque waterfalls are the best possible way to celebrate the magic of Himachal. Discover the nature’s best-kept secret as you explore the hills and valleys and soak in the exquisite beauty.