Himachal Pradesh, India, Travels

Top things to do in Dharamshala

Things to do in Dharamshala 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

Things to do in Dharamshala
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.Things to do in Dharamshala

Things to do in DharamshalaAdjacent 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

Things to do in Dharamshala
Paragliding in 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.

Related post: Paragliding experience at Bir-Billing

Learn Tibetan art at the Norbulingka Institute

Things to do in Dharamshala
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.Things to do in Dharamshala

Things to do in DharamshalaThings to do in DharamshalaExplore the streets of McLeodganj

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.

Things to do in Dharamshala
The Namgyalma Stupa in the heart of Mcleodganj
Things to do in Dharamshala
The Stupa was built in honor of the brave soldiers who lost their fighting for Free Tibet

Chase the gorgeous waterfalls

Things to do in Dharamshala
Bhagsunag Waterfall

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.Things to do in Dharamshala

Trekking up the Triund Hills

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.

Practice yoga

Things to do in DharamshalaThere’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.

Enjoy the stunning scenery of the KangraHcpa dharamshala

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.

47 thoughts on “Top things to do in Dharamshala

  1. Beautiful post . We too were in Dharmshala & Mcleodganj . It was a beautiful destination and gives all forms of traveling like temple .. trek ..fall and yes traffic Jam in Mcleodganj 🙂

  2. India has been on my radar for a while! There is so much to do that it’s hard to narrow down exactly what one should visit – I loved reading about Dharamshala and seeing the many activities and the town itself. Looks beautiful!

  3. I never heard of Dharamshala before. It sounds such a peaceful and holy place, especially the Dalai Lama Temple Complex. It would have been ideal if you had met Dalai Lama but it sounds like you had a memorable experience anyway!

  4. Dharamshala looks like a stunning place to visit, especially for the outdoor adventures. Would love to try some of the top things that you recommended from visiting the Dalai Lama Temple to paragliding at Bir-Billing to visiting the waterfalls. Love how the area is bursting with colors and history.

  5. What an interesting read! Thank you for sharing the adventure. I have wanted to visit Tibet but have been unsure because I do not know the language. I only speak English, is that a barrier that I should be concerned with?

  6. Trekking up to Triund Hills would be so fun! I’ve not heard of Dharamshala but your last picture of the infinity pool looks great. Looks like you had a lot of fun!

  7. I loved that you shared such a wide range of things to do in Dharamshala, from adventurous para-gliding to a relaxing yoga class. Your post and beautiful photos really makes me want to go to Dharamshala to see and do it all!

  8. That’s a great guide to Dharamshala, especially I would love to go paragliding in Bir-Billing! As you said this activity is not for everyone so I was wondering if there are a lot of people doing paragliding there?

  9. Learning Tibetan art is a very fascinating activity that really helps to get to know another culture. Thanks for suggesting this amazing experience. I’ll make sure to add this when visiting Tibet.

  10. Dharamshala is one of my favorite destinations and you have nicely picked up the list of things to do there. It reminded me of my old Indian traveling days. I still am well connected with the Himalayas and I would love to go back there soon. Your post just triggered the right chords in me.

  11. What a beautiful place. I would need a couple of weeks to see it all especially the temples which I love to visit. Your photos are beautiful. Such a colourful place. I really want to travel there.

  12. This looks like such an amazing place to visit! I have never been, but I would love to explore there. I would definitely sign up for paragliding. I bet the view is fantastic from up there! I also love chasing waterfalls, and it sounds like there are so many to see there.

    1. Hahaha yes, I lost count of the number of waterfalls I came across during my trip, there are so many and each more gorgeous from the other.

  13. You have listed beautiful things to do in Dharamshala. It looks like a very beautiful place in Himachal with full of greenery, colorful Tibetan art, and a wonderful rejuvenating place. I loved that colorful Namgyalma Stupa in the heart of Mcleodganj and also the streets of Mcleodganj would be lovely to wander around. Doing Yoga or Meditation here must be a perfect relaxing activity.

  14. I’ve never been anywhere in Asia, but if I were to go I would surely include Tibet. in my visit The Dalai Lama Temple Complex and Tsuglagkhang Monastery look like an absolute must. That colorful Tibetan art and the stunning scenery of Kangra are a photographer’s dream come true.

  15. I like this guide, it’s so detailed and informative. I love to explore Buddist cultures, I would really love to go to the Tybetan art center to learn more about it. There are so many things to do there, the colorful stupa looks just gorgeous. I feel like traveling there in my imagination, thanks to your photos.

  16. I am not familiar with Tibetan art and travel, and I am glad that I visited your blog. Those stencils are very intricate, I would love to experience their art workshop if available. I like that those structure are vividly colorful, very impressive 😀

  17. Dharamshala – McLeodganj are one of my favourite places. While McLeodganj has got super crowded off lately, you can still find your quaint corner in the little Tibetan haven. Have stayed near the Norbulingka Institute in Dharamshala, but wasn’t able to visit as it was closed when I passed by it. Next time definitely.

  18. Dharamshala looks like a serene and relaxing place to visit – a very spiritual one. The Dalai Lama complex is somewhere I would love to experience. But on the flip side, paragliding at Bir-billing looks like so much fun! The nature side also does sound wonder – I love the sounds of the waterfalls at Himachal Pradesh. Looks like a must tick off place!

    1. Oh yes, it is a must visit! Dharamshala is a beautiful mix of adventure, culture and nature, one rarely gets to witness all of this together.

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