McLeod Ganj, also referred to as Upper Dharamsala, is situated ten kilometers uphill from the main Dharamsala city. It hosts nearly 10,000 people, including Indians, exile Tibetans and foreign travelers. Many tourists from all over the world come to McLeod Ganj to learn more about Buddhism and experience a peaceful atmosphere. This town is called ‘Little Lhasa’ because of the large population of Tibetans. McLeod Ganj serves as the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and is a great place to understand Tibetan culture and history.
This place provides an important insight into Tibetan culture and spirituality. At the complex’s entrance, visitors are requested to leave their cameras in the lockers. Inside the complex, there is a Tibet Museum, where you will get to know the history of Tibet, its people and their struggles for independence. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closer to the temple, everyone has to pass through the security check. Despite a queue for security reasons, the view from the Temple yard will astonish you.
Dalai Lama Temple Complex, Temple Rd, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, HP, India, +91 189 222 1343
This waterfall, which is 20 meters high, is situated in the village of Bhagsunag, just two kilometers away from McLeod Ganj. This village is mainly famous for waterfalls and an ancient Lord Shiva temple. There is a narrow trek to the waterfall, complete with beautiful natural views on the side. If you reach close to the top, you will enjoy a fabulous view of the hills. Due to the high popularity of the place, you will meet hundreds of tourists on the way as well.
Dal Lake is a pond located on the McLeod Ganj Naddi Road at 1,775 meters above sea level. The lake is surrounded by a pine forest with a scenic view of the hills. Near the banks of the lake, there is a Kali temple that adds a further peaceful aspect to the atmosphere. Overall Dal Lake is a relaxing eco space where you can enjoy nature, feed bread to the fish in the pond, and explore a different view of the hills.
If you ever wondered whether lush green desktop wallpapers with mountains are real, make a visit to Kangra Valley and feel the serene views of nature. This is a great destination for walks, bird watching, trekking, mountaineering and rock climbing. It also hosts a rock temple complex known as Himalayan Pyramid. Kangra Valley offers unique sights throughout the year, though the main season occurs from March to July. The snowy Dhauladhar ranges of Himachal add an untouched natural feeling to the place.
Located on the top of a hill, this fort served as a residence to one of the oldest dynasties in the world – the Katoch dynasty. The fort includes a courtyard, several halls, towers, and temples dating back to the 9th century AD. You can listen to an audio guide to gain a deeper insight of the place. There is also a museum where you can learn more about the history. Once you reach the top of the fort, you will discover a beautiful view overlooking the river.
Go trekking or hiking to Triund Hill to feel the crisp mountain air. The trail is around seven kilometers both ways. It takes six hours walking: four hours for climbing and two hours to come back. On the way, you will pass several small villages, cozy cafés, and enjoy breathtaking views from the top. You can spend a night in Triund and trek further to the snow line and caves the next day. The trek is easy enough even for the beginners.
Local markets give a real feel of Indian culture. McLeod Ganj Market is a global gathering of hippies, travelers, monks, and artists on one street where you can find almost anything from warm clothes to souvenirs. There is also a variety of handmade musical instruments. Indian shopkeepers are known for great storytelling skills; thus, you will get a chance to learn how different things were made and where they come from. Meet creative people. Very often there are artists and craftsmen at the market who are selling the things they’ve created.
Due to the appealing natural environment and many expats in the area, there are constantly organized cultural and creative educational programs in Dharamsala. You can learn different skills: discover cooking tips of Tibetan dishes, try yourself at wood carving or painting, join a handicraft course, or learn Tibetan art under the supervision of master artists. There are also many meditation and yoga retreats due to a peaceful environment. Choose an activity according to your taste, and enjoy the new learnings.
Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj have diverse food options to offer. You will find Italian, Belgian, Chinese, Korean, Himachali, and, of course, Tibetan cuisines. Try tasty noodle vegetable soup (thupka), steamed or fried varieties of momos, veg beans, and rice dishes.
Get a taste of a bakery for which the hill areas are famous. What can be better than finding a cozy café in a chilly evening to enjoy a cup of tea with numerous options for baked goods: brownies, cakes, cookies, truffles, tarts – just think of an option. There are plenty of bakeries that will make your travel memories about Dharamsala even sweeter.