Set against the backdrop of the dramatic Dhauladhar
mountains, Dharamsala is perched on the high slopes in the
upper reaches of Kangra Valley. The town is divided into two
distinct and widely separated sections, Upper and Lower
Dharamsala, which differ almost a thousand metres in height.
Today, Dharamsala has become the synonymous to the Tibetan
government in exile and the home of Tibetan leader Dalai
Lama. Even if the Tibetan community dominates the town,
still it has retained the colonial lifestyle and British
Dharamsala over looks the plains and is surrounded by dense
pine trees and Deodar forests. A nearby snowline with
numerous streams and cool healthy atmosphere makes the
surroundings very attractive.
Dharamsala is a busy bazaar town and has established itself
as the travellers base camp, who come to explore the nearby
mountains. The Kotwali Bazaar provides the entire colour and
characteristic of a small town, which is mixed with the
simple life style.
The colourful temple and Gompas, which reflect the culture
of Tibet, adds attraction for the visitor. The Kangra museum
gives an overview of the rich past of the region and on the
other hand there are institutes that have been established
to preserve the Tibetan art, cultures and traditions.
Prime Attractions of Dharmsala (Dharamshala)
St. John'S Church In Wilderness
7-km upward from Dharamsala, between Forsyth Ganj and Mcleod
Ganj lies the charming St. John's Church. It was built in
1852 and is dressed in grey stone with some fine Belgian
stained glass windows donated by Lady Elgin. The church is
popularly known as the church of St. John in Wilderness.
Chamunda Devi Temple
Not far from Dharamsala is the famous temple of Chamunda
Devi. It is an enchanting spot with glorious views of the
mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahla forests. 15-km
from Dharamshala a tiny village of Dadh on Palampur road is
the famous temple dedicated to Goddess Chamunda Devi.
Maharana Pratap Sagar
Named in honour of the great patriot 'Maharana Pratap' (1572
- 97 AD), the Maharana Pratap Sagar was once known as the
'Pong Dam Reservoir'. India knows the 'Maharana' as a man
who struggled valiantly for his kingdom of 'Mewar'-as for
the principle of independence. In the words of the
Chroniclers James Tod and William Crooke, "He spurned every
overture that had submission for its basis". Over the river
Beas, the "Pong Dam" was completed in 1976. Its reservoir
has an area of about 45,0000 hectares at maximum possible
flooding - the level varies with every season and averages
around 30,000 hectares. Over 2,000 villages with a
population of over 85, people are lying along the wetland.
THE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY In 1983, the Sagar was declared a
wildlife sanctuary and over 2,20 species of bird belonging
to 54 families have been sighted over the waters and the
fringing mud-banks-these include black - headed gulls,
plovers, terns, ducks, water-fowl and egrets. The first
sighting in the region of the red-necked grebe, was made at
the Sagar. The wetland's location at the head of the Indian
plains has made it a suitable habitat and stopover for
migratory birds that enter India from Central Asia. The land
portion of the sanctuary has barking deer, sambar, wild
borars, nilgai, leopards and claw-less others. Twenty-seven
species and sub-species of fish belonging to six families
have been recorded in the Sagar's waters. Some of the
important commercial varieties are - Labeo dero (Gid), Labeo
rohita, Labeo Calbasu, Tor putitora (Mahsir), and Mystus
seenghala (Singhara). Since 1976, fishing has been a major
economic activity in the areas and today, this provides
employment to some 1,500 fishermen and the annual catch is
valued at over a corore rupees.
Just 4-kms from Dharamsala is Norbulinka. This place has
heavy Japanese influence. The Norbulingka Institute of
Tibetan Culture was founded by the Department of Religion
and Culture to preserve and promote Tibetan art and culture
Orginally known as Dhameri, 66-km from Dharamsala and 24-km
from Pathankot, Nurpur Fort was renamed by the Emperor
Jehangir, son of the Great Moghul Jalal-Ud-Din Mohammad
Akbar. The fort is now in its ruins, but still has some
finely carved reliefs.
Tsug-Lag-Khang (Central Cathedral)
Though a plain and utilitarian substitute for its far more
splendid namesake in Lhasa, also known as the Jokhang, the
Tsug-Lag-Khang is nevertheless fascinating and peaceful.
Situated opposite the residence of His Holiness the Dalai
Lama, Tsug-Lag-Khang is known to the local Indians as the
Situated just 13-kms away from Palampur, lies this dwelling
place of artist S.Sobha Singh. It houses a gallery of some
of his major works and a pottery center.
Surrounded by high and green Deodar trees is the lake, which
fills a mountain bowl. Situated 11-kms away from the town,
this lake is easily approachable by road and makes an
enchanting and serene picnic spot.
Just 11-km away from Dharamsala, located on the crest of a
hill lie this attractive picnic spot, which presents a
panoramic view of the Kangra valley and Dauladhar ranges
37 kms from Mangalore on the road to Dharmasthala is the
holy place of Karanje, well known for its medieval Shiva
temple. Situated on a hill 1,500 ft high, it commands a
panoramic view of the surrounding area.
These are the rock temples from which the place derives its
name. Kunal pathri is a 3 kms flat walk from Kotwali Bazaar.
Lord Elgin's Memorial
After the honors of 1857, India's First War of independence,
Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India. Her
Prime Minister, Lord Canning made the proclamation and the
Governor General's title was raised to that of Viceroy of
Moodabidri, 23 kms from Venur described as Jaina Kashi, is
known for the 18 bastis, the most famous of them being 'Savira
Kambada Basti' (Basti with thousand pillars). Built in 1430
AD, this basti has beautiful monolith columns and priceless
collection of jewel-studded metal images of Jain
In 1575 Sonam Gyatso, the Third Dalai Lama, officially
founded a monastery, which later came to be known as Namgyal
Dratsang (Victorious Monastery). Since its inception, the
monastery has assisted the Dalai Lamas in their public
religious activities for the welfare of Tibet.
Pong Lake Sanctuary
Pong Dam reservoir is 65-km from Panthankot and 115-km from
Dharamsala on the Beas River. The Pong Dam Lake is
significant for a wildlife sanctuary with wild life species
like Nilgai, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Buar, Clawless
Otter, and Leapord. The reservoir is developed on a large
scale for promoting water sports for tourists.
Venur 30kms from Dharmasthala, is famous for the
Gomateshwara statue built in 1605 AD by an Ajila Prince.
Excursions from Dharmsala (Dharamshala)
Located in district Kangra, 11-km from Dharamsala and
surrounded by Deodar trees, Dal Lake is on the motor road to
Just 10-km from the town is the tranquil ashram complex set
up by the great exponent of the Gita--Swami Chinmayananda.
Situated on the banks of Bindu Saras, the ashram includes a
9m high image of Hanuman, a Ram temple, a meditation hall, a
school and a health & recreation center.
Dharamkot is the starting point for the short walks to the
high plateau at Triund (2,975m), or further over the high
passes to the Chamba valley.
Set amidst a sylvan surrounding is a rest house, located in
the cool depths of the pine grove. Surrounded by green open
meadows and forests of tall oak & pine at a height of 3250m
is situated the picturesque Kareri Lake, which is just 13-km
from the rest house and 22- kms from Dharamsala.
Tatwani & Machhrial
There are hot springs situated at Tatwani, 25-km from
Dharamsala but on the way, at Machhrial, is a waterfall
twice as big as the one near the Bhagsunath temple.
The Shrine of Bhagsunath
Just 11-km from the town center of Dharamsala is the ancient
temple of Bhagsunath. There are many fresh water springs
close to the temple, which are considered sacred by the
On the way from Pathankot, 41-km from Dharamsala are the
unique cave temples with a stalactite and stalagmites
dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Triund is a popular picnic spot at an height of 2827 m. The
area is on the foothills of Dhauladhar range and is 17-kms
from Dharamsala. The snow line starts at Ilaqua, which is
five kms from Triund. The breathtaking views of the
mountains and the valleys makes Triund an ideal picnic spot
and trekking spot.
How To Get There - Dharmshala
Dharamsala can be approached by air from Delhi and the
nearest Airport is at Gaggla, just 13-km away from the town.
Pathankot is 85-km and is the nearest railhead for
Dharamsala. Trains from all over the country make a stop
over at Pathankot and from here it is a three-hour journey
From Manali too bus services are available to this place.
One can drive from Delhi via Chandigarh, Kiratpur, Bilaspur
and it's an 8-hours journey. From Delhi and Shimla, luxury
buses ply to Dharamsala.
Places To Stay - Dharmshala
Dharamsala's accommodation options include HPTDC's hotels,
private hotels, guest houses, PWD and Forest rest houses,
which are located in and around the place and are available
at resonable prices.
Climate - Dharmshala
As Dharamsala is located in the Himalayas, the climate is
very pleasant during the summers but in winters the cold is
very bad. Temperature can drop below the freezing point
during the winters and heavy woollen clothes are required.
During the summers the weather is mild and light woolens and
cottons are recommended. The best time to visit the place is
during the summers when the cold has shed its biting teeth
and there is plenty of Sunshine. But avoid coming here
during the monsoon months, as there is a danger of
General Information - Dharmshala
Mid-May To Mid-October.