The High snow clad Dhauladhar ranges form a magnificent backdrop to the hill resort of Dharamsala. This is the principal township of Kangra district and overlooks wide spread of the plains. With dense pine and deodar forests, numerous streams, cool healthy air, attractive surroundings and the nearby snowline, Dharamsala has everything for a perfect holiday. It is full of life and yet peaceful. The headquarters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are at upper Dharamsala. Covering a wide area in the form of twin settlement, lower Dharamsala (1380m) is a busy commercial centre. While upper Dharamsala (1830m) with the suburbs of Mcleodganj and Forsytheganj, retains a British flavor and colonial lifestyle. The charming church of St. John in the wilderness is situated here and this is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British Viceroy of India during the 19th century. There is also a large Tibetan community who have made this place their home. Numerous ancient temples like Jwalamukhi, Brijeshwari and Chamunda lie on the plains below Dharamsala.
ACCESS : Dharamsala can be approached by air from Delhi. The nearest airport is at Gaggal, 13 km away. Pathankot, the nearest broad gauge railway station is 85 km away and the toy train station is 17 km at Kangra. Taxis and Buses for Dharamsala are available at both places. From Pathankot the drive takes about three hours or you can drive from Delhi (526 km) via Chandigarh, Kiratpur and Bilaspur and takes 12 hours. From Delhi and Shimla luxury buses ply to Dharamsala. HPTDC operates a regular Luxury coach from Delhi to Dharamsala.
CLIMATE : In winter, the temperature can drop to freezing point when heavy woolens are required. During summer, the climate is mild and light woolens / cottons are recommended.
What To See
The variety Dharamsala offers for sightseeing ranges from temples, churches and monasteries to museums, ancient towns and places of natural beauty. Every season and every spot has its own special offering.
KANGRA ART MUSEUM, KOTWALI BAZAR : This treasure trove of the Kangra Valley displays arts, crafts and rich past, artifacts that date back to the 5th century. It includes a gallery of Kangra's famous miniature painting and a representative collection of sculptures, pottery and anthropological items. Shamianas and dresses used by local royalty, old carved doors, jails, lintels and pandals are also on display Coins, jewelry and manuscripts are included. A section houses the work of contemporary artists, sculptures and photographers.
WAR MEMORIAL : At there start of town, landscaped lawns and a web of narrow paths fill a pine grove where a monument has been raised to commemorate the post independence war heroes of Himachal Pradesh.
KUNAL PATHRI : A 3 km level walk from the Kotwali Bazaar leads up to this rock temple.
ST. JOHN'S CHURCH : 8 km from Dharamsala, between Forsythganj and Mcleodganj is the charming church of St. John in the Wilderness. Under the shade of deodar branches, a memorial has been erected over the body of the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died at Dharamsala in 1863. There is a well tended old graveyard on these grassy sloped.
MCLEODGANJ : Often called the Little Lhasa, at 1770m is the residence of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Government in exile has been head quartered here for over three decades. The impressive monastery has larger than life images of the Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avaloktwshwara. The large Tibetan community and the presence of traditional architectural designs drawn from Tibet have enhanced the area. Tibetian handicrafts and garments are available on sale every Sunday. The Tibetian Institute of Performing Arts is just a km away and organises a ten day festival from the second Saturday of April.
DAL LAKE : 11 km from Dharamsala and surrounded by deodar trees this is an enchanting and serene picnic spot.
BHAGSUNATH : Close to fresh springs, this ancient temple is 11 km from Dharamsala. It is a popular picnic spot and the famous slate quarries are close by.
CHINMAYA TAPOVAN : 10 km from Dharamsala on the banks of the rivulet Bindusaras, is an ashram complex established by the late Swami Chinmayananda, a noted exponent of the Gita. The complex includes a 9 meter high image of Lord Hanuman, a magnificent Rama Temple, a meditation hall, a school, and a health and recreation centre.
NURPUR : 66km from Dharamsala and 26 km from Pathankot, Nurpur is famous for old fort and a temple of Brijraj. Nurpur acquired its name in 1672, when Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor named it after his wife Nurjahan.
Naddi: At 2,000 metres above the sea level and about four kilometres from mecleodgunj, It is the only place in Dharamshala from where an open view of mountains and wide valleys on Dhaula Dhar’s southern side can be seen.
Galu : Galu is a very beautiful hemlet in the vincity of Dharamshala town situated at an altitude of 2,100 meters and 6km away from mecleodgunj surrounded with thick deodar forest. It has a samll temple of Galu Devta secred for local people. It's famous for it's beautiful veiw that can be seen from here one side there are snow clad dhauladhar ranges and other side a long valley where you can see Mecleodgunj, Dharamsala and even Kangra if weather is clear. There are lots of terks originates from Galu that goes upto Chamba and Spiti.
Triund : Triund is 6 Km ahead from Galu and can be reached via trekking only. Its a quit tough trek as it goes upto 3000 Mtrs. It's a 6 Km long trek from "Galu" this is the last place where you can reach by vehicle. Triund is so beautiful that once you reach there you will forget all the tiredness of the tough journey, the surrondings and natural beauty of the place will rejuvanate your senses. The snow clad mountains of Dhauladhar Ranges are so near from Triund that it looks like you can get hold of them in your hands.
Temples Around Dharamshala
Chintpurni Temple : Chintpurni Temple is 70 km from Dharamshala and dedicated to Mata Shri Chhinnamastika Devi and Mata Chintpurni Devi. This Temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths. The legend is that the temple was built here after the Goddess revealed herself to Mayi Das, a devotee. The original pindi of the Devi still exists and the image depicts her without a head. It is the image of Chinnmastika - the goddess without a head.
Jwalamukhi Temple : The Jwalamukhi Temple in Kangra District of Himachal is considered extremely sacred for theHindus. It is located around 56 km from Dharamshala and south of the Kangra valley in the lap of Shivalik range. It is dedicated to Goddess Jwalamukhi, the deity of Flaming Mouth. The legend of the Jwalamukhi Temple relates to Sati. Jwalamukhi temple is the place where the tongue of Sati fell. Here the goddess is manifested as tiny flames that burn through the fissures in the age old rock. Jwalamukhi Temple is a temple of the Goddess of Light. Jwalamukhi is also known as the Flaming Goddess. The building has a gilt dome and silver plated folding doors. Inside, there is a 3 feet square pit with pathway all around. In the centre, there is a hollowed rock over a primary fissure of flame. This one is regarded as the mouth of the Mahakali. Flames emit out from several other point in the pit. They are nine in total and represent the different form of the goddess -Saraswati, Annapurna, Chandi, Hing Laj,Vindhya Vasini, Mahalaxmi, Mahakali, ambika and Anjana.
Chamunda Devi Temple : The famous temple of Ma Chamunda is in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is around 10 km west of Palampur and 15 Km from Dharamshala on the Baner river. Around 400 years ago the king and a Brahmin priest prayed to Devi for permission to move the temple to some easily accessible location. Devi appeared to the priest in a dream giving her consent. She directed him to dig in a certain spot and an ancient idol would be found and that idol should be installed in the temple and worshipped as Her form.
The king sent out men to bring the idol. Although they were able to locate it but were not able to lift it. Again Devi appeared to the priest in a dream. She explained that the men could not lift the holy relic because they considered it an ordinary stone. She instructed him to get up early in the morning, take a bath, wear fresh clothes and go to the place in a respectful manner. He did as he was told and found that he could easily lift what a large group of men could not. He told the people that it was the power of the Goddess that brought the idol to the temple.
The temple now depicts scenes from the Devi Mahatmya, Ramayan and Mahabharata. The Devi's image is flanked by the images of Hanuman and Bhairo on either side.
Brijeshwari Devi Temple : Shri Bajreshwari Devi or vajreshwari Devi or Brajeshwari Devi temple of Kangra once known for its legendary wealth this temple was raided by various invaders from the north. Destroyed completely in 1905 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1920 and continues to be a busy place of pilgrimage. One of the most revered shrines, Vajreshwari Temple is dedicated to Devi Vajreshwari, the Goddess of Lightening. It has also been built as per the Shikhara style of architecture. It is believed that Vajreshwari Temple is more than 1000 years old is 17 Km from Dharamshala Town.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS : The fort of Kangra and Mangarh are other attractions.
ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES AND SPORTS : Between May and October, the Dhauladhar ranges offer an enormous variety of trekking and rock climbing.
FISHING : The 20 km stretch of the river Beas between Nadaun and Pong Dam offers ample opportunities in angling for Mahaseer.
SHOPPING : For local handicrafts visit Kotwali Bazar, Tibetan handicrafts and carpets are available at Mcleodganj.
How To Reach
Kangra airport (Gaggal Airport) is the nearest airstrip from Dharamsala, situated at the distance of 21 km. Jagson Airline has flights every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from Delhi to Kangra airport. Once you arrive in Kangra, make use of the buses and taxis, available easily, for traveling to Dharamsala.
Pathankot is nearest major railhead from Dharamsala, situated at the distance of 76 km. There are many trains running from Pathankot station (a.k.a. Chakki Bank Station) to different cities of India. For instance, it is connected to Delhi by the Jammu Express and to Kolkata by the Jammu Tawi Express. From Pathankot, you can take the narrow gauge railway line train to Kangra, for further expansion of experience, and either take a bus or hire a cab from there, for reaching Dharamsala. Though time consuming, such a journey would surely leave you mesmerized.
Dharamsala has an excellent network of roads that links with almost all the major cities of the country. The place is situated at a distance of 516 km from Delhi, 268 Km from Chandigarh, 195 km from Amritsar and 283 km from Shimla. Once you arrive at any of these places, you can opt for buses as well as taxis for reaching Dharamsala. In case you plan to drive down to the place from Delhi, take NH1 and NH21 for reaching Kiratpur and from there drive to Una and then to Kangra. From there, McLeodganj is 31 km. From Chandigarh, you will have to take NH21 to Kiratpur. From Shimla, drive to Bilaspur and then to Mandi. From there, take NH20 to Dharamsala.
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