Monday, September 25, 2023

Best 10 Places To Visit in Dharamshala

The quaint and picturesque town on the lap of the Himalayas is calling you. Well, for the best places to visit in Dharamshala, we are here to help you plan right. 

Himachal Pradesh is a picturesque state, experiencing a heavy tourist inflow all year round. If you are planning a tour of Himachal with your family, partner, or alone, Dharamshala must be on your bucket list. Known for its snow-laden mountains, serenity, quaintness, Tibetan culture, and so much more, this hill station is a must-visit for every vacationer.

If you want to get up close and personal with Buddhism, Dharamshala could exceed your expectations. The Dhauladhar mountain range surrounds it and tall deodars and pine trees add to its appeal. In summer, this town bustles with tourists keen on trekking, sightseeing, and spirituality. As well, the place houses an international cricket stadium.

It is impossible to measure every nook and cranny of Dharamshala in a short trip. So, let’s help your cause with a comprehensive list of the top 10 places to visit in Dharamshala.

But before moving on to the Dharamshala places to visit, let’s take a glimpse of the history of Dharamshala.

History of Dharamshala

Dharamshala has two meanings, and both of them are befitting. One, a place for spiritual learning, as “Dharma” means religion and “Shala” means school. Two, a place for spiritual pilgrims to stay the night before continuing their journey.

But it is not just about religion. The Britishers founded it between 1815 and 1847 to combat the scorching Indian summers. The place was used as an army sanctuary for troops that were stationed at Kangra. In the early years after independence, it was just a sleepy little town. Come 1959, the place came to life as Tibetan refugees settled here with their spiritual leader, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. Soon, it acquired a strong Buddhist vibe that still lingers on. 

Since then, several monasteries and religious places have come up in and around the town. British architecture and lifestyle are still prominent here. And, pleasant summers make it worth a visit. 

Best 10 Places To Visit In Dharamshala

Dharamshala is divided into upper and lower Dharamshala. Each division has numerous places to visit in Dharamshala. but these top 10 places are a must. Check them out.

1. Tsuglagkhang Complex

Tsuglagkhang ComplexIf you are seeking peace, the Tsuglagkhang complex is the place to visit. It is home to the Dalai Lama, who has been living here since 1959. There is a beautiful cream-colored monastery in McLeodganj frequented by common folks and celebs alike. The serenity and peace in the air here are hard to describe in words. You pass the Tibet Museum on your way.

The beautiful building is simple, but the real treasure hides inside the walls. Visit it on a Sunday afternoon, you can witness the lively debates of the monks in the central courtyard. In the compound, there is Kalachakra, meaning the “Wheel Of Life.” It depicts the various stages of life in the form of various mandalas and statues.

Once inside the temple room, you experience the greatness of the place with fine statues and a magnanimous throne used by the Dalai Lama to deliver sermons. Here, you realize that peace is more valuable than materialistic gains. The place screams the simple Tibetan culture and its purity. Miss the visit to the place at your own risk.

2. St. John’s In The Wilderness Church

St. John’s In The Wilderness ChurchOnly 8 km away from Dharamshala lies St. John in the Wilderness Church. You will love this building, the surroundings, the architecture, the lush greenery, tall Deodar trees, and most importantly fresh and pure air. The earthy smell invades your senses, and you feel you are in heaven. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the best places to visit in Dharamshala.

Saint John’s Church was dedicated to a namesake Baptist in 1852. This almost 169-year-old church defies its age and looks as beautiful as ever. Its Belgian windows and imposing structure recall its greatness. It is also dedicated to one of the British Viceroys, Lord Elgin, who was buried here in 1863.

The church features a neo-Gothic style construction. Inside, the polished hardwood altar and brass oil lamps give this place a serene appeal. As expected, there are stone-carved holy crosses everywhere. But beware of the guards and don’t be naughty. They watch the church quite closely for any damage the tourists make.

Tourists are in love with this place’s surroundings. It is an ideal place for photography and spending a few quiet moments in the lap of nature.       

3. Bhagsu Falls

Bhagsu FallsAre you ready for a quick dip? Because if you visit Bhagsu Falls, you won’t be able to resist the temptation. The place is situated 7000 feet above sea level. The high altitude, the greenery, crystal clear water, and a long fall soothe your eyes and soul. The beauty of this place is captivating, making it one of the Dharamshala places to visit.

The best time to come here is in the rain when the water level increases and the entire place baths in fresh drops and soaks your soul. You can unwind, soak in the panoramic views or bask around aimlessly. The waterfalls from 30 feet, and its sound and frothy white water look wonderful. This is a perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon with family. There are some restaurants and cafes nearby serving some delectable multiple cuisines. 

Before taking the dip, check the water, as it is very cold and you may change your mind. Trekking is the most popular activity here to get up close and personal with the scenic surroundings. As it is a risky place, keep the children close and take necessary precautions.

4. Bhagsunath Temple

Bhagsunath TempleIf you are visiting the Bhagsu Falls, do visit the nearby Bhagsunath Temple. It is a popular Shiva temple flocked by Hindu and Gorkha devotees of Lord Shiva. It’s an ancient structure with stunning architecture to keep you awe-struck. The temple has two pools each believed to have healing properties.

Situated near McLeodganj, this is a must-visit place, as you can enjoy the green valley from up here. The views are beautiful, and the peace is incomparable. It is said that the temple King Bhagsu built the temple to please Nag Devta. Nag Devta (The Snake God) was enraged by the king who had stolen the holy water from Nag Lake. As repentance, he built the Shiva temple. However, some believe it was built by a Gorkha named Bhagsuwala.

This place is bustling with cafes, restaurants, and guest houses. The place is a means of living for people here who earn by serving tourists. It is a perfect combination of pilgrimage and enjoyment. After worship, go for a picnic at Bhagsu Falls and enjoy the day.

5. Kangra Fort

Kangra FortVisit this fort to experience its grandeur even though it has lost its appeal. At different points in time, it was attacked by all prominent rulers of Delhi. This 3500-year-old fort was built by Maharaja Susharma Chandra, who had fought the battle of Mahabharata alongside Kauravas. After losing, he didn’t go back to his capital but captured Trigarta and built the fort. Kangra is a part of Trigarta, which was created from the drop of sweat of Goddess Ambika, who was fighting a demon.

There was a large idol of the goddess in the fort, and every neighboring state used to send gold, silver, and precious jewelry and stones to please her. It is said that the treasure was so immense that it could not be recorded, transported or contained into vessels. Legend has it that the entire treasure was stored in 21 wells within the fort. The lure of the treasure led Alexander the Great, Mahmud Ghazni, Jehangir, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and Britishers to attack the temple. Many believe that 8 secret wells still exist to hide the treasure.

In 1905, a 7.8 Richter earthquake shook Dharamshala, and the fort, which had not yielded to any of the strong rulers, bent its knees to the power of nature. Even its ruins are more beautiful than some forts. Just the history and magnificence of the fort make it one of the best places to visit in Dharamsala. 

6. Gyuto Monastery

Gyuto MonasteryThe monastery is so colorful and vibrant that you cannot afford to miss a visit. The tantric techniques and philosophy are widely practiced here. The history of this place is prolific, built in the year 1474 by a disciple of the first Dalai Lama. Since then, this place has been attracting a deluge of tantric meditation practitioners from across India. The Black Magic tradition is preserved and promoted here, providing a live example of how Black Magic can be used to heal and help. Contrarily, Black Magic is considered as a means to hurt others. 

The place is painted in yellow, and its colorfully dressed monks are friendly. You can wander around aimlessly and explore the riches. The monastery is situated on the top of a hill, and the view from up here is breathtaking, with white Dhauladhar Mountains in the distance and the silver line of the Beas River. The Buddha statue makes this place more magical. When the sunshine touches the gold-plated statue, it creates a  view that is panoramic, blinding, and spiritual. Well, it deserves to be on the list of Dharamshala places to visit. 

7. Masrur Temple

Masrur TempleAncient Indian architecture was way ahead of its time. A proof of it exists in the form of Masrur rock-cut temples in Himachal Pradesh. Even though the temples are situated at a distance of 40 km from Dharamshala, you can’t afford to miss them. There are a total of 15 monolithic structures situated here, built-in Indo-Aryan style. The temples are situated on a hilltop at the height of 2535 feet above sea level.

The main temple houses stone idols of Lord Ram, Goddess Sita, and Lord Laxman. The temples are believed to have been around since the sixth century AD. Legend has it that Pandavas spent some time of their exile here. There is a pond in the middle of the complex, featuring crystal clear water all year round. These large structures are beautiful and how one would have carved them out of stone is worth appreciating.    

There is a central shrine in Masrur, surrounded by 14 other shrines. The major attraction of the complex is Thakurdwara, which has Lord Shiva carved on it. The way this beauty has been carved out of stone and how nature has preserved it over the years is amazing. This is one of the best places to visit in Dharamsala for every spiritualist and architecture lover.

8. Dal Lake

Dal LakeSprawling green grounds, a stunning lake, shining sun, boats, tall deodars lining the lake, Dal Lake has it all and more to leave the visitor speechless. The Dal lake of Dharamshala is a favorite spot among tourists who want to enjoy the calm greenish water, the cool breeze, boat rides, and trekking. These are perhaps the best things to do in Dharamshala. 

It is situated 11 km from Dharamshala near the village of Tota Rani at the height of 1775 meters above sea level. The thick deodar forests surround the lake and make it such a soul-satisfying place. A trek through the lake is an experience in itself. Boat rides are one of the major attractions here as people like to tread the greenish water.

You will find several people here with their picnic baskets, some lying on their blankets in the bright sun. Pilgrims pay their visits to the famous Shiva temple situated on the banks. From May to October, this place is a paradise for tourists. In September, a fair is organized here annually. 

Don’t forget to pack your trekking shoes and woolens. If you are into fishing, you can sit here peacefully and expect some catch. Don’t step into the water. It’s infested with snakes.

9. War Memorial

War MemorialEvery Indian must remember that the freedom they enjoy has been obtained through sacrifices. India has been a part of several wars, including 1947-1948, 1962, 1965, and 1971. Several soldiers sacrificed their lives in all these wars, and their martyrdom is saluted here in the War Memorial in Dharamshala, one of the best places to visit in Dharamshala. 

This memorial features 24-feet high black stones that bear the name of every martyr who has sacrificed his life in the wars. To pay respect to their sacrifice and value freedom, you must visit this War Memorial. There are beautiful roses planted in the place, alongside the Amar Jawan Jyoti, which stays lit at all times to depict eternal and powerful India.

Look at the stone panels and read the names of the numerous soldiers who didn’t think twice about their lives. They fought bravely and became India’s pride. The scenic beauty of this place is worth admiring. There are cafes and restaurants here where you can enjoy some tasty snacks afterward. You require paying an entry fee of Rs. 10. Parking charges of Rs. 20 are charged separately. Any local taxi can get you there. 

10. Naddi Village

Naddi VillageThe entire Dharamshala is a quiet town but if you want to enjoy a day’s stay or two in the lap of nature without any sightseeing, go to the Naddi village. It is only 3 km from McLeodganj and famous for the fairs and festivities. This is a sparsely populated area where tourists find a break from their daily lives. As one of the Dharamshala places to visit, the village is located at 7152 feet above sea level. 

The village boasts a picturesque valley, mountains, clouds, and, most importantly, peace. It is famous for trekking and backpacking. Adventure lovers call it a perfect paradise, while peace seekers love its serenity. Echo point is a popular tourist attraction, and during fairs, this place is altogether different giving you the taste of the Dharamshala culture. 

People who visit Dharamshala always have Naddi village on their bucket list. April-June is the best time to visit. A day or two here will relax your mind and soul.

Final Thoughts

It is hard, to sum up, the beauty, serenity, history, and culture of Dharamshala. The tourist places in Dharamshala are numerous, but visiting them all is a dream unless you are on a month-long trip. Besides the above-mentioned places to visit in Dharamshala, a few notable mentions include Triund, Dharamkot, Kangra valley, Kangra Museum, Dharamshala Cricket Stadium, and more.

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Sameeksha Medewar
Sameeksha Medewar
With 3+ years of experience in curating highly-informative and well-researched technical blogs, Sameeksha is a passionate technical writer, technology enthusiast, and computer science graduate. Besides, she enjoys curating copies of travel, entertainment, and food.

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