Dharamshala is a popular hill town located in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is situated in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley at an elevation of 1,457 meters above sea level. Since ancient times the region surrounding Dharamshala has been ruled by the Katoch Dynasty of Kangra, which is also the oldest surviving royal dynasty in the world. Following several wars and battles, the region came under the control of the British in 1848. Following the British annexation, the region was developed into a cantonment town for the Gurkha Light Infantry known as the Gurkha Rifles in 1860.
In the year 1959, almost a decade after the Indian independence, the town became a refuge for the 14th Dalai Lama who was fleeing Tibet along with the government officials following the failed Tibetan uprising. It is known to be the seat of the 14th Dalai Lama and also the administrative seat of the Central Tibetan Government in Exile. Today, Dharamshala has become a popular tourist getaway and a settlement for thousands of Tibetan exiles.
Located in the foothills of the mighty Dhaulandar range of the outer Himalayas, the climate in Dharamshala stays pleasant throughout the year. The summer months from April till June see the maximum temperatures that rarely go beyond 30 degrees Celsius. Maximum precipitation is experienced during the monsoon months between July and September, making Dharamshala one of the wettest places in the state. The autumn months of October and November see the most pleasant climates that range between 16-17 degrees with occasional showers. The winter months from December till February see sudden drop in temperatures to being 7-5 degrees Celsius.
Best Time to Visit
Dharamshala can be visited during all times of the year except for monsoons which can experience rainfall upto 120 inches. The best time to visit is usually the autumn months of October and November which also mark the beginning of the festive season in India. Snow is common in the upper reaches of the town which also attracts several tourists during the winters.
Attractions/Things to Do
The town is divided into 2 areas, each separated by a short distance of 10 kilometers. The upper Dharamshala is known more commonly as McLeod Ganj and is the home of the Tibetan community in exile. It is the center of all the tourist activities and most information related to Dharamshala mostly refers to McLeod Ganj. The lower Dharamshala contains all the commercial centers, educational institutions and hospitals. One can also find a few tea gardens and the bus station in lower Dharamshala.
Bhagasu, Dharamkot, Tsuglagkhang Complex, Tibet Museum, Bhagsunag falls, Dal Lake, Indrahar pass, Triund and meeting the Dalai Lama are few of the major attractions that can be visited in Dharamshala.
How to Reach
The nearest airport to Dharamshala is at a short distance of 15 minutes from upper dharamshala and can be reached via flights from Delhi. The nearest railway station is located in the town of Pathankot which is connected by trains that run via Delhi. The best way to reach dharamshala is by road as it its well connected with the surrounding towns and can be reached by bus that passes through winding hill passes. Taxis are also available from Pathankot and Delhi.
Distance from Major Cities
1. Kangra to Dharamshala – 29 kilometers
2. Pathankot to Dharamshala – 86 kilometers
3. Dalhousie to Dharamshala – 119 kilometers
4. Jammu to Dharamshala – 193 kilometers
5. Shimla to Dharamshala – 239 kilometers
6. Dehradun to Dharamshala – 396 kilometers
7. Chandigarh to Dharamshala – 241 kilometers
8. Delhi to Dharamshala – 486 kilometers
9. Jaipur to Dharamshala – 713 kilometers
10. Lucknow to Dharamshala – 919 kilometers
11. Ahmedabad to Dharamshala – 1,379 kilometers
12. Mumbai to Dharamshala – 1,850 kilometers
13. Kolkata to Dharamshala – 1,942 kilometers
14. Hyderabad to Dharamshala – 2,013 kilometers
15. Bangalore to Dharamshala – 2,603 kilometers
Accessibility and Accommodation
Being a tourist town, Dharamshala has no shortage of accommodation facilities from luxury resorts to budget lounges and inns. There are several Buddhist meditation centers that provide both food and lodging to the visitors for 5-30 days meditational courses. The nearby towns of Bhagasu and Dharamkot are bustling with hotels, café and restaurants for the tourists.