19 Must-Visit Places in Dharamshala and McLeodganj (2020)
About Dharamsala: Dharamshala is one of the many beautiful hill stations in India surrounded by mountains and valleys. Located in the Kangra district in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India, is the home to his holiness the Dalai lama. Dharamshala, also known as Dharamsala, is surrounded by cedar trees and thick deodar forests with the Dhauladhar range in the background is one of the most beautiful places in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Dharamshala is a strikingly beautiful and picturesque hill station tucked away in the Himalayas and has several places to visit. It is also home to the Tibetan government-in-exile.
About Mcleodganj: Mcleodganj is a hill station near Dharamshala and is very popular among nature lovers. Its culture is a beautiful blend of Tibetan with some British influence. The famous Thekchen Chöling Temple Complex is located in the city which is a spiritual center for Tibetan Buddhism. Mcleodganj is also known as Little Lhasa and famous around the world for being home to the holiness of the Dalai Lama. McleodGanj is a beautiful town situated near the upper Dharamsala. The city also has a library of Tibetan Works which has the year-old archives and thousands of precious manuscripts from the yesteryears. The city of Mcleodganj also has a quite Tibetan population as well.
In addition to the beauty of the place which makes it one of the most visited hill stations in Himachal Pradesh round the year, this place has religious and spiritual importance for the Buddhists. There are several monasteries, temples, lakes, stunning waterfalls, museums, forts and above all the mountains for a peaceful break from city life. The best time to travel to Dharamshala is during the months of summer when the weather is pleasant although the place has a decent number of tourists round the year trying to escape the city life for as long as they can stay away from the busy lives. There are many beautiful places for sightseeing in Dharamshala which also have historical importance.
Dharamshala city is divided into two parts, one is the upper Dharamshala, and the other is lower Dharamshala. Both areas have places to visit and of historic importance. You can have a view of the beautiful Dhauladhar snow-capped peaks from many places in Dharamshala. From February to June is believed to be the best time to visit Dharamshala. You can get a good insight into the rich Tibetan culture from your visit to Dharamshala. Most tourists come back to Dharamshala after their first visit because actually, no one can get enough of this beautiful place. It captivates the heart of the tourist and they will be forced to come back after visiting Dharamshala once. In addition to the culture, the most important reason to come back to Dharamshala is the peace and calmness you feel in the silence of the hills. The serenity and eloquence in the hills are not comparable to any other place. It is the perfect destination for your much-awaited family holiday. There are many places to visit in Dharamshala and numerous things to do.
Well do not just see the places, you will get to live them and make memories in this beautiful city. So, make most of your time by visiting the best places and spots in Dharamshala and McLeodgunj.
19 Must-Visit Places in Dharamshala and McLeodganj
1. Masrur Rock Cut Temple: Masrur rock-cut temple is a heritage site very close to Dharamshala. It is located on a hilltop near Dharamshala in the Kangra valley -Beas basin of Himachal Pradesh. The Masrur temples face northeast which is towards the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas. They are built in north Indian Nagara architecture style and are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, and Saura traditions of Hinduism. Masrur temple is an 8th-century temple made of monolithic rock carvings. When the sky is clear one can look at the snowy peaks of majestic Dhauladhar range which looks splendid from the temple. The Masrur rock-cut temple complex is laid out on a square grid and the main temple is surrounded by smaller temples in a mandala pattern. The main sanctum sanctorum of the temples complex has a square plan. The temple also has a 1250 square meter pond which is always filled with rainwater. The are many fishes in the pond. People who go there also enjoy feeding the fish. The sanctum has nine gods and goddesses inside with Lord Shiva in the center. The other deities include Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, and Maa Durga. They also have around 15 small temples for Lord Kartikeya, Lord Indra, Lord Surya, Maa Saraswati, Maa Lakshmi, and Lord Vishnu. There are also small shrines for the 20th-century gods like Lord Rama, Lord Lakshman, and Goddess in the temple. It is a beautiful site and should not be missed on your visit to Dharamshala.
2. Dharamshala Cricket Stadium: Dharamshala cricket stadium also known as Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium or the HPCA stadium is a beautiful and picturesque cricket stadium located in Dharamshala. The stadium is nestled in the lap of Himalayas and is a sight to behold. You will be blown away by the beauty of this place. The stadium is located at an altitude of 1,457 m above the sea level and has the snow-capped Himalayan mountains in the background. It makes the stadium one of the highest cricket grounds in the world. The ground usually serves as the practice ground for the team of the state of Himachal Pradesh as well as the Indian Premier League (IPL) team Kings XI Punjab. The beauty of this place makes it a tourist spot too. The stadium is open for the tourists to visit when there are no matches scheduled. Going to a cricket stadium while in Dharamshala might sound a little uncanny but what more can one ask for when you get to enjoy the country’s favorite sport in the lap of Himalayas. The stadium can seat 23,000 spectators at the same time and is well laced to host national and international matches. The spectators will be confused about whether to enjoy the match or enjoy the beauty of the mountains.
3. Kareri Lake: Kareri lake is also known as Kumarwah Lake. It is a shallow and freshwater lake that is located to the south of the Dhauladhar range and is about 9 kilometers to the northwest of Dharamshala in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. The source of water in this lake is the snow melting from the Dhauladhar mountains and the Nyund stream is the outflow. You would be able to see the lakebed most of the time since the source is fresh melting snow which makes the lake shallow and water visibility very high. It is located at an altitude of 2,934 meters above sea level. The Kareri Lake is a trekking destination in the Dhauladhar range and trekkers generally camp around the river. While the most popular treks around the region are Trihund trek and the Indrahar pass trek, people going to Kareri lake are less than these two destinations. Well if you do not like crowded or commercialized treks or places and want to enjoy the raw natural beauty, you must head to kareri lake for a short getaway to enjoy nature at its best. The lake is generally frozen during the winter i.e. around December to March which makes it another reason to be visited and adds an element of serenity to it. However, if you visit the place once, you will anyway want to go to Kareri lake again to enjoy the stillness and calmness of the place to boost your senses. when the lake is frozen and an air of tranquility envelopes it. Nature-lovers should not miss going to Kareri lake while their visit to Dharamshala. The Kareri lake also has beautiful trees and colorful perennial flowers which add to the beauty of this place.
4. Naddi Village: Naddi is a small village around 9.5 km from Dharamshala and is very popular for the view of the majestic and picturesque mountains from this place. Naddi village is located at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level, in the upper reaches of the Kangra valley. Most people come here for trekking and generally stay and enjoy the beauty of this place for a few hours and then head forward or back to the main city. Walking on the narrow streets of the village amongst the majestic mountains is of a kind experience and is fulfilling. This is a quaint town away from the hustle and bustle of the city is a perfect destination to enjoy the local street Tibetan food and enjoy the view of the valleys. People also come here to enjoy the beautiful sunrise and sunset from this place which is a unique experience. Watching the sun rising and setting behind the mountains is a sight to behold from the Naddi village. This is quite a place to enjoy natural beauty if that is something you enjoy during your vacatio. Do not miss spending some time at Naddi village during your visit to Dharamshala.
5. Library of Tibetan Works And Archives: The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA) is a Tibetan library founded by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th his holiness Dalai Lama on 11 June 1970, and is considered one of the most important libraries and institutions of Tibetan works in the world is located in Dharamshala in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The devastation of Tibet brought by the Chinese communists in 1959 has rendered the existence of Tibetan culture in peril. The cultural heritage of Tibet was on the verge of destruction including scores of learning centers, ancient manuscripts, artifacts, and countless other aspects of heritage. Given the threat to the cultural heritage and realizing the importance of saving the culture and precariousness of the situation His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama conceived of and founded the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives to restore, protect, preserve and promote the Tibetan culture. The library possesses more than 80,000 manuscripts, books, and documents, 600 thangkas, statues, and other artifacts of Buddhist heritage, 10,000 photographs including other materials.
6. St John in the Wilderness Church: St. John in the Wilderness was built in 1852 and is one of the most important churches in Himachal Pradesh. This church is located near Dharamshala on the way to Mcleodganj at Forsyth Gunj. The church is built in neo-gothic architecture and was dedicated to John the Baptist hence the name, St. John in the Wilderness. It is located amidst lush deodar forests and the beauty of the place will steal your heart. The church is known for Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin. A church with the same name is located in Nainital, Uttarakhand, and is usually confuses with this one. A major earthquake hit Kangra district in 1905 which killed several people in the region. Although St. John in the Wilderness church survived the earthquake, its bell tower was destroyed. Later a new bell tower was brought from England by Mears and Stainbank in 1915 and was installed outside in the compound of the church. It is one of the oldest built structures in the city of Dharamshala. This serenity and beauty of the place are worth experiencing while your next visit to Dharamshala.
7. War Memorial: Dharamshala War Memorial is located at the entry point of the Dharamshala town and it was built to commemorate the memory of those who fought for their motherland. The memorial is surrounded by gardens, has thick deodar trees which are quite peculiar to the place and poetic little paths leading to the Memorial. The War Memorial was built to commemorate the soldiers who in the post-independence era during the operations of 1947-48, 1962, 1965, and 1971. The names of the soldiers are inscribed in stone at the memorial and are worth looking at and paying your respects to the ones who are gone. In addition to paying respect to the soldiers who happily gave their lives for the country, this is a very beautiful place to walk among the pine forest. Additionally, there are two main attractions close to the War Memorial one, the beautiful GPG College Dharamshala which was built during the British Era and a small quaint café serving fast food which is generally full of people.
8. Tea Garden: Tea garden in Dharamshala is one the smallest tea region of India but is a sight to behold. Tea garden in the middle of the mountains is a pleasant and serene sight. Dharamshala has beautifully lined and organized tea gardens across the Kangra Valley. You can spend a few hours soaking the beauty of this place. The product is of very good quality and tea can be purchased from many shops across Dharamshala and Mcleodganj.
9. Kangra Art Museum: The Kangra Museum is dedicated to the Tibetan and Buddhist artwork and their cultural heritage and rich history. The museum is dedicated to reflecting the art of tribal culture which is neatly and beautifully and neatly reflected in the art pieces kept at the museum. The museum has a huge collection of precious collectibles are jewelry, rare coin memorabilia, paintings, sculptures, and pottery.
10. Aghanjar Mahadev Temple: Aghanjar Mahadev Temple is a beautiful temple located very close to Dharamshala in the Khaniyara village. This temple is surrounded by mountains and forests which makes it a beautiful place to visit. The place attracts a lot of tourists in addition to the pilgrims. Mythology says that Lord Shiva appeared before Arjuna, one among the Pandav brothers on his way to Mount Kailash at the spot of Aghanjar Mahadev Temple and blessed him to have victory over the Kauravas. Aghanjar Mahadev Temple is about 5 km from Dharamshala at the foothills of the Dhauladhar mountains. The temple is around 500 years old. The construction of this temple is very unique and is in the middle of the mountains makes it a more beautiful spot. There is a small waterfall also behind the temple and the cool breeze, peace, and serenity around the temple are worth experiencing.
11. Dal Lake: Dal lake is located at a height of 1,775 meters above the sea level near the village of Tota Rani in the Kangra district of Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh. It is a small but stunning lake surrounded by trees all around which adds to the glory of this lake. The entire area around the lake is picturesque and very beautiful. The place looks so beautiful that it is named after the dal lake in Kashmir. Located in the idle of majestic mountains and surrounded by sky-high deodar trees this lake is quaint and calm and an ideal place to enjoy a peaceful day sitting on its banks. There are several types of fishes in the lake and people enjoy feeding the fishes while visiting the lake. Make sure you bring some food for the fishes too when you are packing for the picnic. Dal lake is a prominent tourist attraction is visited by nature lovers throughout the year. People going for treks in the surrounding areas like to stop here, rest, and enjoy some time here. Dal Lake is also a perfect place to stop over and relax if you are trekking up to Naddi at the sunset point. An annual fair is also organized at the banks of Dal lake in September as there is a very famous Shiva temple around the lake. This fair is attended by a large number of people of the Gaddi Tribe.
12. Triund Hill: One of the most famous places to be visited by the tourists while visiting Mcleodganj is Triund Hill. It is the favorite spot for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Triund is a part of Dharamkot and the hilltop is located at a distance of 17 km from Dharamshala. Triund top offers a stunning view of the valleys as the Dhauladhar mountain range starts just 5kms from Triund. Adventure seekers like to stay in camps on the hill-top for a night while visiting the Triund hills. It is an easy trek and can be accomplished by people of all age groups. It offers a view of the Dhauladhar mountains range on one side and Kangra valley on the other. The view on top of the hills is worth everything and this must not be missed while visiting Mcleoganj.
13. Bhagsunag Waterfall: The Bhagsunag waterfall is one of the most famous tourist spots in Mcleodganj. The majestic waterfall is a great spot to spend time with your friends and family. You will need to walk a little to reach the main waterfall. The waterfall starts at the base of the Dhauladhar Valley, which is also considered to be a religious spot. The prime attraction is also the famous Bhagsunath Temple. The waterfall is located on the road connecting Dharamshala and Mcleodganj and is a good and famous picnic spot for people residing nearby or to spend some time with friends and family. The stream of the waterfall also passes through the famous Bhagsunath Temple before it cascades downwards. The best season to visit the waterfall is during monsoon when it reaches its full glory. There are many cafes located close to the Bhagsunag waterfall serving scrumptious food and snacks. Some people also choose to bathe in the waterfall as the water is clean and fresh. It is however not possible to bathe in the waterfalls during the colder months as the water is too cold to bear. However, do not miss this beautiful spot located amid beautiful hills in Mcleodganj.
14. Tsuglagkhang Complex: Tsuglagkhang complex is his holiness the Dalai lama’s home in Mcleodganj. It is one of the most prominent places of worship and it attracts devotees and visitors from all over the world. The complex has many buildings including Dalai lama’s residence, Tsuglagkhang Temple, Namgyal Monastery, and Tibet Museum. Except for Dalai Lama’s residence, every other part of the complex is open for tourists. If you are lucky and if his holiness is home, you might get to meet him too. The Tsuglagkhang Complex also has a beautiful statue of Lord Buddha as well as statues of Chenrezig and Guru Rinpoche.
15. Tibetan Museum: Tibet Museum is located inside the Tsuglagkhang complex. It is very famous among the tourists and knowledge seekers who want to know and understand the history of Tibet. The museum gives an insight into the rich Tibetan cultural heritage and the history of Tibetans and how they were removed from their motherland. You will find imprints of Tibetan art and culture in the museum. There are numerous historical documents, pottery, handicrafts, paintings, etc. which have been preserved. The museum gives tourists an insight into Tibetan culture and at the same time, the various struggles faced by the Tibetans. The facade of the Tibet Museum is influenced by Tibetan architecture which adds to the beauty of this place. Tibet museum has a permanent exhibition named “A Long Look Homeward” which is dedicated to Tibet’s recent history, the Chinese occupation, and the Tibetan exile experience. The museum should not be missed if you want to know about Tibetan history and culture in detail.
16. Namgyal Monastery: Namgyal monastery is his holiness the Dalai lama’s temple located inside the Tsuglagkhang complex. It is the personal monastery of the 14th Dalai Lama. It is also called Namgyal Tantric College. The key role of the monastery is to assist with rituals involving the Dalai Lama of Tibet. The foundation of the Namgyal Monastery was laid down in the 16th century by the second Dalai Lama and was set up for the monks to help Dalai Lamas in their religious affairs. Monks are residing here in the monastery who carry out practices for the well-being of Tibet and work as a center of learning and meditation on the Buddhist philosophical exposition. The monastery currently houses 200 monks who work towards protecting the practices, skills, and traditions of the monastery, culture, and religious practices of Tibetan culture. They also study in this monastery institute. They study Tibetan and English languages, texts of Sutra and Tantra, Buddhist philosophy, sand mandalas, ritual chanting, and dances are all included in the study of Buddhism.
17. Norbulingka Institute: Norbulingka Institute is dedicated to the preservation of arts and cultural heritage of Tibetans. The institute is named after Norbulingka which is called the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lamas, in Lhasa, Tibet. The ground plan is based on the proportions of Avalokitesvara who the thousand-armed god of compassion with the temple as the head is. The motive of the institute is to retain the artistic knowledge and techniques which were achieved at the pinnacle of Tibetan Buddhist civilization in Tibet and to pass the knowledge and skill to the young people and those who are interested in pursuing their cultural heritage. The institute does this through a sustainable business model whereby the students or the learners act as the institute’s patrons. The institute is open for visitors to see the rate crafts created by the people here and also allows you to buy them. By visiting this place you will not only be enjoying the rich and rare cultural heritage of Tibet but you will also support the young Tibetans living in exile.
18. Kalachakra Temple: Kalchakra is a Sanskrit term which means the wheel of time. It is one of many tantric teachings and esoteric practices in Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. The tradition’s origins are in India and its presence has also been seen in the monasteries of Tibet. Kalachakra temple is located inside the Thekchen Chöling temple complex in Mcleodganj and was built in 1992. Kalachakra Temple is situated on the west side of the Tsuglagkhang Temple, the shrine is known for housing the stunning murals of Kalachakra. This temple is used as a center of public teaching by his holiness the Dalai Lama himself. The temple is built in traditional Tibetan style temples and is an architectural marvel. You will get to see the art and history of Tibet coming alive in this building. The walls and the pillars of the temple are adorned with several beautiful traditional Tibetan Thangka paintings. The temple also houses a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, and it is surrounded by seven hundred and seventy-two deities of the mandala with a central Kalachakra image. Known to be one of the most popular religious pilgrimage sites in Dharamsala and Mcleodganj, the temple complex also houses a book shop and quaint cafe. There is an annual feast celebrated here on the 15th day of the third Tibetan month. Do not miss visiting the temple and enjoying the rich Tibetan culture and basking in the glory of Buddhism.
19. Nechung Monastery: The name comes after the famous and first Nechung Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet. It had 115 monks in 1959 and was razed to the ground during the Revolution. Six monks managed to escape to India who has continued all the traditions of the Nechung Institution. The Tibetan government in exile had granted a small piece of land to Nechung monastery and a school and learning center was built here. The Nechung Monastery in India is located at a distance of 2.5 km from Dharamshala and 3 km from McLeodGanj. It is located just below the Tibetan Library in Gangchen Kyishong and is one of the major attractions in McLeodGanj. Neching monastery is also a part of the Tsuglagkhang Complex. Nechung Monastery is considered as the seat of the State Oracle and protector-deity of His Holiness Dalai Lama and Tibet. It holds a great and prominent place in Tibetan history and Buddhist religion. Nechung has been a spiritual guide to the Tibetan Government since the 18th century and the physical medium is called Nechung Kuten. The mythology says that when the medium enters into a trance-like state, the protector takes possession of his body and gives advice and predictions to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan leaders.