Here are the best things to do in Dharamshala that you should include in your Dharamshala and McLeodganj itinerary.
Dharamshala, the beautiful winter capital of Himachal Pradesh is a traveller’s delight in more ways than one. The things to do in Dharamshala and the places to see are soul-soothing, to say the least. Dharamshala and its suburb, McLeodganj which is also known as, “Little Lhasa,” together have a plethora of activities and places that are sure to charm visitors.
The presence of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-exile lends a unique aura to Dharamshala. It comes alive with the vestiges of the colonial presence seamlessly integrated with Tibetan cultural influence and ancient Hindu culture. Any Himachal Pradesh itinerary would remain incomplete if you were not to include a Dharamshala and McLeodganj itinerary within it.
We present here a comprehensive list of places to visit in Dharamshala and McLeodganj, and you can plan a 2 Day trip to Mcleodganj and Dharamshala from the places and activities that we have listed out. So, you can either fit in places and activities for a Dharamshala/Mcleod Ganj Itinerary of 2 Days, or factor in more days for your trip.
One of the top things to do when in Dharamshala or Mcleodganj is actually to do nothing! Just soak in the beautiful vibes of the Dhauladhar ranges, and let the mountain air rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul. But if you are out there to see places and experience activities, there is much to experience amidst the swaying cedar trees that greet you at every twist and turn in the road.
Things To Do In Dharamshala | Dharamshala Mcleodganj Itinerary | Dharamshala Itinerary 2 Days
There is a lot to do in Dharamshala and McLeodganj. There is something that is bound to appeal to all types of travellers, across age groups. Nature spreads its arms wide for nature lovers with amazing viewpoints and treks. For those looking for spiritual solace, there are temples, churches, and monasteries that beckon visitors with their divine aura.
For those who want to delve deep into history and heritage, museums and other heritage sites stand with open doors. Finally, for adventure junkies, there are many exciting activities at Dharamshala and McLeodganj. In a nutshell, whether you are travelling with your family, solo, or as a couple, Dharamshala has something exciting for you to discover and experience.
Experience Spirituality In The Monasteries – Things To Do In Dharamshala
Dharamshala is a place where the sounds of the rustling leaves of Cedar trees and mystical Buddhist chants merge harmoniously in the air. One of the main reasons why tourists flock to Dharamshala is the presence of the Dalai Lama. Apart from the Dalai Lama temple, many other Buddhist monasteries add to the place’s spiritual aura.
Visit Dalai Lama Temple (Tsuglagkhang Complex)
The Tsuglagkhang Complex, popularly known as the Dalai Lama Temple, is the main motivation for most people to visit Dharamshala. It is a sacred place and a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists, especially Tibetans. It houses the official residence of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. A monastery where more than 200 Buddhist monks live and study is also housed within the complex. The Buddhist temples of Thekchen Choeling and Kalachakra are also housed within the complex.
Visit Theckchen Choeling Buddhist Temple
The Theckchen Choeling Temple is located within the larger Tsuglagkhang Complex. It is the main temple inside the complex and the principal deities are Shakyamuni Buddha, Padma Sambhava or Guru Rinpoche, and Avalokieshwara.
The temple architecture is spartan, but the images of the deities are truly resplendent and embellished with gold, silver, and other precious metals, as well as precious stones. The Theckchen Choeling temple also has stupas fashioned from bronze and bell metal. The temple also houses about 100 volumes of Kangur which are ancient Buddhist texts believed to contain the teachings of Buddha that were directly spoken by him. About 225 volumes of Tengyur, a collection of commentaries on Buddhist teachings are also treasured in the temple.
Visit Namgyal Monastery
The Namgyal Monastery is the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama and is the one that is actually known as the Dalai Lama Temple. It is located within the Tsuglagkhang Complex. It is a monastery that includes all the four main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, namely, Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug, in the curriculum and rituals of the monastery.
The Namgyal Monastery was originally established by the second Dalai Lama, Gedun Gyatso in the 15th century in Tibet. It was relocated to Dharamshala after the Dalai Lama established the Tibetan Government-in-Exile there. It is also known as Namgyal Tantric College, and more than 200 monks study the tenets of Buddhism here.
Visit Kalachakra Temple
The Kalachakra Temple is also located within the Tsuglagkhang Complex. Kalachakra which literally translates as, “wheel of time,” is a Buddhist tantric practice. The Kalachakra temple has beautiful murals of Avalokiteshwara and Sand Mandalas. The Namgyal Monastery trains monks in various aspects of Kalachakra including initiation, construction of Sand Mandalas and other rituals and dances of the Kalachakra ceremony.
Visit Gyuto Monastery
The Gyuto Monastery is located in the Sidhbari suburb of Dharamshala town. It is about 12 kilometres from the Dalai Lama temple. This is a monastery that is dedicated to the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
Visit Nechung Monastery
The Nechung Monastery is considered sacred as it is the seat of the State Oracle of Tibet. After the formation of the Tibet Government-in-Exile in Dharmashala, the Nechung Monastery has been established in McLeodganj. It is located about 2 kilometres from the Tsuglagkhang Complex.
Visit Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery
The Dip Tse Chok Ling Monastery, also referred to as Tsechokling Monastery is located at a distance of under 2 kilometres from the main Dalai Lama Temple in Upper Dharamshala. It belongs to the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Like many other monasteries, the original one was established in Tibet during the 18th century. The monastery in Dharamshala in the current location came up in 1984.
Visit Mani Lakhang Stupa
The Mani Lakhang Stupa which is also known as the Prayer Wheels Stupa was established in Dharmashala under the guidance of the third Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. The Mani Lakhang Stupa was established in the year 2001 and is a hallowed spot for Buddhists. The Mani Lakhang Stupa is located within 2 kilometres of the main Dalai Lama temple.
Come Close To Divinity In The Temples – Things To Do In Dharamshala
If Buddhist chants fill the air of Dharmashala with spirituality, the chants from Hindu temples merge seamlessly with them. There are a few ancient temples that have many interesting legends associated with them. These temples are linked to ancient Hindu mythology and are places that you must visit when in Dharamshala or McLeodganj.
Visit Bhagsunag Temple
The Bhagsunag temple lends its name to the village in Mcleodganj, where it is located. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva and the serpent God, Nag Devta. The temple is small and within the temple complex is situated a holy spring, whose sacred waters are believed to possess healing properties.
The Bhagsunag Temple is associated with the legend of a King named Bhagsu, who was challenged to a duel by the Serpent God and was vanquished. The water that he had taken from the Nag Dal Lake, fell, creating a spring at the place. The Bhagsunag temple is at a distance of about 3 kilometres from the Dalai Lama temple, in McLeodganj.
Visit Aghanjar Mahadev Temple
The Aghanjar Mahadev Temple is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed to be over 500 years old. The temple is located in a suburb of Dharamshala, called Khanyara, at a distance of about 11 kilometres from the Dalai Lama temple.
The temple nestles in a scenic location, surrounded by lush forests, mountains, and streams. Legend has it that in the Mahabharata, Arjun was on his way to Kailash to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva for the Kurukshetra war. Lord Shiva appeared before Arjuna at the spot where the Aghanjar Mahadev temple is located.
Visit Shri Durveshwar Mahadev Temple
The Sri Durveshwar Mahadev Temple is a Shiva temple that is located on an elevation that overlooks the Dal Lake. It is believed that the legendary Rishi Durvasa, had meditated here, hence the name Durveshwar Mahadev. The current temple is built by a person named Kaleshar Singh Rana, according to a board near the entrance to the temple.
The Dal Lake and the Durveshwar Mahadev temple are considered as sacred as the Mani Mahesh Lake and Kailash Parvat. The place has been referred to as Chhota Mani Mahesh. People who are unable to undertake the arduous Mani Mahesh Yatra, visit the Dal Lake and bathe in its sacred waters, after which they take darshan of Lord Shiva at the Durveshwar Mahadev temple.
The Durveshwar Mahadev Temple is located about 5 kilometres from the Dalai Lama Temple, on the way to Naddi Village from McLeodganj.
Visit Mata Chintpurni Temple
The Mata Chintpurni Temple is located exactly opposite the Sri Durveshwar Mahadev temple and overlooks the Dal Lake. This is a small temple set in serene surroundings and is not to be confused with the Chintpurni temple in the Una District of Himachal Pradesh. That temple is a Shakti Peeth, where a part of Sati’s feet is believed to have fallen.
Mata Chintpurni Devi is a manifestation of Durga and is also known as Maa Chinnamastika – the one with a detached head. The temple is located about 5 kilometres from the Dalai Lama temple.
Experience Serenity In The Churches – Things To Do In Dharamshala
Dharamshala was a hill station that was established by the British. Many vestiges of the colonial period have survived the ravages of time and the devastating earthquake that rocked the Kangra valley in 1905.
Visit St John In The Wilderness Church
St John In The Wilderness Church is a very old church that dates back to the colonial period. The beautiful St John In The Wilderness Church lies beneath the benevolent shade of giant cedar trees and is a serene place to visit. The church was built in the year 1852.
A memorial to James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin and Viceroy and Governor-General of India in the 19th century, is located within the churchyard. Many Britishers who died in the earthquake lie buried along with James Bruce in the Church Yard of St John in the Wilderness.
This church is a beautiful example of neo-gothic architecture, complete with exquisite stained-glass windows. The Church is located about 3 kilometres from the Dalai Lama Temple in a suburb of Dharamshala called Forsythganj.
Experience Nature’s Magic – Things To Do In Dharamshala
You are sure to notice a spring in your walk as soon as you step into the enchanting environs of Dharamshala. The sheer beauty of the Dhauladhar ranges, the forests, the gurgling streams, the cascading waterfalls, and the never-ending stretch of Deodhar trees are simply mesmerising. Here are some of the beautiful spots where nature unfolds its magic in McLeodganj and Dharamshala.
Visit Bhagsu Falls
A small trek from behind the Bhagsunag Temple takes you to the foot of the Bhagsu waterfalls. The water cascades down in a steady stream from a height of about 20 metres. and creates a small rocky pool. The real beauty of the Bhagsunag waterfall can be appreciated in the rainy season when the water is in full flow.
During winters the area is covered by snow. One can also trek to the top of the waterfalls. From the Bhagsunag temple, one needs to trek about a kilometre to reach the foot of the falls. The falls are located at a distance of about 4 kilometres from the Dalai Lama temple.
Visit Dal Lake
The Dal Lake is a captivating waterbody that is fringed with tall Deodhar trees on one side. Sacred temples overlook the lake, giving it a mystical aura.
The Dal lake is also known as, “Chhota Mani Mahesh,” and is considered as sacred as the Mani Mahesh Lake in Kailash. Dal Lake is about 5 kilometres from the Dalai Lama temple.
Visit Naddi Village View Point
Naddi Village is a picturesque village located about 6 kilometres from the Dalai Lama Temple. It is the starting point for many treks. The Naddi Village View Point offers a ringside view of the majestic Dauladhar range of mountains.
The snow-capped mountains can be viewed at close range from the vantage point that Naddi Village offers. The presence of dainty cafes and Yoga and meditation camps, make Naddi Village a much sought-after destination in Dharamshala.
Educate Yourself At The Museums, Memorials And Heritage Sites – Things To Do In Dharamshala
One of the first things to do in Dharamshala is to visit the museums and other heritage and historic sites, as this would give a better understanding of the place. Museums, especially open windows to the past and foster learnings about a place that are not found in any book.
Visit The War Memorial In Dharamshala
The War Memorial in Dharamshala is a place you must visit to pay your tribute to our country’s war heroes. The Dharmshala War Memorial was built in 1972 as a tribute to the Himachal War Heroes who laid down their lives defending the country. The names of the martyrs are etched in gold on three curved walls that are part of the main memorial monument.
The three curved walls represent the three wings of the armed forces. The names of the martyrs are engraved on five of the faces of the walls while a mural can be seen on the sixth face. Beautiful fountains and landscaped gardens provide a sense of calm to the place. The State War Memorial is in Dharmshala town, located about 6 kilometres from the Dalai Lama temple.
Visit The Tibet Museum
The Tibet Museum is an effort to preserve the Tibetan Culture and history and educate the world about it. The Tibet Museum consists of permanent and temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibition is titled, “I am Tibetan and this is my story.” It showcases the real story of Tibet and Tibetans as opposed to the versions propagated by China. The exhibits showcase various aspects of Tibetan history and culture.
Visit The Norbulingka Institute
The Norbulingka Insitute is a place that lovers of art and crafts are sure to be impressed with. It is a place that was established to preserve and nurture the traditional arts and crafts of Tibet. It offers employment to around 300 Tibetans and also ensures that the ancient arts and crafts of Tibet live on in Dharamshala.
Visitors can appreciate Tibetan art and craft in the Norbulingka Institute and also shop for them here. If you are keen on learning the arts and crafts, workshops are also offered. Guided tours of the institute are available for visitors. The Norbulingka Institute is about 10 kilometres from the Dalai Lama temple, on the Palampur-Dharamshala road.
Visit Kangra Fort
The Kangra Fort is a historic fort that is believed to be the oldest fort in India dating to the 4th Century BCE. It is believed to have been built by a king of the Katoch Dynasty. The Katoch Dynasty finds a mention in the Mahabharata, in the Chakravyuha incident in which Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna is killed by the Kauravas.
The Katoch King Susharma Chandra, who was fighting alongside the Kauravas was tasked with distracting Krishna and Arjuna, while Abhimanyu was trapped in the Chakravyuha. The Katoch king ruled over the land known as Trigarta and Kangra is believed to have been a part of this kingdom that is mentioned in the Mahabharata. The ruins of Kangra Fort hold many a story from the lost chapters of history and mythology. The Kangra Fort is located about 20 kilometres from Dharamshala.
Other Experiences Not To Miss – Things To Do In Dharamsala
If you are in Dharamshala or McLeodganj, you must include these activities in your itinerary and a list of things to do in Dharmshala.
Visit HPCA Stadium
A visit to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium is a must, especially for cricket lovers. Never mind if there is no match, you can still visit the stadium. Visitors are allowed into one of the stands in the stadium and can spend time looking at the beautiful cricket ground.
The green grounds set against the backdrop of snow-clad mountains of the Dhauladhar range kissed by floating clouds are indeed a wonderful sight to behold. There is a ticketed entry into the HPCA stadium.
Take A Cable Car Ride
The Dharamshala Skyway is a ropeway that connects Dharamshala and McLeodganj across 1.8 kilometres in length. The journey can be done by cable car in less than 10 minutes.
The cable car ride is a thrilling experience, as one can feast on panoramic views of the mountain ranges and dramatic landscapes below.
Shop At Kotwali Bazar
There are ample opportunities for shopping in Dharamshala from modern malls to the quaint little shops that line McLeodganj and Dharamshala. Kotwali Bazar is the main shopping area in Dharamshala. The Bazar is essentially for the locals to shop for their daily necessities, but makes for an interesting stroll.
Shop At Bhagsu Market
The street that leads to the Bhagsunag temple is a colourful lane with shops selling souvenirs and other articles on either side of the street.
Visit The Cafes of McLeodganj
Your visit to McLeodganj and Dharamshala cannot be complete without chilling out in one or more of its famed cafes. The Cafes at McLeodganj and Dharamshala are colourful and have beautiful locations and are quirky places to hang out.
Some of the top cafes in Dharamshala are Illiterati, Yellow Llama, Himalayan Musafir, Woeser Bakery, Moonpeak, and Carpe Diem, among others.
Things To Do In Dharamshala – Treks In And Around Dharamshala
Himachal Pradesh is one of the favourite haunts of trekkers. Its hilly and forested terrain lures trekkers in search of nature and adventure. Places like Manali, Kasauli, Bir, Shimla, and Dharamshala, are the places to embark on the most beautiful and fulfilling treks in the country. Dharamshala is the starting point for many of the treks that showcase the beauty of the Dhauladhar ranges.
The Triund trek is the crown of the Dhauladhar treks. It is the most famous and sought-after trek from Dharamshala. It is a scenic trek and is about 6.8 kilometres from Dharamshala. The trek is an easy one except for the last kilometre which has many twists and turns.
The Kangra trek brings alive the beauty of the Kangra valley in all its splendour. The total distance covered is 27 kilometres. The trek provides an experience of both trekking and camping in the beautiful locales of the Kangra valley.
Indrahar Pass Trek
Indrahar Pass Trek is a trek that is about 10.7 kilometres long and takes the trekkers through dramatic landscapes amidst the mountainous regions. The views on the trek include meandering rivers, streams, and panoramic views of the valleys.
Trek To Kareri Lake
Trek To Kareri Lake is a 10-kilometre-long trek that takes the trekkers to the beautiful surroundings of the Kareri lake. The enchanting lake and the presence of the Pir Panjal mountain ranges in the backdrop make for a beautiful camping experience.
How To Get To Dharamshala | Mcleodganj
Dharamshala is the headquarters of the Kangra District in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India.
- Delhi To Dharamshala distance is about 468 kilometres
- Amritsar To Dharamshala distance is about 201 kilometres
- Chandigarh To Dharamshala distance is about 237 kilometres
- Pathankot To Dharamshala distance is about 85 kilometres
- Dalhousie To Dharamshala distance is about 117 kilometres
- Dharamshala To Mcleodganj distance is about 6 kilometres
The nearest airport to Dharamshala is Kangra Airport in Gaggal, at a distance of about 13 kilometres. It is a regional airport and has flights to and from Chandigarh, Hisar, and Delhi. The alternate airport is Pathankot at a distance of about 90 kilometres.
The closest broad gauge railway head to Dharamshala is Pathankot. There is a narrow-gauge railway from Pathankot to Jogindernagar. Kangra Mandir is a railway station on this line which is at a distance of 32 kilometres from Dharamshala.
Dharamshala and McLeodganj are well connected by road to other towns and cities of Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Roadways buses to Mcleodganj are available from Delhi and other places.
If you are planning a visit to Dharamshala/Mcleoganj, you can book your flight tickets right here through, TripAdvisor or Agoda or CheapAir or Cleartrip or Makemytrip or Priceline and fly to Pathankot or Amritsar. If you are thinking of a road trip, do check out the rental car and bus options.
Best Season To Visit Dharamshala | Mcleodganj
Dharamshala can be experienced in its different forms during different seasons. Dharamshala weather is cool and pleasant during the summers and makes for a cool getaway from the plains between March and June. Temperatures during this time range between 20-35°C.
If you want to experience the romance of the rains in Dharamshala then head out there between July to September, when the temperatures range between 18-22°C.
If you love the winter vibes, then the best season to visit Dharamshala is from December to February when the temperature ranges between 4-7°C. Suffice to say that the beauty of Dharamshala is enchanting throughout the year.
Mcleodganj Dharamshala Itinerary – Where To Stay In Dharamshala | Best Hotels In Dharamshala / Mcleodganj
There is no dearth of hotels to stay in Dharamshala and McLeodganj. There are luxury hotels and resorts, budget hotels, as well as hostels. We stayed at the Spring Valley Resort, which is located very near the Bhagsunag temple. You can book the Spring Valley Resort or any other hotel right here.
Click to book Spring Valley Resort, one of the best places to stay in Mcleodganj.
You can book Hotels in Mcleodganj, Hotels in Bir, Hotels in Dharamshala, Hotels in Palampur or any destination right here through any of the options below: TripAdvisor or Cleartrip or Agoda or Makemytrip or Priceline and save a lot by getting the best deals on booking your stay.
Travel Around Himachal Pradesh, India
There is so much to see and experience in Himachal Pradesh. If you prefer package tours and looking for these, you can plan your Himachal Pradesh itinerary and book your Himachal Pradesh trips, right here. So go ahead and book online places to see in Himachal Pradesh and popular activities in Himachal Pradesh and cover attractions in Himachal Pradesh.
McLeodgang Images | Dharamshala Images
We hope you liked reading our blog post about the best things to do in Dharamshala. We are sure that the information provided here will help you in charting out your own Dharamshala itinerary.
We leave you with some lovely images of Dharamshala and McLeodganj that are sure to make you pack your bags!
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