Dharamshala is widely known as the residence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Many Tibetans have since settled here, giving the once Buddhist and Hindi place a dominant Tibetan flavour with the development of Tibetan monasteries, temples and schools. With the popularity of the Dalai Lama and Dharamshala's cool Himalayan climate, the place has become an important tourist destination.
When people talk about "Dharamshala", they mean lower-Dharamshala or the Kotwali Bazaar market where most commerce take place. McLeod Ganj, also upper-Dharamshala is further up the mountain. The main tourist hub is McLeod Ganj where the Dalai Lama resides.
Surrounded by a forest of cedar trees, it is already on the foothills of the Himalayas with its highest altitude at 2352 MASL.
Dharamshala Blogs by TheLoneRider
Peoplescape of Dharamshala, India(June 14 - July 8, 2018) Like Rishikesh, most of the people I met in Dharamshala came to pursue their spiritual path. The higher up in elevation they settle at (from McLeod Ganj, going up to Dharamcot/Bhagsu, to Upper Dharamcot/Upper Bhagsu), the more filtered they got towards the path. But every once in a while, I'd meet someone interesting in McLeod Ganj as well.....more »»
Peoplescape of Dharamshala: Marleen(June 30, 2018) Getting a good sense and comfort level with each other, Marleen and I agreed to base our friendship on radical honesty. It's not for everyone as it demands a lot of non-reaction, dissolution of ego and 'rising above'....more »»
Peoplescape of Dharamshala: Greg Goldstein(June 26, 2018) Greg has been a reassuring constant since I met him in Rishikesh. A wonderful human being and kindred soul, I am thankful to have met him. I'd like to think we are karmically entangled with paths crossing again in another place and time....more »»
Peoplescape of Dharamshala: Eva(July 1, 2018) Unlike most of the people in Upper Bhagsu who came for spiritual pursuit, Eva came to heal and finish some academic work as well. Yes, she's involved in the academe - dedicated, smart and comes across as all-business and no-nonsense, bordering on aloof...more »»
Visiting the Tibet Museum(June 27, 2018) China's invasion of Tibet and brutal repression of the Tibetans is a matter of public record - thanks largely to the efforts of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in bringing worldwide attention to this tragedy. That's the big picture we see. But visiting the Tibet Museum and learning details of what happened and what continues to happen puts you in ringside seat as events unfold.....more »»
In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher(June 25, 2018) Ever since I saw the video documentary, The Yogis Of Tibet, I have been intrigued and fascinated. The yoga practice seemed different from the Hatha Yoga I had been practising for years. Now in Dharamshala (India), home of the Tibetans-in-exile, I sought them out....more »»
Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India(June 24 - July 8, 2018) I found it odd and interesting for a Filipino like me to go to India and teach yoga to Indian nationals. It felt like teaching an Italian how to cook pasta. But as yoga teacher at Pema Thang Guest House where guests are mostly Indians, that's how it happened....more »»
Life in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala(June 16-23, 2018) My 7 days in Upper Bhagsu was nothing less than magical. The cool mountain climate, the scenic valley view, the eclectic cafe scene, the chill denizens who endured the high climb with their heavy luggage to pursue their spirituality, the affordability of the place, its isolation, the be-in events, etc., all amounted to a sensory bliss quite rare given all my travels.....more »»
Trekking to Naddi from Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala(June 19, 2018) The 3 good things coming out of this activity is the trek itself, the destination and the company I kept - Navraj and Stanley. From Dharamkot, we started trekking a mountain dirt road that took us along winding trails, scenic views and Tibetan prayer flags until we reached Naddi where we chilled out for tea before going our own ways.....more »»
Matters of the Heart(Jun 17, 2018) If I have a weak link in my human chain, it might be the heart. I intellectualize nearly everything. Now, my benevolent universe is telling me along clear lines not to use my head to accomplish the tasks that the heart was meant to do.....more »»
A First Timer in Dharamshala(Jun 14, 2018) Having done my mini-life in Rishikesh, it was time to move on again. Manali? Ladak? Shimla? They were the likely destinations during the monsoon season. However, since I only had 30 days left in my visa for another 30-day mini-life, I had to go to Dharamshala - the residence of his Holiness, the Dalai Lama and seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.....more »»
Dharamshala (city), India
- Pema Thang Guest House & Restaurant - central McLeod Ganj location, quiet area, Kangra Valley view, near Tsuklakhang (main temple) and market
Dharamshala, HP 176057 INDIA
Travel Tips for Dharamshala
- the Dalai Lama's scheduled public teachings in Dharamshala are as follows: September 4-7, 2018 | October 3 - 6, 2018 | February 19, 2019. To register, visit this page: https://www.dalailama.com/office/contact
- in June, the average temperature high is 31° and average low is 21°. It rains usually in the afternoon/evening beginning mid-June
- July and August see the most rainfall, up to 22 inches
- Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) happens 30 October to 2 November in McLeod Ganj
- at the Tibetan Museum in McLeod Ganj, there is a daily 11am and 3pm movie screening of Tibet-related issues at INR 10
- trekking is one of the highlights in Dharamshala - to Dharamkot, Bhagsu, cutting through Dhauladhar to the upper Ravi Valley and Chamba district, or the 8km trek to Triund
- Wednesday is vegetarian day - other days, meat dishes are served by cafes and restaurants
- Bhagsu and Dharamkot are a quiet alternative to McLeod Ganj. They are also cheaper in accommodation when the Dalai Lama is in town and McLeod Ganj hostels are fully booked (with inflated prices)
- If you wish to stay in McLeod Ganj but want quiet, stay along Jogiwara Road where balconies will offer scenic views
- short power outages frequently happen during the day
- for quiet stays and scenic views, stay in Upper Dharamkot or Upper Bhagsu. The "upper" you go, the cheaper the accommodation prices go.
- in Upper Dharamkot is a cluster of cafes and lodging (Salvation Cafe area)where the community is chill
How to get to Dharamshala from Rishikesh by bus
- Bus - Rishikesh to Dharamshala is 449 kms. The usual route is to go to Haridwar and take the State transport buses to Lower Dharamshala, but it's less hassle to get a bus from Rishikesh that go all the way up to McLeod Ganj - a little more money (INR 1150) but worth it specially if you a carry bulky pack. You will leave Rishikesh 4pm and arrive in Dharamshala the following day (you save one night lodging) at 7am.
How to get to New Delhi Airport from McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala by bus
- Bus From McLeod Ganj bus station, take a semi-sleeper a/c overnight bus, INR 1000, 11.5 hours (7pm to 6:30am) straight to Kashmiri Gate Train Station in New Delhi.
- walk to Kashmiri Gate (no need to ride a tuktuk)
- take the Yellow Line towards Huda City but get off at New Delhi Station (INR 16)
- From New Delhi Station, take the Airport Metro Train (INR 60) and get off at the airport
Travel Tips for India
- e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
- US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
- nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
- other travel destinations in India
- always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes
General Travel Tips
- arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
- put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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