Dharamsala has so much to offer to its guests. Temples, monasteries, churches, mountains, lowlands and high passes are some of the top attractions of the place. The place gets even better as weather starts making a gradual shift from hot summers to monsoon, to fall and to finally winter to offer best holiday experience to visitors. Some of the notable places that always find top place on every traveler’s bucket list are:
Popularly known as the Little Lhasa, McLeod Ganj is of great religious importance to both Hindus and Buddhists. The small hamlet is home of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama, who settled here after being exiled from Tibet. The place is a great example of religious harmony where people of two different religions share a beautiful patch of mountainous land to spread out a strong message of harmony and oneness to every corner of the world.
Local food, monasteries, woolen stuff and beautiful artifacts promoting Buddhism in various forms being sold on stalls lined up on the edges of narrow roads are few notable attractions worth seeing.
St. John’s Church
About 8 km from Dharamsala, and slightly before McLeod Ganj bazaar, St. John Church is charming neo-gothic architecture in the wilderness. Hidden amidst the high flights of deodar tress, the church was built in memory of the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died here in year 1863. There is a beautiful tombstone erected over the body of Lord Elgin in the backyard of the church.
First thing you will notice as you take a brisk walk for about 15 minutes of the town is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Bhagsu Nag, the snake god. The temple is as famous as a beautiful waterfall flowing down the hill bringing with it great taste and minerals of mountain fresh water. Pilgrims take a dip in cold water of the waterfall to purify their body, minds and souls before entering the holy shrine.
The waterfall can be reached after taking long strides for about 15 minutes from the temple. The temple is named after the picturesque Bhagsu village – a small, tribal village of shepherd community nestled under the shadow of Dhauladhars. However, the term ‘tribal’ holds very less significance here as the village is now very well connected to the outer world through a new revolution called internet, and the place is home to decent restaurants, cafeterias and guest houses.
Another small village situated on the outer periphery of McLeod Ganj is Dharamkot – another hippies’ paradise in the making. The village is situated at a 20-minutes’ walk from McLeod Ganj. You can also book a taxi or rickshaw at McLeod Ganj that takes you through a thick forest of tall deodar trees and a narrow jeepable road to the place called Galu Devi. As the name suggests, the place is named after Galu Devi temple that stands on the ridge to arrest advance of the snaky muddy road. To the right is situated Dharamkot village on green slopes of McLeod Ganj, gradually spreading its tentacles in all directions.
However, the place receives visitors from all around the world, but majority of them are from Israel. Every café and restaurant has Israeli food on their menu. Israeli music can be heard as soon as you start walking the narrow pavements through mustard fields leading to the village. Cafeterias walls exhibit Hebrew letters inscribed beautifully on them to signify blooming hippy culture in the land of lams and shepherds. Dharamkot is the place from where trek to the Triund hilltop originates.
As soon as we utter the name Triund, numeric ‘three’ and beautiful images of snow-capped mountains start overtaking our thoughts. Reason why this place is called Triund is mesmerizing view of three snow-capped mountains when you reach the top. All you have to do is take long strides from the base camp of the trek, i.e., Dharamkot, and you will find yourself talking to Dhauladhar Ranges in person. You can feel mountain chills coming from three mountain ranges around you kissing you on your cheeks.
Triund is the crown jewel of Dharamsala situated in the laps of Dhauladhar Mountains. It has the perfect view of the Dhauladhars on one side and Kangra valley on the other. Triund is a very popular trekking spot that attracts a lot of tourists every year from India and all over the world.
Triund is located at a height of about 2,842 m above sea level. It’s about 9 km from McLeod Ganj. The spot is perfect for a wonderful weekend hiking experience. Healthy air coming from rhododendron and oak trees make your hike worthwhile. If you are lucky enough, you will spot the hilltop blanketed in snow with rare Himalayan birds and wild animals intersecting your way uphill. Once you reach the top, you will find yourself standing in front of the mighty Outer Himalayas. Indrahar Pass, located at an altitude of about 4,342 m, is a gateway between Kangra and Chamba.