Looking for places to visit in Dharamshala? You would be surprised at what the little Himalayan town has to offer on your trip to Mcleodganj and Dharamshala.
Did you know? You can do a combined Dharamshala and Mcleodganj trip easily within 3 to 4 days. The cafe culture and the hippie vibes of McLeod Ganj & Dharamshala attract the backpackers and youngsters looking for a quick getaway from Delhi or Chandigarh to the hills of Himachal (hence the crowd!).
Check out this Dharamshala and Mcleodganj travel blog to know about the places to visit in Dharamshala and Mcleodganj.
Top Places to Visit in Dharamshala and McLeodganj
Where is Dharamshala?
Dharamshala or Dharamsala is a city located in Kangra district in Himachal. From being predominantly an abode for Tibetian Buddhists and a place to spend the summer, Dharamshala has now grown popular among the backpackers & hippies.
Where is Mcleodganj?
Mcleodganj is about 5km from Dharamshala and is popular also as Upper Dharamshala.
There are many places to visit in Dharamshala and Mcleodgan, both touristic places as well as those where you could enjoy total bliss.
Most of the people would direct you to upper Dharamshala or McLeod Ganj as it is better known. But your Dharamshala sightseeing definitely should include the highest cricket stadium in India if you are a cricket fan though!
Read below to find out more
1. Visit the abode of the Dalai Lama at Tsuglagkhang
One of the top places to visit in Dharamshala is the Tsuglagkhang temple complex. It is a sacred site for the Tibetan community and is popularly called the Dalai Lama temple. You can’t travel to Dharamshala and not visit this stunning place.
The areas around Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj are known as the little Lhasa of India for its Tibetan communities that have been inhabiting for a very long time, headed by the spiritual guru the Dalai Lama. So obviously, visiting the Tsuglakhang temple and hoping to meet the spiritual leader is high on everyone’s list and is also one of the top places to visit in McLeod Ganj.
There are regular workshops and occasional speech events where the travelers get a chance to interact with the Dalai Lama.
The Tsuglagkhang complex itself is lovely, and you can spend some time observing prayers and getting to know a bit about the lives of the monks.
Check the official website of the Dalai Lama here for the calendar of events in the monastery.
There was a traditional ritual on the day I visited, and I saw the monks performing well practised slow steps to the tune of the trumpets. The vibrant attire and the huge masks of the monks looked well to blend with the loud chants of prayers.
Tsuglakhang Temple timings: 6 AM to 6 PM ; Free entry
2. Explore Namgyal Monastery
Namgyal Monastery is one of the most recommended places to visit in Dharamshala. Namgyal, a vast monastery, is a prominent place for monks all over the world. The Dalai Lama resides here whenever he is in the town.
The monastery has meditation halls, temple complex surrounded by prayer wheels and offers beautiful views of the town from the top.
Spend time exploring the monastery, which also has a cafe.
Namgyal monastery timings: 6 AM to 7 PM; No entry fee
3. Learn about Tibetan culture at the Tibetan Art Museum
Within the Dalai Lama temple complex is one of the must-visit attractions in Dharamshala. The Tibetan Art Museum is one of the places where you can get a glimpse of Tibetan Buddhism. It has an exclusive collection of artefacts which are worth checking out for sure.
Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM; Free entry
You can get some fresh air and the views of the valley if you walk ahead of the temple to Bhagsu Waterfalls.
Editor’s note: 15 Amazing Things to do in Bir, Himachal
4. Visit Bhagsu Temple
Bhagsu temple is one of the popular tourist attractions in Dharamshala, especially among the locals. It gets crowded during the weekends and holidays.
There is a large pool outside the complex and seating area to relax and enjoy the views of the valleys.
5. Take a short hike to Bhagsu Waterfalls
If you walk a little further away from Bhagsu temples, you will come across Bhagsu waterfalls, which is one of the top places to visit in Dharamshala and Mcleodganj.
Honestly, the waterfalls themselves is not so great, but the trek to the place is worth some views.
There is a small trek to be done to get to the foot of the waterfall but luckily you can see the view of the falls halfway to the top, so you can either stop there or go further.
6. Take a Walking along the Dal Lake
Dal Lake, named after the gorgeous lake with the same name in Kashmir, is one of the recommended places to visit in Dharamshala.
If you are wondering what to do in Dharamshala especially in the evening, go take a walk along the lake. There is no entrance fee, and there are plenty of spots to relax and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.
How to reach – You can take a cab if you insist on visiting for 250 INR (which is expensive!). A better way is to take that long walk in the mountains and stroll beside the lake.
7. Pay a visit to Aghanjar Mahadev Temple
Visiting Aghanjar Mahadev temple is one of the popular things to do in Dharamshala, because of its excellent location atop a hill flanked by forests.
This ancient temple is at least over 500 years old, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a famous religious place among the locals of the neighbouring villages. Go there around sunset to experience the pleasant weather and awesome views of the sunset overlooking the valley.
Timings: 5 AM to 8 PM; Free entry
8. Explore the Church in the Wilderness
St. John’s Church, popular as the church in the wilderness is one of the awesome places to visit in Dharamshala. If you are a creative soul looking for some quiet inspiration amidst woods, head here because its secluded location is just perfect. It’s on the way from Mcleodganj to Dharamshala and you can either walk or drive.
9. Check out the Library Of Tibetan Works And Archives
The Library Of Tibetan Works And Archives is one of the best places to visit in Dharamshala to understand and appreciate more about the Tibetan culture.
This tradition-style building has an extensive collection of ancient Buddhist scripts, details of the monks, paintings, and books all giving us insights into their culture and religion.
Among over 70,000 collections, the special artefacts include the traditional Tibetan Thangkas or paintings, rare photographs, and hundreds of statues of the Buddha. The library is located between Mcleodganj and Dharamshala so you can make a stop if you are traveling by taxi.
Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM.
10. Meditate at Nechung Monastery
Close to the Library of Tibetan arts is Nechung Monastery, which is one of the best places to visit in Dharamshala if you are looking for a serene place.
This 18th-century monastery is the seat of the State Oracle of Tibet, and is popularly called the Demon Fortress of the Oracle King.
Visit this lovely monastery to admire its excellent location. You can meditate and also watch the lives of the monks.
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM; Free entry
11. Get to know about ancient Tibetan arts at Norbulingka Institute
If you are eager to know more about the Tibetan culture or want to get a glimpse of another colourful, traditional complex, head to Norbulingka Institute. It is one of the offbeat places to visit in Dharamshala, founded by the Dalai Lama.
The institute is worth a visit for its beautiful setting consisting of ponds, gardens, library and temple. The organisation is home to the Academy of Tibetan Culture, Literary and Cultural Research Centre and the Centre of the Arts.
You can easily spend an hour or so in the institute as there are plenty of things to keep you occupied. The best part is that there is no entry fee.
12. Visit the sacred Kalachakra temple
Kalachakra temple or the wheel of time is one of the most visited places in Dharamshala. It is located next to Tsuglagkhang and houses unique Buddhist paintings, the centre of which is Kalachakra.
13. Shop, Dine Or Idle Away at the Popular Cafes
The laziest way to idle away in McLeod Ganj is to head to the cosy cafes and watch the world go by or do nothing. There are some good cafes for coffee, books and more in McLeod Ganj, which also have rooftop dining opening to the views of the valley.
Plus if you either wondering what to buy in Dharamshala, there are plenty of things. If you are a shopaholic, you can stop at a lot of places for quick buys.
There is no dearth of hawkers and vendors on Mall road in McLeod Ganj. This Tibetan colony is home to pretty woollen wear, antique Buddhist souvenirs and more. If you are interested in various lovely statues of the Buddha, then head to Kotwali Bazaar, where you can also get shawls. Try
So shopping in Dharamshala or McLeod Ganj is fun for sure, but don’t forget to haggle a little as the shop owners usually quote very high prices.
14. Head to Gyuto Tantric Monastery Temple
If you are interested in learning about Tantric Buddhism and the philosophy, one of the recommended places to visit in Dharamshala is Gyuto Tantric Monastery, which is also known for its amazing location.
Snow-capped mountain peaks of the Himalayas form the backdrop of this peaceful monastery, where hundreds of monks practice Tantric Buddhism.
You can meditate, read and enjoy quiet walks in the lovely garden absorbing the views of the mountains. Gyuto monastery is one of the places to getaway from popular Dharamshala attractions for a serene retreat.
Timings: 6 AM to 8 PM; Free entry
More Places to Visit in Dharamshala and Mcleodganj
If you are looking for more awesome things to do in Dharamshala and around, check out the places below.
They are further away from Dharamshala, but you can definitely include them in your Mcleodganj and Dharamshala trip as excursions or mini-day trips.
15. Pay tribute to martyrs at the War Memorial
Close to the town of Dharamshala is a beautiful memorial dedicated to the brave Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the war against neighbours.
It is one of the worth places to visit in Dharamshala to pay your respects to these martyrs.
16. Marvel the architecture at Masroor Rock Cut Temple
Not many people are aware that there exists an amazing rock temple very close to Mcleodganj. It is one of the most awesome places to visit in Dharamshala, so here’s why I’d recommend you to visit Masroor.
An ancient temple dedicated to Rama and another dedicated to Lord Shiva exists amidst beautiful scenery on top of a hill.
On a clear day, you can see stunning, panoramic views of Dhauladhar mountain range. There is a pond in front of the temple complex, and it is a serene place to enjoy a few hours on your Dharamshala solo trip.
You can take a shared taxi from Dharamshala to Masroor rock cut temple.
17. Feel the bliss at Dharamkot, hippie’s paradise
If you find McLeod Ganj to be too mainstream and touristy, well, you have a village to escape. Located about 2.5 km from McLeod Ganj, Dharamkot, mostly well known for its hippie culture and the lazy cafes is quickly catching up as an alternative.
You can stay in the village for a few days, experience the serene life amidst the mountains. You can enrolling in Yoga and meditation classes or learn about Tibetan Buddhism.
Whatever your idea of spending time in Dharamkot is, please plan a trip because it is one of the best places to visit in Dharamshala.
The cabs charge 300 INR for a return journey from McCleod Ganj. There are a few homestays/guest houses as well if you wish to stay there.
Editor’s note: Raj Gundha Trek – A lovely trek guide to the Wilderness
18. Enjoy the village life at Naddi
Naddi is another village ahead of Dal Lake and is perfect for a walk in the evening for a pleasant sunset. Combine it with the walk to the lake or drive in the evening to get away from the bustling McLeod Ganj.
19. Check out the highest cricket stadium in the world
Of all the things, going to the cricket stadium in Dharamshala was the most exciting part of my trip to McCleod Ganj.
The HPCA stadium opened in 2013 is the prettiest cricket stadium in India, surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of Dhauldhar mountains that create a majestic backdrop up close.
The cheapest way to reach the stadium is to take the public bus from Dharamshala bus stand.
20. Explore the oldest fort in the Himalayas
If you want to venture towards offbeat places to visit in Dharamshala, I suggest visiting old Kangra enriched with history and nature.
The old town is known for the Kangra Fort, the oldest fort in the Himalayas with a history of thousands of years, and the view of the Himalayas from the top is stunning.
Reach Kangra from Dharamshala via a bus. From there, local buses go to the fort at regular intervals. You can also take a cab or a rickshaw if you intend to travel more conveniently.
21. Enjoy the views of tea gardens and the village life in Kangra valley
Kangra Valley comprises many villages surrounded by gorgeous mountains. You can go hiking, spend a lot of time in the valleys, and enjoy the view of tea gardens which are found in abundance in Palampur.
You can also explore Bir, which is very popular for paragliding.
At higher altitudes, further away in the Himalayan region of Dharamshala are many places if you want to enjoy camping, hiking and a walk, here are the some of the best places to visit in Dharamshala.
Note that the altitude of these places are high, which means you might face AMS or mountain sickness. So if you have pre-existing health conditions like hypertension or cardiovascular diseases, please consult your doctor before planning a trip to these places.
22. Explore the stunningly beautiful Kareri Lake
Kareri Lake is a beautiful glacial lake located at higher Himalayas close to Mcleodganj. It is one of the most adventurous places to visit in Dharamshala. It is about 9 km from the city centre is located in a village called Kareri.
It is only possible to reach the lake located at about 3000 meters high through a hike as there are no roads. Be sure to be rewarded by magnificent views of the Himalayas from the lake.
23. Trek to Triund to watch Dhauladhar mountains from the top
Triund is one of the most popular short treks in the Himalayas, and this snow trek is perfect for beginners to enjoy the majestic views of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, with mountains studded with pine trees & the valley of Kangra that stretches to the farthest horizon.
But I met a lot of travelers who told that the trail is pretty clear and can be added as a DIY trek. You can either start early and come back the same day or camp at the summit.
Editor’s note – How to plan the Valley of Flowers Solo Trip under 2500 INR!
24. Explore Lahesh Caves
Another place for some adventurous trek in Dharamshala is Lahesh Caves. Located at around 3500 meters, hiking to Lahesh Caves is not an easy trip for sure, but be assured that you will encounter stunning views of the mountains with rivers and streams running between them.
It is about 12km from Mcleodganj and starts from Dharamkot. Many people combine it with Triund, and make a total trip for about 3 to 4 days. You can do the trek by yourself or book a hiking tour, which lasts for about 2 days.
25. Enjoy the beauty of Indrahar Pass
Now let me answer some FAQs that might help you in planning your Dharamshala trip.
PLACES TO VISIT IN DHARAMSHALA – KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) – PLACES TO VISIT IN DHARAMSHALA
1. Where to stay in Dharamshala?
Which is better Dharamshala or Mcleodganj? Obviously, McLeod Ganj has better options compared to Dharamshala. There are plenty of hotels in Mcleodganj in all price ranges.
It is also possible to find hotels in Dharamshala as well, but many attractions are close to Mcleodganj, and hence it is preferred.
Most of the travelers choose between McLeodganj or Dharamkot or the hotels en route to McLeod Ganj from Dharamshala.
Recommended Places to Stay in McLeod Ganj & Dharamshala
These are my top picks for stay at McLeod Ganj in different budget ranges. I have also included a few recommendations in Dharamshala as well, for you to have more options.
Budget Stays in Mcleodganj – Below are some of the best hostels and budget stays in the town.
Midrange stays and homestays in Dharamshala & Mcleodganj
|Alt Life – Dharamkot (Mcleodganj)
|Check here for prices and reviews.
|Hotel Norbu House (McLeod Ganj)
|Click for latest prices to book
|Zostel Mcleod (Dharamkot)
|Check details here
|Ratings & prices
|Journey Of Life
|Click here to check out more
If you don’t mind spending a bit, wanting to enjoy luxury, I’d recommend these lovely places.
|Fortune Park Moksha
|Check reviews and latest prices here
|The Divine Hima
|Check here for reviews and booking
|Click for details
2. How to reach Dharamshala?
You can travel to Dharamshala in many ways. The mode of transport to get to Dharamshala depends on your city of departure, your trip time and budget.
By Air: The nearest airport to Dharamshala is Gaggal airport in Kangra, located about 15 km. There are regular flights from Delhi every day.
By Road: The distance between Delhi and Dharamshala is over 475 km. There are frequent buses from Delhi to Dharamshala, and it takes about 8 to 9 hours. Apart from Delhi, major cities of Himachal are well connected to Dharamshala by road with regular buses.
Some people also plan from Dharamshala to Dalhousie or return from Dalhousie to Dharamshala to continue their Himachal trip. If that is the case, note that there are limited buses to Dalhousie from Dharamshala and return as well. There is one public bus that leaves at 7 AM in the morning and reaches Dalhousie at 11:30 AM. Depending on the season, the buses run.
You can check the status of the buses and also book online here on HRTC
By Train: The nearest railway station to Dharamshala is Pathankot, which is about 85 km. You can then take a cab or a bus to Dharamshala.
Ensure you carry the tents and the sleeping bags for camping though, as you don’t get them at the top.
How to get from Mcleodganj to Dharamshala?
Dharamshala to McLeodganj distance is about 5 km and you can travel from Dharamshala to McLeod Ganj in 20 minutes. Shared taxis, jeeps and public buses ply every 5 mins and hence commuting between Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj is not only a breeze but quite cheap too.
3. What is the Best Time to Visit Dharamshala?
If you are wondering when to visit Dharamshala, well, the best time to visit Dharamshala is after the monsoons, from September until the onset of monsoons in June. The best time to visit Mcledoganj is also pretty much the same.
Winter can be a bit harsh but can be managed, but avoid heading there during the rains. Also, Dharamshala weather is the best during the summer. Hence you’ll find many travelers from cities like Delhi, Chandigarh and Jaipur heading to McLeod Ganj & Dharamshala to cool off!
4. How many days would I need for Dharamshala trip?
The number of days for places to visit in Dharamshala depends on many things. You can combine a few trips together to nearby places as mentioned above or add hiking to your itinerary, and in these cases, you may need around 7 to 8 days.
You can even plan a weekend trip to Dharamshala and Mcleodganj, where you can explore all the major attractions although it might become a packed trip.
Ideally, I’d suggest you to keep around 4 to 6 days at least to make the most of your time to explore a combination of attractions.
5. Want help with Itinerary for Dharamshala and Mcleodganj?
Your Dharamshala and Mcleodganj itinerary varies depends on the number of days. If you have just 2 days or a weekend, start from Mcleodganj to explore the Dalai Lama temple, Bhagsu temple and falls, Dal lake, St.John’s church and other temples on your first day. Keep your second day to explore Dharamshala and around, heading to the cricket stadium, monasteries and other attractions.
You can add Kangra Valley and its attractions including Kangra Fort or Bir to your Dharamshala Mcleodganj itinerary if you have more than 3 days.
You can also make your Mcleodganj trip itinerary adventurous by adding hikes to Triund of Lahesh caves, which would need another 3 to 4 days more with an extra day to spare.
So this is it about the places to visit in Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj! Have you been to McLeod Ganj & Dharamshala? How did you find them? Have I missed anything that you feel I need to add?
Let me know in the comments below!
PIN PLACES TO VISIT IN DHARAMSHALA TO READ LATER
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