Nov 24, 2014

Dharamshala - an experience, a difference

Dharamshala is a hill station known for Tibetan community, Dalai lama, nice weather, waterfalls, etc.
I dont know about many but some people like me had some other expectations with dharamshala which were not true like snow, lot of waterfalls & scenery, pines, etc.
But what i experienced from Dharamshala and enjoyed was few Tibetan monasteries, Hindu temples, hills & trees, and hill market.

Some things I want to make more clear:

Weather: Its not so cold. I went in month of September & days are hot. May be November to February is cold. Its rains a lot in Dharamshala but it doesn't snow. Unless at mountain peaks.
.
Sceneray: Place is full of mountains & trees. Not much waterfalls and neither rivers. Pines are in small area only around Dal lake. Roads are  not good.

Mcleod Ganj is in upper dharamshala. Its major attraction in Dharamshala and coldest. Its hill station with lot of Tibetan community and a Tibetan monastery, and also home of Dalai lama. Place is full of eating joints, restaurants, and hotels. You can't see Dalai lama.Possibly you can stay in some hotel in Mcleod Ganj and visit other attractions by hiring taxi. I would also inform  you that Dalai lama is shifting base from Mcleod Ganj to some place in Karnataka and so charm of place might be gone.
Mcleod Ganj is in upper Dharamshala. Lower Dharamshala is hotter and less attractive.

Rivers were mostly dry and snow only at mountain peaks. Also hail in rains.

Dharamshala is in state Himanchal Pradesh of India. Also note i heard most of the Tibetan community including Dalai Lama is shifting to Karnataka state which is in south India.



Attractions:

1. Mcleod Ganj - A hill station with Tibetan monastery(Tsuglagkhang Complex): home of Dalai lama. The monastery in itself is not so good and looks like a house. 0.5 km before reaching monastry, taxis are stopped and you will walk through a market full of shops, restaurants, and hotels. But complex is highly secured and has a museum. But forget museum, the unique part is when you go there in afternoon and see huge number of monks and possibly debating. You can do Kora(walk in circle around the holy site) also. And rare of rarest catch Dalai lama in public teaching for which you will have to pre-register(http://www.dalailama.com/).
(Source: http://www.mcleodganj.com/)

Also close to Mcleod Ganj is Dal lake (not to confused with famous Dal lake in Kashmir). Somewhere between Dharamshala main market and Mcleod Ganj is this small lake. Lake is surrounded from one side with pine trees.And temple on other side which makes is it overall a stop over. If you driving to Mcleod Ganj from Dharamshala market or other way, its stop over. I believe, they are trying to beautify lake and will be better in 2015.


2. Norbulingka - Norbulingka(http://www.norbulingka.org/) is a Tibetan monastery and institute, where you can visit temple, museum, shop, and learn. You can join training over arts like wood crafting, wood painting and get certificate also. It also has a nice cafe for eating. Overall its a must visit and you will learn  about Tibetan culture and arts. Very close (approx. 4-5 kms) is also beautiful Gyuto Tantric Monastery (http://www.gyuto.org/).


3. Dharamshala Stadium - HPCA Stadium is cricket stadium. Between mountains, it is one of the most beautiful stadiums located at a very high altitude. Even if there is no cricket match scheduled, but a visit is must. Stadium also have a hotel and restaurants, which can be visited. Indeed, the view of stadium is best from the restaurant inside which is on probably 3rd floor. Lift is accessible from the main entrance of stadium.




Number of Days - Not sure about this, but I will suggest minimum 3 days -
1 day - Mcleod Ganj + including Dal lake
1 day - Norbulingka Monastery + Gyuto Monastery + optionally Aghanjar Mahadev temple (Hindu)
1 day - Stadium

Where to Stay - 
plenty of hotels, but I can suggest you should once - http://www.norbulingkahotels.com/ and check if you can stay in Norbulingka hotels for unique experience.

More - 
You might be interested in more attractions of Dharamshala and nearby areas, especially if you are Hindu. There are lot of temples in and around Dharamshala. Temples especially of Devi's and Mahadev.
Chamunda Devi temple in dharamshala -

I didnt visited much, but Aghanjar Mahadev temple was really nice and picture-some. Small temple between mountain peaks and a waterfall around. And its in lower dharamshala near Norbulingka 

 There are other mahadev temples but i believe 50 km drive from dharamshala.





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