DHARAMSHALA – MCLEODGANJ – A HOME OF HIS HIGHNESS DALAI LAMA
This is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 17 Km north- east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snowline is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamsala than at any other hill resort and it is possible to make a day’s trek to a snow-point after an early morning’s start. Dharamsala is also the headquarters of the Kangra district.
In 1905, tragedy struck Dharamsala when an earthquake leveled it completely. After its reconstruction, Dharamsala flourished as a quiet health resort. It is divided into two distinct parts. Lower Dharamsala has civil offices and business establishments with courts. Kotwali bazar and Upper Dharamsala comprise of places with names which bear witness to its history like McLeod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj. Since 1960, when it became a temporary headquarter of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala has risen to international fame as “The Little Lhasa in India”. McLeodganj is 9 Km from Dharamsala.
In and around Dharamsala, one can visit the Kangra Art museum at Kotwali bazar, War memorial, Kunal Pathri temple and tea gardens on way to Kunal Pathri. There is also a beautiful Cricket stadium in the city facing mighty Dhauladhar.
Height: Between 1250 m to 1550 m
Area: 5739 sq. Km.
Population: 13.39 lakh
Languages: Hindi, Punjabi, English and Pahari are understood and spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade
Temperature: Max. 38 C in June; Min. 00 C in Jan.
Annual rainfall: Varies between 290 cm to 380 cm second highest rainfall in the country.
Best season: January to June; September to December. July-August is rainy season.
Clothing : Heavy woolens in winters and light woolens and tropical in summers
What To See And Do
Baijnath Shiv Temple: This particularly beautiful ancient Shiv temple at Baijnath is 16 Km from Palampur, on the Pathankot-Mandi national highway. Built of stone in the 9th century AD in the shikhara style, it is a fine blend of sculpture and architecture. The temple is easily accessible from both Palampur and Kangra. The linga enshrined in its sanctum is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country. Every year during the Shivratri fair, pilgrims decend on Baijnath for the colourful fair and festivities.
Kareri: A 12 Km trek from Mcleodganj passing through Dal lake, Satobari and Ghera leads to Kareri village. It overlooks the flat & fertile lands of Himachal and Punjab, seems to stretch on to infinity. Kareri village has a picturesque forst rest house. 13 Km further is the Kareri lake (3200 mtr) having beautiful high altitute meadows, extensive pasture lands and undulating slopes carpeted with patch work of green floral patterns.
St. John’s Church: This Church stands on the Gandhi Chowk approximately 2 Km. from the main bus stand of Dalhousie. This Church was the first to be built after the town of Dalhousie was founded. Prior to 1863 a wooden structure stood at this place.
Nurpur: Nurpur is famous for an old fort and a temple of Brij Raj. Nurpur acquired its name in 1672, when Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor named it after his wife Nurjahan. Built in the late 16th century by Raja Basu the Nurpur Fort is massive and sprawling. It spreads across a long flat plateau forming the western end of the ridge and bears signs of great architectural designs. The fort overlooks the Jabhar Khud, a tributary of the Chakki rivulet and the vast valley formed by it.
Kotla Fort: Kotla Fort is another heritage monument on the State Highway between Shahpur and Nurpur. Kotla fort stands on an isolated peak, impressively looking around the deep valleys. The fort was built by the Guler Rajas. The road to the fort winds upwards and is not too difficult; the climb going through the dense forest of pine is pleasant. At the main entrance is the Bagulamukhi temple, one of the incarnations of Durga.
Kunal Pathri: A level 3Km walk from Kotwali Bazar leads upto the rock temple of the local goddess Durga. In the temple there is stone which remains always wet. According to local belief, the moment it starts drying, it.
WHAT TO DO:
1. Enjoy trekking at Kareri.
2. Watch beautiful paintings of Ancient Indian mythology Characters at Nurpur.
3. Explore a glorious past at Kotla Fort.
4. Go sight-seeing at Kunal Pathri.
5. Discover your spiritual side at St. John’s Church.
6. Be a part of prayer and religious festivals Baijnath Shiv Temple.
7. Go on a shopping spree at the Kotwali Bazar for general shopping and McLeod Ganj for Tibetan handicrafts.
Where To Stay
HPTDC hotels, private hotels and guesthouses, PWD and Forest Rest Houses, are there in and around Dharamsala. Details are available from local tourist offices
How To Get Around
By Road – Direct and regular bus service from Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu , Shimla , Chamba and Manali
By Rail – Pathankot is the nearest broad gauge railway terminal to Dharamsala. From Pathankot there is a narrow gauge railway line up to Kangra (94 Km) and from here Dharamshala is 17 Km by road.
By Air – Nearest airport is Gaggal.