Dharmsala and Mcleodganj
Dharmsala and Mcleodganj
Height : From 1300 m to 1770 m
Under British lndia, the district of Kangra was one of the largest in the country and soon after the end of the Anglo-Sikh Wars, in 1852, Dharamsala became its headquarters. Kangra is considerably smaller now, but is still packed with immense natural beauty, several travel destinations, places of pilgrimage and a variety of adventure activities (especially trekking and water sports); the district still has its headquarters in Dharamsala. Higher along the same set of hills is McLeodganj which remains in the international limelight as the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The atmosphere is cosmopolitan and a visitor is likely to encounter a dozen
different nationalities within a short walk in the bazaar. The variety of cuisine on offer is substantial and ranges from traditional Himachali food to Italian to kosher Jewish. Just under the heights of the Dhauladhar mountains, Upper Dharamsala is close to the snowline which begins at lllaqua (3,200m) while the lower part of town ﬂows into the warm low rolling valleys of Kangra.
- By Road : Dharamsala is 514 km from Delhi, 235 km from Chandigarh, 252 km from Shimla and 85 km from Pathankot.
- By Rail : Pathankot is the closest railhead for Dharamsala 85 km away. The narrow gauge heritage rail track from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar passes through the middle of Kangra valley and nearest train station is at Kangra 18 km away.
- By Air : The Kangra airport at Gaggal is 12 km from Dharamsala.
Lower Dharamsala is warm in summer and cottons are adequate during the day; in upper Dharamsala, light woollens may be required. In winter, heavy clothing is necessary. During the monsoon months, Dharamsala is one of the wettest places
in the country.
- War Memorial: Located in Lower Dharamsala this solemn monument commemorates the war heroes of Himachal Pradesh. Their names are inscribed on three large slabs of black marble. This is set in a serene grove of pine trees and is criss-crossed by meandering paths.At different points of year, homage is given to these brave men who gave their lives for the country. As many of these martyrs belonged to the area, the Memorial is often visited by their families. .
- The Kangra Art Gallery: This is located just above the Kotwali bazaar that passes through Dharamsala. The Gallery has artefacts that date back to the fifth century. The displays include the area’s famous miniature paintings. The gallery also houses sculptures, pottery, anthropological artefacts, coins, jewellery and manuscripts. ‘Shaminas’, canopies, and dresses used
by local royalty, old carved doors, intricately carved ‘jalis’ that once served as windows or railings, lintels and ‘pandals’ are also on display.
- The Namgyal Monastery: This is named after the original Namgyal monastery in Lhasa, Tibet and is where novice monks are trained under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The monastery has nearly two
hundred monks and the younger ones study the major texts of the Buddhist Sutras and Tantras. The Tsuglakhang is the main hall where prayers are
conducted. This is encircled by prayer wheels. Within are large images of Shakyamuni Buddha, Avalokiteshwara and Padmasambhava. Just off this, is
the Kalachakra Temple whose architecture and murals serve as a representation of Tibet’s rich spiritual and artistic tradition. The residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also located here.
- TIPA, McLeodganj: ln 1959, within a few months of arriving in India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama established the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts
(TIPA). To prevent ancient traditions and skills from vanishing and also to strengthen them, TIPA preserves and develops the skills of traditional Tibetan performing arts like dance, music and opera. Performances are also
held at McLeodganj and other places.
- TLWA, McLeodganj: Created in 1970, the Tibetan Library of Works and Archives (TLWA) is one the most important Tibetan libraries in the world. The core of the collection is formed by the books and manuscripts that
were carried to India during the Tibetan exodus of 1959. The Library, the Gangchen Kyishong (commonly called ‘the Gangkyi’), has around eighty thousand books, manuscripts, photographs and numerous papers and
documents. Opposite the Library is the Men See Khang, the Tibetan Medical and Astrological institute that was founded in 1961.
- Dal Lake (1775m): This lies between McLeodganj and Naddi. The lake is backed by thick woods of majestic deodar trees and there is a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva along its northern bank. Every September,
this is also the site of a major local fair that is attended, among others, by large numbers of the migrant Gaddi people.
- Church of St. John in the Wilderness (1770m): This lies between McLeodganj and Forsythganj on the road to Dharamsala. This small dressed-stone church was built in 1852. The interior walls of the church are also of exposed stone. This has fine stained glass windows and
several memorial tablets. On both sides, the church is flanked by a well tended cemetery over the grassy slopes. The most notable memorial and one which adjoins the church, is the elaborate one that was erected overthe body of the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died at Dharamsala in 1863.
- Bhagsunag (11 km): A climb from McLeodganj past small cafes and shops and then through cedar woods leads to this old temple that is said to have been in existence since the time of the Mahabharata. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and to the local version of the serpent deity, Bhagsu Nag. In its present form, the temple owes much to the Gurkhas who had captured
Kangra in the early nineteenth century and this was rebuilt by them. A mile or so from Bhagsu village, are the Bhasu falls. The waterfall is about twenty metres high.
- Dharamkot: Above McLeodganj, this is an attractive spot that presents a wide view of the Kangra valley and the Dhauladhar ranges. There are a couple of small (and interesting) eateries around. Dharamkot also has the
Vipassana meditation centre, Dhamma Shikara, as well as the Tushita Meditation Centre which is a centre for the study and practice of Buddhism in the Tibetan Mahayana tradition.
- Triund (9 km): Past Dharamkot along a steady climb, Triund is at the foot of the Dhauladhar ranges and is at a height of2,827 m. The snow line, which is considered to be the most easily accessible in the entire Himalayan range starts from llaqua, 4 km from Triund. Chinmaya Tapovan, Sidhbari (10 km): This is an ‘ashram‘ that was established by the late Swami Chinmayananda, a noted exponent of the Gita. The complex includes a 9 m high image of Lord Hanuman, a magnificent Rama temple, a meditation hall, a school,
and a health and recreation centre.
- Norbulinka (12 km): In Tibet, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, Norbulingka was constructed according to the foundation proportions of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, known as Avalokiteshvara. The same
guiding principle underpins both the philosophy and architecture of the Norbulingka Institute located at Sidhbari. The temple at Norbulinka is an impressively tall one and enshrines a gilded copper statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha. It also has a centre for arts and culture and an academy.
- Kangra Fort (28 km): This was the largest fort in lndia north of Delhi. The earliest reference of the fort is in 1009 AD in the chroniclers of the invader, Mahmud of Ghazni. Built on a rocky hill, its ramparts and walls have a circumference of approximately four kilometres. It was heavily damaged in the earthquake of4April 1905, but several gates, the shrines of Ambika Devi, Adinath and Lakshminarayan, and the remains of its palaces are still
there. There is a small museum near the entrance gate that has been established by the Archaeological Survey of lndia.
- THE DHAULADHAR – Deluxe Hotel
Perched along the mighty Dhauladhar ranges, HPTDC‘s
Hotel Dhauladhar offers a commanding view of the mountains
and the Pong Dam reservoir (Maharana Pratap Sagar).
Situated in the heart of town, the Hotel is on Dharamsala’s
main road and is easily accessible from all sides.
ADDRESS : Hotel Dhauladhar, Kotwali Bazar, Dharamsala
(HP)- 176215. Tel. (O1892)224926-27, Fax : 224928,
E-mail : email@example.com
- THE BHAGSU– Deluxe Hotel
Started in October 1978, HPTDC’s Hotel Bhagsu Hotel is
located at Mcleodganj near the residence of His Holiness, the
Dalailama and the Namgyal Monastery. The Hotel is named
after the famous temple of Bhagsunath.
ADDRESS : The Bhagsu, Mcleodganj, Dharamsala, Distt.
- THE KASHMIR HOUSE – Deluxe Heritage Hotel
Built in the 1930s, Kashmir House acquired its name when it
was purchased by the ruler of the former princely state of
Jammu & Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh. Later, this was sold
to the Punjab Government (Kangra was a part of the Punjab
then). Subsequently, it passed into the hands of the HPTDC
ADDRESS : The Kashmir House, Dharamsala, Distt. Kangra
(HP) – 176215. Tel. (O1892)222977