India has some of the finest hill stations that are surrounded by mountains and valleys. It attracts tourists from across the globe and the country. If you want to experience one of the best hill stations in India, you need to put Dharamshala in your travel wish list. Dharamshala is the home of Dalai Lama and is a famous tourist destination in North India. Dalai Lama is a Tibetan spiritual leader whose abode is about 3 km from Dharamshala, in McLeodGanj. It is easy to reach Dharamshala, and there are a number of things you can do here. Dharamshala is a destination which offers natural beauty with several adventure opportunities. Dharamshala has postcard-perfect views and is the ideal place for you to get away from the hustle and bustle of your routine life. The best time to travel to Dharamshala is during the months of summer when the weather is pleasant. There are many beautiful places for sightseeing in Dharamshala which also have historical importance.
The natural beauty and picturesque surroundings of Dharamshala, as well as the presence of Buddhism, has made it one of the best and most visited hill stations in the country. Dharamshala tourism is at a peak during summer months because of the temperature being pleasant during this season. Dharamshala is divided into two parts, one is the upper Dharamshala, and the other is lower Dharamshala. Both the parts are known for the scenic landscapes and monasteries. It is surrounded by the mighty Dhualadhar mountains and gives the best views of the snow-capped peaks. Dharamshala also throws light on the glory of Tibetan culture which can be seen in the monasteries present here. McLeodganj lies in the same vicinity as Dharamshala, and your vacation will remain incomplete if you do not visit it. It is a beautiful hill station which also offers excellent views of the Dhauladhar range. It is known for the glorious Buddhist culture and is nothing less than a paradise. You will be able to enjoy natural beauty, adventure and peace at Dharamshala. Many tourists visit this destination time and again because one can never really have enough of it. Dharamshala is one place where you leave everything behind and just marvel at the majestic nature and its beauty. There is a lot when it comes to sightseeing in Dharamshala. Make the most of this destination by visiting the top places and indulge in adventure activities that will give you thrill and excitement. It is the perfect destination for your much-awaited family holiday. There are many places to visit in Dharamshala and numerous things to do.
The top 12 places to visit in Dharamshala are listed below.
Places to visit in Dharamshala
St John in the Wilderness Church
Masroor Rock Cut Temple
Kangra Art Museum
Tibetan National Martyrs Memorial
Dalai Lama Temple Complex
Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
The Tsuglagkhang Complex is not situated in Dharamshala per se but in McLeodganj, a sleepy town around 10 km uphill. Yet, it is first in our list of places for sightseeing in Dharamshala. The complex is noteworthy because it houses the residence (Photang) of the 14th Dalai Lama.
Apart from this, it has the Tsuglagkhang temple, the Namgyal Gompa monastery (where you can see monks in lively debate), and the Tibetan Museum (which offers a keen understanding of the Tibetan crisis). The complex also has a bookshop, a cafe, and a souvenir shop.
Timings: 5 am to 8 pm from April to October; 6 am to 6 pm from November to March. Closed on Mondays
Tip: Since it is not just a tourist place, do exercise caution and take care not to disturb the worshippers.
2. St John in the Wilderness Church
St John in the Wilderness Church, built in 1852, is dedicated to John the Baptist. Situated amid lush deodar forests at Forsyth Gunj, on the way from Dharamshala to McLeodganj, it is a fine example of neo-Gothic architecture, with its Belgian stained glass windows. The grave of Lord Elgin, Governor General and Viceroy of India, is located in the churchyard.
Timings: Every day of the week
Tip: The best time to visit this sightseeing place in Dharamshala is during mass prayers on Sundays
3. Bhagsu Falls
These are located a further 2 km from McLeodganj. However, the spot remains one of the most popular places to see in Dharamshala for its breathtaking view of the Kangra valley. The 20m waterfalls can be spotted on the Triund trek route.
Nearby is the Bhagsunag Temple, where Hindu pilgrims throng to pay homage to Lord Shiva. A freshwater spring and a slate quarry amplify the beauty of the place. A cafeteria ensures that people can stay warm with a hot beverage and delicious local food.
Best time to visit: Summer is the right time to visit this place; July to September would be perfect.
Tip: Although the falls are a sight to behold in the monsoons, it’s wise to stay away from the slippery rocky paths leading up to the falls.
Triund is one of the most popular places to visit in Dharamshala. It is located in the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas and can be reached by a 9 km trek from McLeodganj. Alternatively, one can hire a taxi from McLeodganj to Galu, which is the starting point of the trek.
The fairly tranquil trek can be completed by most, but there is an option of hiring a pony. This makes Triund one of the best places to see in Dharamshala while on a family vacation. The marvellous view of the majestic Dhauladhar Mountains alone makes the trek worth it.
Best time to visit: While March to May is the best period, September to December is also recommended. It is not accessible during the winter months of January and February when heavy snowfall cuts off the route.
Tip: If sprawling lush green meadows enthral you, the rainy months of June and July are perfect.
5. Dal Lake
Dal Lake is one of the topmost places to visit in Dharamshala. Situated at a distance of around 8 km from the market, it can be easily reached by taxi. Its growing popularity has made it only second to the iconic Dal Lake of Srinagar and rightly so, because of its splendid scenic beauty. The lake is a great place for the entire family to bond over activities such as boating and fishing. It is also a trekking point where people can enjoy both light and extensive treks; it is thus ideal for a family with members of different ages.
Best time to visit: September is a good time to be at the Dal Lake; tribes from the adjoining villages celebrate their annual festival here at this time
The village of Dharamkot is one of the best places to visit in Dharamshala to relax. If you wish to wander aimlessly along forest paths, soaking in the sights and sounds, this is the place. It will especially appeal to those who want a break from the crowds at McLeodganj and Bhagsu.
Dharamkot has a distinct mix of spiritual energy and serenity, lending it a characteristic vibe. It is a ‘yoga village’, and one can imagine why; the whistling deodars and calls of the mountain birds make it an ideal spot to meditate.
Dharamkot is also known for its cafes, which themselves have become spots for sightseeing in Dharamshala. Of these, ‘Trek and Dine’ has achieved cult status. These cafes will particularly satisfy the bohemians among us.
Timings: 9 am to 11 pm (for Cafe Trek and Dine)
7. Gyuto Monastery
The interesting history of Gyuto Monastery makes it one of the most noteworthy places to visit in Dharamshala. It originated in the 15th century in Tibet and was re-established in India in the 20th century after the Chinese invasion. This monastery stands apart from others because of its practice of tantric meditation and an alluring statue of Sakhyamani Buddha.
Best time to visit: Although the monastery may be visited throughout the year, Buddha Purnima is especially good to revel in its beauty as a colourful cultural show is put up on this occasion.
8. War Memorial
The War Memorial is located in the thick pine forests that surround the town of Dharamshala. It commemorates the Himachali soldiers who were martyred in India’s wars with China and Pakistan, and in the UN Peacekeeping Missions. Three huge panels of black marble are inscribed with the names of those who made sacrificed their lives for their motherland.
The GPC College of Dharamshala, located next to the memorial, is a fine building that also catches the eye of tourists. The rustic trails through the pine forests leading up to landscaped gardens make the environs straight out of a storybook, which definitely makes it one of the places to see in Dharamshala.
Timings: 9 am to 7 pm every day (for GPC College)
9 Kangra Valley
An essential spot for sightseeing in Dharamshala, Kangra Valley is the most scenic valley of the Dhauladhar range. It is known for its mesmerising beauty and the exotic flora and fauna. It has become a hotspot for adventure activities and holds great religious significance in Dharamshala as well. There are numerous spiritual sites like St. John’s Church, Chintpuni temple, Brajeshwari Temple, Jwalamukhi temple and Varajeshwari temple. While in the valley, you can visit the Kangra Fort, Kangra School of Painting and the World War Memorial. The valley in Dharamshala remains accessible throughout the year but the best time to visit is from May to October. The valley can be easily reached and is accessible from nearby towns. It is a favourite destination for adventure activities like mountaineering, trekking, hang gliding and parasailing. It is also the best place for bird watching and nature walks. This valley in Dharamshala remains covered with dense tea gardens and orchards throughout the year. The Dharamshala valley is a complete destination in itself and will offer numerous opportunities for sightseeing in Dharamshala, and you can spend a few enjoyable hours here. There is something for every traveller at this beautiful and scenic Kangra valley. You might want to inquire about the adventure sports in advance and make a booking for the same when you are in Dharamshala. Tourists frequent the valley during the peak season. It is an important location for sightseeing in Dharamshala.
Kangra valley in Dharamshala is full of perennial streams that run through the valley. It is located at the height of 2000 feet and spreads from the Dhauladhar range to the south of the Beas river. The main peak on the range is the boundary between Chamba and the Kangra valley. It has an elevation of 15,956 feet. The valley is an integral part of sightseeing in Dharamshala and should be at the top of your itinerary. No visit to Dharamshala can be complete without a visit to the Kangra valley. You will get the best photo opportunity here and the best time to explore it is during summer when the beauty of lush green trees surrounds the valley.
10 Masroor Rock Cut Temple
This Hindu Temple is one of the top places to visit in Dharamshala. It is famous for the monolithic rock carvings and is situated in Kangra near Dharamshala. These stone images are from the ancient times of Mahabharata, and they will transport you to the older era and in the realms of the Gods and Goddesses. Major shrines include Lord Rama, Sita and Laxmana. There is a water pond in a rectangular shape inside the temple, and it is considered to be profoundly divine. A lot of Hindu devotees visit this shrine from across the country. It is a must visit place in Dharamshala. There is an interesting legend associated with this temple in Dharamshala. It is believed that the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva’s coronation and therefore there is the presence of the idol of Lord Shiva at the central point of the temple. It is further believed that a follower of Lord Shiva has carved the monolithic temples and it is built in the Indo Aryan style in Dharamshala. Visitors to Dharamshala are simply mesmerised by this work of wonder. It is located on a hill and gives an excellent view of the surrounding terrain which includes the snow-capped peaks of the Dhauladhar range.
There is another local myth associated with this temple in Dharamshala which makes it an important place to visit in Dharamshala. It is believed that the Pandavas spent a long period in this temple premise during their exile and there was an incomplete staircase found in the temple. It is said that the Pandavas constructed this staircase to reach heaven and they took an oath to finish the construction of the stairs in one day. After hearing about this, the king of Gods, Indra was tensed as he thought the stairs would make it easier for the Pandavas to reach heaven and he disguised himself in the form of a crow and crew loudly much before dawn so that the Pandavas could not complete this staircase. Even if you are not religiously inclined, it is advisable to visit the temple in Dharamshala for the sheer beauty and the rock carvings. When you look at the beauty of the sculptures, it will take you back to the bygone era. You can ask the locals in Dharamshala to share the myths associated with this temple to learn more about it. It is an important place to visit in Dharamshala and should be in your itinerary. Even if you are here for a minimum duration, a visit to the temple is a must.
11 Namgyal Monastery
This is one of the most famous places to visit in Dharamshala. This monastery in Dharamshala is a significant learning centre and is the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet. The Dharamshala monastery houses around 200 monks and looks very auspicious. The Dharamshala monastery attracts tourists throughout the year. The monastery has Tibetan style architecture, prayer wheels, attractive decor and a visually appealing colour scheme. When visiting this monastery in Dharamshala, do not miss the prayer room and meditation session of the monks. The second Dalai Lama founded the Dharamshala monastery in the 16th century, and the monks here perform rituals for the welfare of Tibet. It also works as a place for learning and practising Buddhism for the monks. It is the most beautiful monastery in Dharamshala you might have ever seen. Its beauty encompasses everything and for people who are not religiously inclined will be captivated by the ambience and the magnificent figures of Buddha. This is one of the most important places for sightseeing in Dharamshala. There is no entry fee, and the Dharamshala monastery remains open from 6 AM to 7 PM, and there is a cafe which remains open from 10 AM to 10 PM every day.
No trip to Dharamshala can be complete without a visit to this monastery. It is one of the top places to visit in Dharamshala. It will give you fascinating insights into the culture and tradition of Buddhism. Foreign nationals and Indian tourists alike frequent the Dharamshala monastery. You will enjoy excellent views from the monastery in Dharamshala. It is one place where you will find hundreds of monks of all ages, and you will even be able to interact with them as well. Your trip to Dharamshala will be complete when you visit this monastery and spend time meditating or simply soaking in the natural beauty while reflecting on your life. It is also an opportunity for you to learn about the Buddhist religion and understand their beliefs in Dharamshala. If children accompany you, this monastery in Dharamshala is an ideal place to introduce them to a world completely different from what they are used to.
12 Bhagsunag Temple
This Hindu temple in Dharamshala is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the most ancient temple in Dharamshala and one of the top places to visit in Dharamshala. A lot of tourists in Dharamshala frequents it. Bhagsunag Temple is perched in the lofty hills and is surrounded by exceptional beauty. It is a famous tourist attraction in Dharamshala, and a must visit. If you are in Dharamshala in September, do not miss out on the annual fair held at the temple. There are a lot of Dharamshala locals who take part in the local fair, and it is an opportunity for you to explore the local tradition and culture. The fair in Dharamshala is thronged by locals from nearby villages as well. Located at a distance of about 3 km from Mcleodgunj, the temple is highly regarded by the Gorkha community in Dharamshala. It has two pools which are believed to have healing properties. There is a legend in Dharamshala which says that King Bhagsu built this temple after seeking forgiveness from the Snake God. King Bhagsu stole water from the sacred Nag Dal lake, and this angered the Snake God. This was when the king rebuilt the temple. There is also another legend in Dharamshala which states that the shrine was patronage of the Gorkha community in Dharamshala known as Bhagsuwala. It remains open from 6 AM to 7 PM and is famous for a holy dip in the man-made freshwater pool. One of the top places for sightseeing in Dharamshala, a visit to this Dharamshala temple will refresh you and will leave you feeling religious and peaceful. It is a very important place to visit in Dharamshala and is easy to reach, and many prefer to take a dip in the pool. Include it in your itinerary and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the temple.
13 Kangra Fort
Learn about the history and culture of Dharamshala at the famous Kangra Fort. It is the most popular places to visit in Dharamshala and is an ancient structure which dates back to the 4th century BC. Kangra Fort is the largest fort in the Himalayas and is the oldest fort in India. It is located at about 22 km from Dharamshala and is an important sightseeing place in Dharamshala. It is a specimen of architecture which was once the home of the Royal Family of Kangra. The Dharamshala fort is spread on an area of 4 km and has high walls surrounding it. Kangra Fort is on top of a hill on the base of river Patal Ganga and Banganga. It has the most beautiful entrance which is designed with stone carvings and is known as the Ranjit Singh Gate. The fort will give you insights about the history of Dharamshala. There is another entrance door which is the Jahangiri Darwaza that is again followed by the Ahni and Amiri Darwaza. The history of the fort goes back to the 4th century, and the Katoch dynasty in Dharamshala constructed it. It has witnessed various incidents, and its ruins speak the story. History buffs and architecture lovers will love the fort. It is interesting to explore the different temples and the gates which connect the fort. There is an immense history behind the fort, and you will need a couple of hours to explore it thoroughly. You will enjoy a splendid view of the Banganga River and Manjhi as well as the Sansar Chand Katoch Museum. It is a must visit place for sightseeing in Dharamshala. The fort houses three ancient Hindu temples. The entry fee is INR 150 for Indians and INR 300 for foreigners in Dharamshala. It remains open from 9 AM to 6 PM.
14 Kangra Art Museum
Located near the bus stand in Dharamshala, the Kangra Art Museum will give you insights into the art and culture of Northern India. It is a hub in Dharamshala which displays the best of Buddhist and Tibetan culture. Because of its tremendous value, it is one of the top places to visit in Dharamshala. This Dharamshala museum began operations in 1990 and is considered as a must visit place when in Dharamshala. It has ancient items of Kangra valley in the form of utensils, paintings, fabrics, statues, temple figurines and weaponry. It also has one special section for modern sculptures and painters. If you are a history buff and an art enthusiast, this is the place to be when in Dharamshala. There is a rare collection of tribal ornaments, anthropological items, coins and pottery items. It is photography heaven as you can photograph over 1500 artefacts at the museum in Dharamshala. It is an integral part of sightseeing in Dharamshala because of the wealth of information and the beautiful location. This Dharamshala museum differs significantly from most other museums in the country, and it attracts several tourists daily. It is a must visit for those who are keen to learn about Tibetan culture. You might not get an opportunity to see the artefacts and learn about the culture at any other museum in the country. If children accompany you to Dharamshala, this will be an educational visit which is extremely enlightening and enriching. It is equally rewarding for adults. It remains open from 10 AM to 1:30 PM and 2 PM to 5 PM on weekdays except on Monday. The entry fee is INR 10 for Indians and INR 50 for foreigners in Kangra Art Museum, Dharamshala. Do not miss out on this treasure of information at this museum in Dharamshala. It is the most important place to visit in Dharamshala.
15 Naddi Village
This is a charming village located up the hill in Dharamshala and away from the crowd of the main town. It is a serene and picturesque place to visit in Dharamshala. It is a remote village near Dharamshala which has the best views of lofty mountains and the valley. If you head to the village on a clear day, you will be able to sight the snowy peaks of the Dauladhar range. Do not miss out on the panoramic view of the surrounding locations because that is what makes it the best place to relax in Dharamshala. For those who want to get away from the commercialisation and the crowds in Dharamshala, visiting Naddi village is a must. It is close to Dharamshala and has a distinct Tibetan influence. This picturesque village will remain in your memories for a very long time to come. You have to visit this amazing place to make the most of it. The village is known for exceptional sunrise, and you will get the best picture opportunities in the morning. Cut off from the world and spend a few hours simply staring at the wonders of nature while in Dharamshala. You can also choose to stay overnight to catch the best sunrise from here. It is a beautiful place to visit in Dharamshala. You will not find anything as beautiful as this peaceful village in Dharamshala. Both families and youngsters frequent this village throughout the year. One can easily spend six to seven hours at the village in Dharamshala. No pictures can do justice to the beauty of this village; you have to see it to believe it. Include it in your top places to visit in Dharamshala.
16 Sherabling Monastery
This is a beautiful monastery in Dharamshala which is located amidst nature and is one of the best places to visit in Dharamshala. The massive monastery is about 7 km from the main highway which leads to Mandi. You must visit this monastery in Dharamshala mainly for its location. The monastery was established in 1975 and has been constructed in Tibetan architectural style. It has used the ancient science of geomancy. It has excellent architecture, and the entire monastery in Dharamshala is adorned with bright, colourful prayer flags giving it a surreal look amidst the beauty of nature. It is a peaceful place and is less crowded. It is an ideal place to relax and experience the serenity for some time. This monastery in Dharamshala has room for 500 monks, and there are halls for meditation and worshipping purposes. It is an essential part of sightseeing in Dharamshala, particularly if Tibetan Buddhist legacy interests you. It has many followers as well as pilgrims visiting it daily.
17 Tibetan National Martyrs Memorial
This memorial is a must visit for everyone in Dharamshala. It is an important place to visit in Dharamshala. It will show you the fists and faces of men and women who sacrificed their lives for Tibet. The memorial in Dharamshala is a very significant part of Dharamshala as it pays tribute to the martyrs. Tibet was a peaceful nation which was on top of the world, but in 1950 China invaded it, and the tables turned. After nine years, the Tibetans revolted and were again put down by the Chinese. The political and spiritual leader of Tibet, Dalai Lama fled the country with about 80,000 followers and the Indian government offered them refuge in McLeodganj. This is where Dalai Lama then set up the government of Tibet. It became his official residence and was home to many Tibetan refugees. It also has a market where you can shop for numerous items including souvenirs and memorabilia for your friends and family. The memorial is located on the temple road. It is a black obelisk that stands out in Dharamshala. This hill station serves as the headquarters for the exiled Tibetans who have fled their homeland. This monument remains surrounded by a colourful tangle of the prayer flags. Most tourists visit the memorial in Dharamshala to learn more about the history of Tibetans and how they arrived in India. The martyr’s memorial is also a mark of respect for the ones who had lost their lives.
18 Lahesh Caves
A perfect trekking spot in Dharamshala, Lahesh caves are surrounded by rocky grounds and dense forest. It is an ideal camping spot if you have all the protection from the weather and enough water and food. One of the top places to visit in Dharamshala, the caves will mesmerise you with its natural beauty. If you are a soul that craves adventure, your trip will not be complete without camping at the Lahesh caves in Dharamshala. Dharamshala offers numerous adventure opportunities in Kangra Valley, but a visit to these caves is a different experience altogether. Go well prepared for a trek in Dharamshala because it can get freezing during the months of winter and you might need additional layers of clothing to keep you warm. This place in Dharamshala gives you a different experience to enjoy the thrill and excitement of being in Dharamshala.
19 Dalai Lama Temple Complex
Undoubtedly it is one of the most important places to visit in Dharamshala. The Dalai Lama Temple Complex in Dharamshala is at an undisturbed location, and it is ornamented with prayer flags which make it ideal for serene walks. The sound of silence is exactly what you need to hear at the temple complex. The main temple complex in Dharamshala is an architectural marvel with beautiful paintings, and there is a statue of Guru Rinpoche and Shakyamuni. It is the best place to meditate and get connected with your inner self.
20 Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
Dharamshala cricket stadium is one of the best in the country. It is situated at a great height and is beckoned by the snowclad mountain ranges surrounding Dharamshala. The cricket stadium in Dharamshala is a sight to behold. Even if there is no cricket match scheduled in Dharamshala during your visit, you can make the most of its breathtaking landscape at Dharamshala. Due to its natural backdrop, the cricket stadium is one of the most attractive in the world. It is also the highest altitude cricket stadium in the world. A few Ranji and a couple of international matches were played here. Include it in your top places to visit in Dharamshala.
Dharamshala is so beautiful that no pictures can do justice to it. It is stunning and is one of the must-visit destinations in the country. There is a reason no tourist can have enough of Dharamshala and its charm. You will undoubtedly fall in love with this piece of paradise and will never want to go back. Keep this checklist in mind and do not forget to include all the places to visit in Dharamshala in your itinerary. Every monastery and every temple in Dharamshala will introduce you to a new architecture and the beliefs of the people. There is Hinduism, and there is Buddhism, you will be able to explore both the religions and learn about the same in Dharamshala. Dharamshala is an ideal getaway from the hustle of life and will give you immense peace and serenity. Dharamshala is indeed the perfect holiday destination for your family and friends.
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