Dharamshala Travel Guide– If you are a fan of trekking, there is nothing better than visiting these travel destinations. Dharamshala, Dharamkot, and Mcleodganj are homes to many Tibetan refugees.
Experience a whole different culture and rediscover yourself in the calmness of valleys and monasteries by visiting these exquisite destinations.
MEMORABLE TRIP TO DHARAMSHALA
For this trip, we stayed at The Bunker, Dharmkot. It is a warm and cozy place, about 10 minutes away from Heena Café. The Bunker is managed by very gentle and young people. They set up a bonfire for us on the second night. We had the fortune of meeting people from Israel and Germany.
Our usual hangout place would be The Salvation Café. This low-lit café was our go-to place whenever we got tired from treks or wanted to grab a late breakfast. The café and the hostel are usually full of artists and art. Both these places were constructed in the lap of green farms away from the main city.
All three destinations are special in their own cases, talking of the home to Dalai Lama, the foothills to the Himalayas, or the hippie village of Dharamkot.
Visiting all of these three will give you the complete experience of Tibetan culture and will open a window to your spiritual self. Located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, discover another you!
DALAI LAMA- THE COMMON CONNECTION
Dharamshala is popular for its reputation as the home to Dalai Lama, a Buddhist spiritual leader who settled in Dharamshala in 1959. Lush greenery at the foothills of Dhauladhar ranges and rich Tibetan culture will around you in this beautiful place.
Mcleodganj is situated in the upper part of Dharmashala. This mesmerizing town attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year. The Tibetan influence in this town is also very pronounced. Bhagsu is definitely a location that you cannot miss out on.
Dharamkot is a small happy village near Dharamshala and Mcleodganj. Although it doesn’t receive as many tourists as the other two cities, it has its own value as the Yoga village.
Experience the Tibetan culture, peace, beautiful valleys of Dhauladhar, and trekking in these quaint towns. It is not only an adventurer’s paradise but also a peaceful recluse.
Thinking of what you are going to eat when you go to a place is a necessity because we are foodies at heart, right?
Treat yourself with authentic Tibetan cuisine that you can find in almost every corner of these places. Surprisingly, there are many other cuisines available here.
There is a wide variety of eateries including Kashmiri, Nepali to Italian, Israeli, Belgian, Bhutanese, Chinese, Scottish, Japanese, and Korean eateries. Serve yourself a yummy platter of these delicious dishes while visiting!
We have compiled a list of our favorite restaurants that you should definitely try on your trip.
- Tibet kitchen
Despite what the name suggests, you will find different kinds of cuisines in Tibet kitchen. Their menu includes dishes from Bhutanese, Chinese, Thai, and even Indian cuisines. They offer hard-to-resist spicy food that will not only treat your taste buds but will also keep you warm. Kewa Datse, a Bhutanese dish, and Shapta, an unusual Tibetan dish, are the best-sellers here. Don’t miss their momos.
- Four seasons café
This tiny little café has gained a lot of popularity among tourists with its homemade dishes available at affordable rates. It is a dim-lit café with a window view of the street. You can enjoy the hustle-bustle of the city while eating your meal here.
This cozy place offers a multitude of Tibetan and Italian dishes with a surprisingly delicious taste! Mix thukpa, chicken momos, Formaggio pasta, toasted garlic bread and pizzas, and chicken soutesmen are some of the best dishes with amazing customer reviews. We had a plate of pancake and a glass of Cold Coffee here. They were the best!
- Buddha’s Delight Café and Restaurant
Are you looking for authentic Tibetan cuisine which is prepared using traditional Tibetan methods? Well, Buddha’s delight is just the place. The recipes are passed down from one generation to another. You can also find amazing Chinese cuisine on the menu. We can guarantee that you will want to go back. The quaint interior of the café will calm you.
We found this café on the trek to Bhagsu Nag. It was a mindless-discovery and the best one. The seating area of the Buddha’s Delight is hung over a mountain. You can look at the Dhauladhar while eating their freshly baked pizza and hummus. Enjoy your meal while overlooking the scenic greenery of Mcleoganj. If you are in luck, the café also offers Avocado toast! Don’t miss their cold coffee.
- Khana nirvana
Imagine enjoying the scenic views of Dharamshala while savoring mouth-watering Chinese food. Such an appealing picture, isn’t it?
Well, Khana nirvana is just the place. You have to climb up three flights of stairs and there you have it, the view of the whole of Dharamshala from one place. The city becomes so much more vibrant in the nights! The interior is warm and welcoming. This is the perfect place where you can find a corner with a book and read peacefully.
- Seven Hills of Dokkaebi
Yes! Korean food is available in Mcleodganj! This quaint little restaurant is nestled by Lung-Ta, a Japanese restaurant. You can fill your plate with the delicious variety of food offered here. In this place, the portions are hearty and the food is excellent. The Pork Bagogi and stir-fries are some of the dishes you have to try when you visit.
- Local momos
If you visit the Tibetan refugee towns and don’t try momos is it really worth it? You can have the best-in-class momos by the many monasteries in Dharamshala at extremely cheap rates. And there is no compromise in the quality either! Imagine having tasty food at only Rs 30! And you can also have non-veg momos at Rs 50. Worth every paisa!
- Birdhouse Cakery: Another accidental discovery we made on the way to the Bhagsunag trek was this little cakery. We had a plate of pancakes and cold coffee here too. The baker was kind enough to bake us fresh cinnamon buns for our trek too! Ask for the location of Birdhouse Cakery at The Salvation Café.
PLACES TO VISIT
Bhagsu falls is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Dharmshala. It is situated 2 kilometers away from Mcleodganj.
This majestic waterfall is popular for the Bhagsunath temple, which is a sacred shrine for Hindus and the local Gorkha tribe. The mesmerizing views of the waterfall hold religious value. This natural waterfall will definitely take your breath away with its lush greenery and peace. Do not miss the Bhagsu Cake here!
- St. John in Wilderness Church
This mesmerizing neo-gothic piece of architecture is the final resting place of Lord Ergin. It is one of the oldest structures of Dharmshala and has stood the test of time.
How it survived the 1905 Kangra earthquake is still a mystery. It is a church dedicated to John the Baptist. This beautiful structure is popular for its Belgian stained-glass windows and the wilderness that surrounds it.
- Namgyal Monastery
Namgyal is one of the most popular monasteries of Dharamshala. It is said to be the home of the Dalai Lama. It is also popular as ‘the Dalai Lama temple’ for being the 14th Dalai Lama’s one’s personal monastery.
The architecture of this monastery dates back to 16 centuries. Namgyal Tantrik college and a museum is also a part of the compound of this ministry. The peace and serenity that this monastery offers remain unmatched. Enter the spiritual world by paying this beauty a visit and enjoy the calm.
- Dal Lake
Named after the Dal Lake in Srinagar, this lake in Mcleodganj is one of the most picturesque locations. Enjoy the beautiful scenery offered by the Himalayas and tall deodar trees nearby while boating here. You can also find your nature-lover by discovering this beautiful lake and the woods that surround it.
If the season is right, you will be able to visit the grand fair that is organized at the banks of the lake in September. The celebration is a memorable one, the kind you would not want to miss.
- Tea Garden
This is one of the smallest regions for having a tea garden, but this scenic garden is a beautiful site. It is situated in the beautiful Kangra valley.
The intricately aligned columns and aroma of tea surrounding you will make you not want to leave this garden. This garden is the source of tea for most of the tea shops in Dharamshala.
Escape to the magical heights of the Himalayas with Triund Trek. It is one of the most popular trekking sites in India and is considerably easy.
This 9-kilometer track is situated at the elevation of 2828 m. So put your adventure gear on and enjoy the scenic views of your adventure. You can easily see the entire Kangra valley from here. Many of the tourists come to Dharamshala just for this trek!
Nightlife and pubs
The spiritual environment of Dharamshala provides peaceful nights with the calming wind. But if you dig deep enough you will be able to find some must-visit spots to enjoy after dark hours. We have cut short your search and compiled a list of places where you can experience the nightlife of Dharamshala to the fullest.
- Black magic
Rich brown interiors that accompany tasteful Tibetan food. Perfect for a calming night while sipping well-aged wine or freshly brewed beer. An ideal place for relaxing and reliving memories.
- McLeo bar and restaurant
This is one of the most popular places in Mcleodganj. Away from the crowded streets of the city with an open rooftop, tourists enjoy the peace under the stars. It is the perfect spot for socializing too! With amazing food and alcohol on go, this bar is always packed.
- Triund trek
Who says the nightlife is only supposed to be about drinks and dance? Explore your adventurer with Triund trek. It is one of the most popular tracks in India. It is situated at Dhauladhar mountains and offers mesmerizing views of the mountain range on one hand and Kangra valley on the other. Have a dance session under the stars around the bonfire.
- Xcite Discotheque
Are you at Dharamshala with your friends? And you really want to have a good time? Xcite is the perfect place for you. It is quite popular among youngsters. You can dance your heart out her eat the tasteful playlist. And to add to that you have from a wide variety of wines and cocktails to choose from.
WHERE TO SHOP?
Pretty much everything in Mcleodganj is available in the Monastery Market and around Mcledoganj Central Square. You can find everything spiritual here.
If you have been looking for singing bowls, healing stones, crystals, statues, thangka, meditative paintings, or jewelry, this market is for you.
You should know how to bargain here. The lined cotton kurta and pajamas are very durable. These are the best to do yoga in. Apart from that little trinkets and jewelry is available at dirt cheap prices here. You will also find many ladies seating and crocheting shoes for children and adults, shop local!
- Overcharging taxis and cabs: You will have to bargain a lot with the cab drivers here. They cost you a fortune.
- Nightlife: Even though the nightlife is super safe, you might want to head back to your hostel before sunset, after which it is difficult to see the road for the drivers.
SAFE TRAVEL FOR WOMEN?
Travelling is usually not frowned upon by many, especially not alone. There is the safety that is to consider, and then there are parents. But fret not, we have got you covered. We have some tips for you that will help you with travelling carefree and worrying less about your safety.
- Keep it locked: First and foremost, make sure to maintain simple precautionary measures while travelling. Always lock your bags and rooms to prevent your goods from being stolen. Pack in small bags to help you in storing them safely. So, you can stop worrying about your wallet or passport being stolen from now on.
- Through and through Research well about your travel destination. Make an itinerary of the places you will be visiting and the place you will be staying beforehand. The safety information is easily available on the internet. Enquire about the transportation available in your travel destination. Talking of risks, visit a travel clinic beforehand and ask about the vaccines you might need. Also, know the risks of any adventures you might take part in. Who knows? The research might even be fun for you!
- Essentials only: Only carry your essentials, we repeat, only the essentials. Yes, that shirt might look good on you. And you might need a bikini. But you have to be rational. Extra goods will only increase the storage space and the risk of them being stolen. And no, those extra pair of shoes and flashy jewelry is not a part of essentials. You can make a list of all the essentials and pack accordingly. The items you pack also depend on your travel destination.
- Don’t trust strangers: As kids, we have been told to not trust strangers, and that stands correct in this situation too. Do not trust people easily, especially when you are travelling alone. We know that finding new people is an appealing option but always keep in mind that your safety is your first priority.
- Ensure your safety: You can never be too cautious while you’re travelling. A simple way is to carry extra cash that you will use in case of emergencies only. Get travel insurance too, just to be on the safer side.
HOW TO REACH MCLEODGANJ FROM DELHI
Travelling is a major issue when it comes to visiting places. You want to have a comfortable journey but you don’t want to spend a fortune just on travelling. Being the capital of India, Delhi is well connected to most of the places across the country. And Mcleodganj is no different. So here we have some of the best ways to travel from Delhi to Mcleodganj at the cheapest rates:
- By air: Fast and comfortable. The best and possibly the most luxurious way to travel from Delhi to Mcleodganj. You can get a direct flight from Delhi to Dharamshala and continue your journey via bus. It will not take you more than two and a half hours. But with that kind of comfort and luxury comes a price. If you are willing to spend a little extra on your travel to ensure safety, then flights will be the most convenient option for you!
- By train: Do you enjoy the steady noise of the train and window seats? Well, there is a train available for you to travel from Delhi to Mcleodganj. Although you might have to compromise on comfort and travel time, you will have a typical experience of a train. The best part of the trains is that it is way cheaper than flights. Although it might not be very convenient to all.
- By bus: This is our favorite option. Choose to have a sleeper bus, and have a compartment for yourself. Pack a bag of snacks and a few movies and you will be enjoying your travel the best. To some, the 11-hour journey may sound tedious but you can get a lot of work done. And it is the cheapest option of all! No stayover and no hassle of changing the buses at all. Travelling by bus comes highly recommended by us if you want to save some money.
Do not miss the Bhagsu cake at any cost. Find it on the way to Bhagsu Nag at the Old German Bakery. Mcleodganj and Dharamshala is the treat for the soul. These places are a perfect getaway if you are looking for a long weekend trip.
The best part about this place is that people are helpful and smiling at you, no matter where you go. They greet you and make you feel at home. Meditating to the sound of the chimes and the flowing rivers is a memory that you won’t ever forget.