Dharamshala Beyond McLeodganj And Its Cramped Cafes

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(c) Darshan Gajara, Unsplash

Photo of McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ishvani Hans

I have noticed that Dharamshala and Mcleodganj are often used interchangeably, even though Mcleodganj is only a suburb of Dharamshala. Yet, year after year, a deluge of travellers flock to this suburb, mostly for its myriad hipster cafes and trekking to Triund, which has gained immense popularity over the past few years.

When I visited McLeodganj 4 years back, much to my co-travellers’ dismay, I felt unimpressed upon seeing a colourless cluster of cafes which were jam-packed by a horde of tourists. There must be something more, something beyond this trite set-up, I thought. A bit of internet research coupled with conversations with travellers made me realize that there indeed is a lot more to Dharamshala than McLeodganj and its cafes. Here's what you can do:

Master the art of cooking momos in just one class

(c) Abhishek Sanwa Limbu, Unsplash

Photo of Dharamshala Beyond McLeodganj And Its Cramped Cafes by Ishvani Hans

Rita Kapoor, an experienced cook from North India gives several 3-hour cooking lessons in her private kitchen. The batch size is small, with no more than 8 participants. Travellers swear by her lucidity in explaining things and the authentic taste of the dishes.

Where: Old German Bakery, 1st floor, room #2, opposite Buddha Hall, Bhagsunag, Dharamshala

Discover rare and old books

Representational image, (c) Darwin Vegher, Unsplash

Photo of Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Upmuhal, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ishvani Hans

Library of Tibetan Works and Archives is a well-kept secret of Dharamshala, located in a sheltered Tibetan area with books on Tibetan and Buddhist philosophy. The library also houses a museum containing notable artifacts and is a must-visit place for art and history enthusiasts.

Where: Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamshala

Get a free session of meditation

Tushita Meditation Centre, a peaceful place with exquisite hill views offers various meditation courses. For someone who is unfamiliar with meditation can attend their free, guided meditation which takes place from 9:30 to 10:30 am daily except Sundays. They also have a library from where anyone can rent a book.

Where: McLeodganj, Dharamshala

Delve into the rich past of Kangra District

Museum of Kangra Art also known as State Art Museum is a small but well-maintained place that won’t fail to impress art and history lovers. There are various items on display including but not limited to crafts, artifacts, sculptures, carved woods, jewellery, and manuscript. One can also buy local artists’ artwork here. Do note that the museum is closed on Mondays.

Where: MDR45, Sudher, Dharamshala

Learn to play an Indian instrument

Divine Indian Music Center is a highly rated place for learning Indian instruments such as Flute, Tabla, Sitar, and Harmonium to name a few. You can also learn to sing and dance here. The teachers, Nidhi and Hari are revered by guests and are known for their kindness and warmth.

Where: Upper Bhagsu, Next to Gypsi King Guest House, Dharamshala

Get a glimpse into the monastic way of living

Located on the outskirts of Dharamshala, Gyuto Tantric Monastery is an impressive, cloistered monastery painted in shades of yellow. It requires you to climb some 40-50 steep steps in order to reach the shrine. The characteristic Tibetan architecture perfectly complements the picturesque Dhauladar mountains in the backdrop.

Where: Sidhbari, Dharamshala

Stay with nuns for a silent retreat

Thosamling Nunnery is a haven for solo travellers looking for a peaceful retreat. You need to walk through rice paddies, in order to reach the sequestered nunnery where you are welcomed by gardens, flowers, prayer flags, bamboo trees, kindness, and delectable food. Every fortnight, a weekend meditation course is held which is highly recommended.

Where: Sidhpur, Dharamshala

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