The Only Itinerary You Need to Witness the Magic of Dharamshala

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Located in Kangra Valley, Dharamshala is a town that is the seat of rich Buddhist and Tibetan culture. A town unlike any other in the plains, Dharamshala provides impressive, imposing views of the mighty snow-clad Dhauladhar ranges and is a must-visit. Here’s how you can spend 4 days in this magical town and came back more rejuvenated than ever before.

Day 1:

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Photo of Norbulingka institute, Sidhpur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Saumiabee

Start your day with a trip to Norbulingka Institute, which is a centre created for the preservation of Tibetan art and culture. Norbulingka is a 20 minute drive away from Dharamshala and is a haven enveloped in the middle of the city. Norbulingka seems like another world all together. From its decorated gates to a beautifully manicured landscape, the institute is rife with Tibetan art, colourful prayer flags and chortens. Here, you can free guided tour that will take you me to a wood-carving workshop, weaving workshop and the Thangka painting workshop. The temple within the institute is very peaceful and can instantly transport you into a meditative mode. Visitors can stay at their Norling Guest House at the cost of ₹3000 and dine at their restaurant or opt for their buffet lunch.

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Photo of Gyuto Monastery, Gopalpur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Saumiabee

You can then head to Gyuto Monastery which is a 10 minute drive from Norbulingka Institute. This is a massive monastery to which the Dhauladhar ranges form an enchanting backdrop. The monks here are said to practice tantric Buddhism. The temple within the monastery’s complex is renowned for its massive Buddha statue which is visited by believers from around the world.

After a lunch and taking short nap, prepare yourself for round 2 of sightseeing!

Hail a cab to the majestic Kangra Fort, located 24km away from Dharamshala. This is the oldest fort in India, and was once, also the largest before its eight-storied structure was destroyed by a massive earthquake. You must take the audio-guide at the entrance and walk around the fort, listening to stories of various battles and conquests that were fought here. The fort was besieged 54 times, starting from Md. Gaznavi, then Alexander the Great, Jahangir and finally the British. The fort is also known for Maa Ambika Temple which is believed to be the oldest temple in India.

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Photo of Australian valley, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India by Saumiabee

Once you're at the top of the fort, keep a look out for an unbelievably beautiful valley called Australian Valley that you can see from here. The drive to Australian valley is delightful, the river on one side, and lush green grasslands on the other.

To unwind after a tiring day, you can head to Blossoms Village Resort that has the only 24x7 rooftop bar and restaurant in all of Dharamshala. On most weekends, there are soulful music performances here, so keep a look out if you're there during the weekend. Enjoy a hearty meal at Blossoms and do make use of their well stocked bar for a good time!

Day 2

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Photo of McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Saumiabee

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Photo of His Holiness Dalai Lama Main Temple, Temple Road, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Saumiabee

Next morning, head to McLeod Ganj, a tourist town that is renowned for being the seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama temple located in the heart of Mcleodganj should be your first pit-stop in the town. The temple is an auspicious and significant one; a visit here will instantly make you realise the grace that His Holiness and the numerous monks living in Mcleodganj exude. There's no denying that there's positive vibe that engulfs this small town.

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Photo of Kalachakra temple, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Saumiabee

Next, you can head out shopping for mementos, Tibetan cutlery, Korean noodles and semi-precious jewellery at the temple road market. Also visit the Kalachakra Temple located in the middle of the market. and then head for lunch.

Visit Tibet Kitchen, a restaurant located at the main square that serves delicious Tibetan and Indian food. Gorge over several plates of momos and thukpa, a meal that will make you keep coming back to this restaurant.

From here, head to the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts where you can interact with Tibetan refugees and learn about the destruction that their cultural heritage has suffered at the hands of the Chinese. Also visit the museum that chronicled Tibetan life before the Chinese invasion. This is a must visit for everyone who wants to know more about Tibetan history.

Visit Woeser bakery, a tiny cafe in the main market for the best coffee you may have ever had and then to Illiterati Cafe for dinner.

Plan on staying the night in Mcleodganj, check out Hotel Bhagsu, a room here will cost you approximately ₹1600 per night. There are numerous hostels, women's hostels and guest houses too that you can book once you're there.

Day 3:

Head out early morning for a day trek to Triund. After reaching Galu Temple by car, you begin a 3 hour trek. Traversing through Triund's rocky terrain that offers majestic views of Dharamshala, you won't even realise how much you've walked. A tedious 2 hour walk later, you'll finally reach the top. The surprise element of Triund is quite high thanks to the majestic view it offers. Just as you are recovering from the last tough patch of the trek, you're presented with an imposing view of Dhauladhar Ranges staring at you will all their magnanimity. Spend a few hours at the top and immerse yourself in Triund's beauty. Head down by 3pm.

Sunset Cafe

Photo of The Only Itinerary You Need to Witness the Magic of Dharamshala by Saumiabee

As you reach the base of Triund hill, you can head to Sunset cafe, a tiny and quaint cafe located in the middle of a forest. From this spot you can enjoy a spectacular sunset and watch the colourful drama that Dharamshala skies are known for. Enjoy a glass of freshly prepared juice here.

Once you're back, you can head to Morgan's Place for delicious Pizza in Dharamkot, and then head back to Dharamshala.

** Alternatively, you can even camp overnight at Triund and then head back to Dharamshala the next day.

Day 4:

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Photo of Masroor Rock Cut Temple, Lahalpur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Saumiabee

In the morning, head to Masroor Temple or Rock-Cut Temples at Masroor that date back to the 8th century. Located by River Beas, this temple is dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Devi and Saura traditions within Hinduism. Even if you're not enthusiastic about idol worship, the temple is extremely picturesque and an architectural delight so it's a must visit for all. Masroor Temple is located 44km away from Dharamshala and it will take about 1.5 hours to reach.

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Photo of The Only Itinerary You Need to Witness the Magic of Dharamshala by Saumiabee

For lunch, hail a cab up to Naddi where you can enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants here. Since this is your last day at Dharamshala, there's no better place than Naddi to absorb all of Dharamshala's beauty. Take a walk around the village and then hike down to the pristine waterfall located beneath Naddi.

By 6pm, head up to Mcleodganj and hail a bus/flight back home.

Best time to travel:

Apart from monsoon, any other time of the year is excellent to visit Dharamshala. During April, there’s a nip in the air and the entire mountain blooms red with rhodendron. Summer is sunny with light showers most evenings. During winter, clear blue skies bless the town and reveal a blanket of stars in the night.

Where to stay:

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Photo of Prakriti Aalay, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Saumiabee

Waking up to sounds of a gushing river and snow-clad ranges is the best experience of staying at this resort. The rooms have a rustic setting and you are sure to enjoy your meals with a view. Equipped with all amenities, this is a great place to stay at.

Getting there and around:

Air: The closest airport to Dharamshala is Kangra Airport in Gaggal located 15km away from Dharamshala. This airport is a very small one, with Spice Jet and Air India servicing between Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi and Kangra Airport everyday.

Road: The journey from New Delhi to Dharamshala takes about 10 hours. Take the route: Delhi– Murthal– Sonipat–Panipat– Karnal– Ambala–Anandpur Sahib–Nangal–Una– Kangra– Dharamshala.

Train: Closest station to Dharamshala is Pathankot. Located 82km away, it takes 2.5 hours to journey between the two.

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