Dharamshala is a small city in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh at the edge of the Himalayas. This hillside city is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.
However, the place where everything happens is the village of McLeodGanj, situated in the upper suburbs of Dharamshala. Above all, you feel you’re not in India anymore because you are surrounded by Tibetan monks and Tibetan souvenirs. In contrast with other areas of the country, in Dharamshala, the atmosphere is peaceful.
We went to Dharamshala at the beginning of February, therefore it was cold and rainy. Because of this, we only stayed for 2 days.
This is our itinerary for 2 days in Dharamshala.
On day 1 we decided to go around the city and visit the temples and the Tibetan stores.
Dalai Lama’s main temple
This is where you can join Dalai Lama for meditation if he’s doing one (you can check the online schedule for public meditation and register).
We went there and watched the monks pray. The entrance is free, but make sure you don’t carry lighters.
There are many Buddhist temples around the area. We went to the Buddhist Stupa and it was a very peaceful and colored place. We went also to some small local temples.
The view above all is amazing and there are some specific hiking routes, but because we went in winter, they were covered in snow. Therefore, we had to improvise our own route.
Where to stay
First of all, there are a lot of budget options around Dharamshala and McleodGanj.
We booked 3 nights at Hostelavie in McleodGanj because we went with some friends. The place was very nice but rather cold for winter time. I bet in spring or summer is Heaven on earth and you can do activities on the rooftop.
* You can use this code if you book for a minimum value of 30€ and you get 15€ back from Booking.com.
Where to eat
We’ve spent our time in only one place because it was the only one with heaters inside and very cozy atmosphere.
The food is amazing and the price very good, and, above all, they have their own bakery with incredible cakes (also a lot of vegan options). The atmosphere is relaxed and you can meet cool backpackers and Buddhist monks while enjoying the nice view over the mountains.
How to get to Dharamshala
There is almost always a direct half sleeper bus (our bus got canceled so make sure to book it through an agency to get a refund if this happens).
Price: 1500 INR (18,50€)
Duration: approx. 15 hours
We booked a last minute private half sleeper night bus from the main bus station (ISBT bus station) because our bus from Rishikesh got canceled 2 days before leaving.
Price: 1700 INR (21€)
Duration: 12 hours
To sum it up, Dharamshala is an incredibly beautiful and peaceful village, on the other hand, most importantly is to choose wisely when to visit it. Therefore, if you are going in winter, make sure you are prepared for wind and snow. However, we went very bad prepared but we also stayed for a short period of time.
Furthermore, you can choose to go when Dalai Lama is there. However, we missed him by a few days.
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