It’s almost impossible to be in India and not feel overwhelmed by everything happening around you. That is why I also decided to take a break and start exploring the quietness of Dharamshala.
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. The place where everything actually happens is the village of McLeodGanj, situated in the upper suburbs of Dharamshala.
Going there feels like not being in India anymore, but having a taste of Nepal. You will be surrounded by Tibetan monks and Tibetan souvenir shops.
HOW TO GET TO DHARAMSHALA?
From Rishikesh: There is a direct half sleeper bus (ours got cancelled, so make sure to book it through an agency. That way you’ll get a refund if this happens).
Price: 1500 INR (18,50€)
Duration: approx. 15 hours
From Dehradun: We booked a last minute private half sleeper night bus from the main bus station (ISBT Bus Station).
Price: 1700 INR (21€)
Duration: approx. 12 hours
Before arriving to India, make sure you get your visa. Check here how to do it in the easiest way.
THINGS TO DO IN DHARAMSHALA
- Visit Dalai Lama’s main temple: You can join Dalai Lama for meditation if you’re lucky (check the online schedule for public meditation and register). The entrance in the temple is FREE.
- Do a hiking route: The view is amazing and there are some specific hiking routes. But choose your time wisely. We went in winter and they were covered in snow. We had to improvise our own route.
- Do a temple hoping: There are many Buddhist temples around the area. We went to the Buddhist Stupa and it was a very peaceful and coloured place.
WHERE TO STAY IN DHARAMSHALA
There are a lot of budget options around Dharamshala and McleodGanj. You can choose from private rooms in homestays, to hostels.
I stayed 3 nights at Hostelavie in McleodGanj. It was my first time in a hostel, but the place was very nice and clean. Unfortunately, for winter time it’s definitely too cold. I bet in spring or summer is Heaven on earth and you can do activities on the rooftop.
WHERE TO EAT IN DHARAMSHALA
We’ve basically spent our free time in only one place, as it was the only one cozy and with heaters inside.
Green Hotel and Restaurant: Food is amazing and very good priced. They even have their own bakery with incredible cakes (also a lot of vegan options). The atmosphere is super relaxed and you can meet cool backpackers and buddhist monks while enjoying the nice view over the mountains.
AN OASIS OF PEACE IN INDIA
If time is no problem for you, don’t hesitate. Hop on a bus and start exploring the quietness of Dharamshala. Get lost in the mountains and watch the sunset from the rooftop of your hostel. Eat street food and buy cheap, but authentic Tibetan souvenirs. Learn how to spot a fake meditation bowl and buy handmade mandala paintings.
Are you planning on exploring the quietness of Dharamshala? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!
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