Dharamshala- A Picturesque And Pristine Hill Station Beckons You
Dharamshala is a pristine hill station in Himachal Pradesh, which was formerly known as Bhagsu. The city is located in Kangra Valley and the region is surrounded by deodar forests and coniferous forests. While Dharamshala is in itself a very beautiful place, there are a number of other places around the hill station which are as wonderful to visit. You could travel to some of them with Dharamshala or Mcleodganj as your base if you have enough time on your hands for an extended vacation. This is a haven for trekkers who want to go deep into the mountains to see the beauty of the Himalayas not commonly seen by anyone else. There are also ample opportunities for enjoying adventure sports here. Here are some of the other places to visit near Dharamshala which should be high on your travel list:
Places to visit near Dharamshala:
- Kangra Fort
- Prashar Lake
This hill town is only about 5.2 km from Dharamshala. Known as Little Lhasa, Mcleodganj is the home of the current Dalai Lama after he sought refuge in India after China’s occupation of Tibet. Almost everyone who visits Dharamshala, visits Mcleodganj and vice versa. This hill town is a spiritual retreat and a number of ashrams are located here, some of them being the Osho Ashram, the Chinmay Tapovan and the temple of Chamunda, and most importantly, the main temple of Dalai Lama. Trekkers come here from every part of the world and this often forms their base camp from where they head on to different trails. One of the most popular tourist attractions here is the church of St. John, which is located in the dense forest and it is quite an adventure to make your way through the thickets and find this church. The Dal Lake is pristine and offers boat rides during the summers. It is one of the best places to enjoy some mouthwatering, authentic Tibetan food and a number of food joints sell premium continental cuisine as well. Nick’ Italian Kitchen and Jimmy’s Bakery are some of the most well known ones. You can simply take a bus from Dharamshala to Mcleodganj and you will reach in less than an hour.
Triund is only about 13.5 km from Dharamshala and most people reach the destination via trekking. The Triund Trek has fast become a hotspot for trekkers not only from India but from all over the world. You can in fact, see trekkers leave from the Triund trail almost every day in droves. There is a small temple, the Galu Davi mandir, on top of the Triund Hill. The main trekking trail is about 6 km and it is a very light and easy trek, which is why it is extremely popular among novice trekkers. Seasoned trekkers go beyond that and often camp in the laps of the mountains at night. The trail is lined with beautiful rhododendron trees and in all, there are about 22 switchbacks in and out of the main trail, so literally you will never get bored and each trip will reveal something new to you. Once you reach the top, you will be greeted with a magnanimous sight of the Dhauladhar Mountains and the Mun Peak. You have to keep in mind that trekking is the only way to reach Triund and there is no road for cars beyond the Galu Devi temple.
3. Kangra Fort
Kangra Fort is about 20 km from Dharamshala and is located in the foothills of the Kangra town. It is one of the few Rajput forts in the mountains and was built by the rulers of the Katoch dynasty. Naturally, this fort is immensely significant. It is said that this dynasty is in fact an offshoot of the Trigarta Dynasty, which is mentioned in the Mahabharata. The fort lies in the older part of the town, and right by a steep cliff. It was built right at the confluence of the Banganga and the Majhi Rivers and the cliff and rivers provided the fort with great natural protection. One of the best ways of knowing about the history of this fort is to visit the Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch Museum that is located beside the fort. It has all the information about the dynasties that ruled Kangra throughout the ages and the history of the hill tribes around the land.
Bir is about 64 km from Dharamshala. You must definitely visit Bir on your next trip to Dharamshala, which is famous because it is the second highest paragliding site in the world. This hill town is located in the Joginder Nagar valley of Himachal and also has a Tibetan refugee settlement here. It is one of the popular hill station in Himachal pradesh. Paragliding in Bir is almost like a dream like experience- there are few things as beautiful as sailing over the mountain peaks and valleys that stretch out for miles below you as you have a bird’s eye view of the entire range. One of the main places to visit here is the Dharmalaya Institute. It has an eco- campus that is working on promoting eco- tourism in the area and to increase sustainable development. The Deer Park is a must visit as you will come across many new species of deer. Visit the Bir Tea Factory for some tea tasting and to pick up some rare blends. The Chokling Gompa is a cave which is great for some light exploration and is very thrilling.
Naggar is about 217 km from Dharamshala and is located in the Kullu district, by the amazing mountain river Beas. It is an ancient town and not many people know about it, which is why it is a great location to enjoy the tranquility of the hills, with the cacophony of tourists. This hill city was the capital of the Kullu Kingdom for over 1400 years and has a very indigenous culture and way of life of its own. The main attraction here is Naggar Castle which was built over 500 years ago by Raja Sidh Singh, and this palace was in turn made from the stones of the abandoned palace of Rana Bhonsle. It is a rare and magnificent specimen of Pahadi architecture. You must also visit Nicholas Roreich Art Gallery, named after the Russian painter and explorer who happened to settle here in the 20th century.
6. Prashar Lake
Prashar Lake lies about 166 km from Dharamshala and is located in the Mandi district of Himachal. There are few places which will offer such amazing scenic view of the Pir Panjal Range. One of the best ways to reach the lake is to start a trek from the Bagi Village. You will be mesmerized by the beauty that greets you en route. Alternately, you can get a local HRTC bus from mandi as well. The lake has a very mystical ambience because of the small piece of land which floats on it and it has yet not been possible to measure the depth of the lake, for reasons unknown. Nor is there an explanation for the island in the middle of the lake. The other attraction here is the temple of pagoda of Prashar Rishi, after whom the lake is named. It is a three storeyed structure surrounded by mountains and lush meadows. You can reach the lake by taking a train till Kiratpur Sahib and then a local cab.
Dalhousie is about 116 km from Dharamshala and is stretched over five hills. It is one of the most popular tourist places near Dharamshala. Located at an elevation of 1970 meters, this hill town was built by the British and the Scottish and much of the architecture here is still from the colonial era. There are some boarding schools here which date back to the British era. You will hardly feel that you are in India as you make your way through the Scottish and British buildings that still house government offices or have been converted into hotels. The small village of Khajjiar here is the perfect example of pristine mountain life. It is known as the mini- Switzerland of India. Be sure to visit the Panchpula waterfall which is stunning to behold. The Daikund Peak trek also starts from here so many trekkers come here as well. The Chamera Dam offers a great spot for photography. Dalhousie has many writers visiting from time to time as they come here to think, write and ponder on life.
This city is about 153 km from Dharamshala. Chamba is located at the confluence of the Ravi and Sal Rivers and there are a number of old temples and palaces here. The city is famous for its two major annual fairs and jatras-namely the Suhi Mata Mela and the Minjar Mela. The city resonates with singing and dancing and a number of tourists go from Delhi and UP at this time of the year. The temples and palaces here all have a story of their own and there are local guides who will tell you interesting stories about them. One of the major temple here is the Champavati Temple and the other one is the Banni Temple. Of the palaces, the Akhand Chandi Palace draws a large number of tourists. Do not forget to visit the Church of Scotland, which was set up by the Scottish missionaries when they came here. One of the easiest ways of reaching Chamba is to take the broad gauge railway train from Pathankot.
You will have a lovely time when you visit Dharamshala and all these adjoining places which will offer you adventure, beauty, history and tranquility at the same time. You will have to plan multiple trips to cover these amazing places around Dharamshala.
A music enthusiast and a sucker for harmonies, Megha loves singing and expressing her emotions through her writings. Stuck between a fragile heart and a strong mind, she intends to stay passionate about her work. She has a soft corner for animals and loves binging on netflix!
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