The quiet hill town of Dharamsala lies in the north Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh and offers some of the most picturesque views of the snow-clad Himalayas beyond. With its unique mix of British, Tibetan, and Himachal cultures, Dharamsala is divided into Upper and Lower Dharamsala. Upper Dharamsala or McLeodganj was discovered by the British in the 1850s, some of whom built homes here. By 1960, long after the British had left, the 14th Dalai Lama found refuge in this tiny pine-covered retreat in the mountains. And McLeodganj never looked back. This is where the Dalai Lama has his official residence and where a large Tibetan community lives – a sort of new Lhasa. Lower Dharamsala (the commercial hub) lies 3 km down the hill.
The Tsug-lha-Khang Temple Complex houses the Dalai Lama’s residence with his private office and temple. The Complex also houses the Kalchakra Temple and the Namgyal Monastery. The Namgyaima Stupa is a memorial to martyred Tibetans; the Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness (1852) has exquisite stained-glass windows and is one of the earliest British era buildings here; the Bhagsunag Temple is dedicated to Shiva; Dal Lake is a popular local spot and is home to the Tibetan Children’s Village; the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts is the social heart of the town, drawing innumerable fans to its annual 10-day Shoton Festival in March-April. The main bazaar offers Tibetan carpets, thangkas, brocade, ponchos, lamps, jewellery, unusual curios, wall hangings, rugs, metalware, and trinkets.
Around 14 km from McLeodganj is one of the finest and greatest repositories of Tibetan heritage in the world – the Norbulingka Institute. Established in 1995 and spread over seven acres, the Institute is a living record of Tibet’s rich, ancient culture. It holds traditional Tibetan buildings created by the master craftsmen who arrived here with the Dalai Lama. Visit the library, college, design studio, workshops, guesthouse, and café. Pick up authentic Tibetan souvenirs from the showroom. Finally, don’t miss the outstanding collection of Tibetan dolls at the Losel Doll Museum here, crafted by monks.
Holxo Tours in Dharamshala