City Guide: All About Dharamshala, India's Little Lhasa

Embark on a journey to the Himalayan haven, Dharamshala, where spirituality, breathtaking landscapes, and thrilling adventures await
 A beautiful view of Mcleod Ganj
A beautiful view of Mcleod GanjShutterstock

Nestled in the serene Kangra Valley against the majestic Dhauladhar mountain range, Dharamshala beckons with a unique blend of Tibetan spirituality and Indian charm. As the residence of the Dalai Lama and the heart of the Tibetan exile community, this town in Himachal Pradesh, promises a transcendent travel experience. Whether exploring monasteries, trekking through the Himalayan trails, or savouring diverse cuisines, Dharamshala offers a tapestry of experiences for the avid traveller.


Dharamshala's history unfolds like a captivating narrative, beginning with its connection to the ancient Hindu kingdoms of the region. The British colonial era marked its transformation into a summer retreat, with McLeod Ganj gaining prominence. Post the Tibetan uprising in 1959, Dharamshala became a sanctuary for Tibetan refugees, and McLeod Ganj became the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The historical echoes in the form of colonial architecture, Tibetan monasteries, and ancient forts make Dharamshala a living testament to its diverse past.


Tsuglagkhang Complex: This spiritual hub encompasses the Dalai Lama's residence, the Namgyal Monastery, and the Tsuglagkhang Temple. Pilgrims and visitors can experience Tibetan Buddhism's essence through prayer flags, chanting monks, and the serene ambience.

St. John in the Wilderness Church: A colonial-era Anglican church surrounded by Deodar trees, it stands as a symbol of British Raj influence. The church houses a memorial to Lord Elgin, a Viceroy of India.

The Kangra Fort
The Kangra FortShutterstock

Kangra Fort: A fierce fortress overlooking the Kangra Valley, it narrates tales of ancient battles and resilience. The fort's history dates back to the Rajput era, making it a compelling visit for history enthusiasts.


Tibet Kitchen: Immerse yourself in Tibetan flavours at this restaurant, known for its thukpa, momos, and traditional Tibetan dishes. The ambience is warm, reflecting the cultural richness of the region.

Address: House #1, Main Square, Jogiwara Rd, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Phone: 078074 19692

Namgyal Cafe: Perched on a rooftop, this cafe offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The menu fuses Tibetan and international cuisines, providing a perfect setting for a hearty meal.

Address: Second Floor, Temple Rd, Opp. Municipal Parking, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Phone: 070189 19310

Jimmy's Italian Kitchen: A cosy spot tucked away in the lanes of McLeod Ganj, known for its wood-fired pizzas and a delightful spread of Italian delicacies. The warm interiors make it an inviting space for a relaxed dining experience.

Address: McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Phone: 078761 64439

Morgan's Place
Morgan's Placemorgans_place/Instagram

Morgan's Place: Fusion is the name of the game at Morgan's Place, where Indian and global culinary delights come together. The menu is diverse, catering to different tastes, and the lively ambience makes it a favourite among locals and tourists alike.

Address: Morgan's Place, Dharamkot, Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Phone: 086269 39538

Illiterati Books & Coffee: Nestled in the lap of nature, this cafe offers culinary delights and a vast collection of books. The menu includes global cuisines with a focus on organic ingredients. It is temporarily closed due to some ongoing work but is set to resume operations soon.

Address: Anubhav Apartments, Jogibara Road, Jogibara Village, Mcleodganj, Dharamshala

Phone: +918588046102

Here are some popular street food joints to check out when in Dharamshala:

Kala Momo Point: Located in the bustling streets of Sudher, Kala Momo Point is a haven for momo lovers. The aroma of steaming momos fills the air, and the variety of fillings ensures a delightful culinary adventure.

Address: 6899+QG4, Sudher, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176215

Bhagsu Cake Shop: A hidden gem in the vibrant Bhagsu market, this shop delights visitors with freshly baked goods. From pastries to cookies, it's a sweet escape for those with a sweet tooth.

Address: Police Line, near Police Ground, Jawahar Nagar, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176215

Phone: 078078 54689

Vinod Chat Bhandar: Indulge in the flavours of Indian street food at Vinod Chat Bhandar. The chaats and snacks served here capture the essence of local street culinary delights.

Address: Kotwali bazaar, Sudher, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176215

Phone: 098165 34441

Thakur Dhaba: Experience the authenticity of Himachali cuisine at Thakur Dhaba. This local eatery serves dhaba-style delights, offering a taste of the region's traditional flavours.

Address: 684C+GWR, Civil Lines, Jawahar Nagar, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176215

The Chocolate Log: For those craving sweets, the Chocolate Log in McLeodganj is a haven. Handmade chocolates and confectioneries make for perfect souvenirs or delightful treats for yourself.

Address: Jogiwara Rd, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Phone: 098763 77000


Dharamshala International Film Festival: A celebration of cinematic arts, this festival attracts filmmakers and enthusiasts from around the globe. The event features independent films, discussions, and interactions with filmmakers, creating a vibrant atmosphere for cinephiles.

NAAM Art Gallery: Nestled in the deodar woods, this gallery showcases contemporary and traditional Himachali art. Founded by Elizabeth Buschmann, a German painter who made Dharamshala her home, the gallery provides a platform for local artists to exhibit their works.

Address: Chamunda Main Road, Sidhbari, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176057

Hours: 10 am to 5:30 pm, Monday closed

Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts
Tibetan Institute of Performing Artstipa_dharamshala/Instagram

Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA): Located in McLeod Ganj, TIPA is dedicated to preserving and promoting Tibetan performing arts. The institute organizes cultural performances, including traditional Tibetan opera, dances, and music, offering visitors a unique cultural experience.

Address: Dharamkot Rd, P.O, McLeod Ganj, McLeodganj, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Hours: Monday to Friday- 9 am to 5 pm


Triund Trek: A trek to Triund is a must for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. The trail winds through lush forests and offers breathtaking views of the Dhauladhar range. Camping at Triund under the starlit sky is an experience to cherish.

Paragliding at Bir Billing: Bir Billing, which is nearly 70 km from Dharamshala, is renowned as the paragliding capital of India. Soar through the skies and witness the beauty of the landscape from a bird's eye view. The thrill of paragliding combined with panoramic vistas makes it an unforgettable adventure.

The view of the Kareri Lake
The view of the Kareri Lakekarerilaketrek/Instagram

Camping at Kareri Lake: For a peaceful retreat amidst nature, camping at Kareri Lake is an ideal choice. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the lake offers a serene setting for camping and connecting with the tranquillity of the Himalayas.


Mcleodganj Market: This bustling market is a treasure trove of Tibetan handicrafts, prayer flags, and locally made jewellery. Shops line the streets, offering a vibrant mix of colours and cultural artefacts.

Kotwali Bazaar: Dive into the local market scene at Kotwali Bazaar. You can find traditional Himachali shawls, handicrafts, and local spices here. The market buzzes with activity, providing a glimpse into the local way of life.

Bhagsu Market: A haven for bohemian souls, Bhagsu Market offers a unique shopping experience. From hippie culture-inspired clothing to accessories and vibrant trinkets, the market reflects the eclectic vibe of the region.

A lively market street in Dharamshala
A lively market street in DharamshalaShutterstock


Dal Lake: Surrounded by Deodar trees, Dal Lake is a serene waterbody near McLeod Ganj. The peaceful ambience and stunning reflections of the surrounding hills make it an ideal spot for a stroll or a quiet boat ride.

Bhagsu Nag Waterfall: A short hike from Bhagsu Nag, this waterfall is a majestic sight during the monsoon season. The cascading waters amidst lush greenery create a tranquil setting for nature enthusiasts.

Dal Lake is a serene waterbody near McLeod Ganj
Dal Lake is a serene waterbody near McLeod GanjShutterstock

Dharamkot: A quiet village near McLeod Ganj, Dharamkot offers panoramic views of the Dhauladhar range. The village is an ideal starting point for short treks and provides a peaceful escape from the bustling town below.


Tushita Meditation Centre: Set amidst the serene surroundings of Dharamkot, Tushita Meditation Centre offers courses and retreats on meditation and Buddhist philosophy. The peaceful environment and expert guidance provide a transformative experience.

Address: McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Hours: 9:30–11:30 am, 12:30–4 pm, Sunday closed

Phone: 089881 60988

Bhagsunag Temple and Waterfall: The Bhagsunag area is not only known for its historical temple but also for the soothing Bhagsu waterfall nearby. The sound of cascading water and the spiritual aura make it an ideal place for meditation and relaxation.

Address: 68WM+J26 to waterfall, Bhagsu Nag, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre: Embrace the art of yoga in the lap of the Himalayas at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre. Experienced instructors guide participants through various yoga practices, fostering physical and mental well-being.

Address: Dharamkot, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Hours: 9 am to 6 pm


Dharamshala Cricket Stadium: Set against the backdrop of the Dhauladhar range, the Dharamshala Cricket Stadium is one of the highest stadiums in the world. Catching a live cricket match here is a unique experience, combining sports enthusiasm with breathtaking views.

Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
Dharamshala Cricket StadiumShutterstock

Cafes with Live Music: Numerous cafes in McLeod Ganj host live music performances, creating a vibrant atmosphere. From local artists to international acts, these cafes provide a platform for music lovers to unwind and enjoy diverse musical genres.

Tibetan Opera at Norbulingka Institute: The Norbulingka Institute hosts traditional Tibetan opera performances. Visitors can witness the vibrant costumes, intricate dance moves, and melodic tunes, offering a unique cultural experience.



The Pavilion

This luxurious hotel offers a blend of colonial charm and modern amenities. Set amidst lush gardens, it provides a tranquil retreat with views of the Dhauladhar range.

Address: 50, Shiv Vihar Rd, Ram Nagar, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176215

Fortune Park Moksha

Nestled in the lap of nature, this upscale hotel offers panoramic views and world-class facilities, ensuring a luxurious stay.

Address: Strawberry Hills, Satobari, near Dal Lake, Satovari, Mcleod Ganj, Dharamshala, Bhatala, Himachal Pradesh 176216

Phone: 0189 224 2424

The Pavilion
The Paviliontrekkerscorner/Instagram


Hotel Pink White

A budget-friendly option with clean and comfortable rooms located in the heart of McLeod Ganj.

Address: Bhagsunag Rd, near Vaishno Mata Mandir, Bhagsu Nag, McLeod Ganj, Mcleodganj, Himachal Pradesh 176219

Hotel Inclover

Situated near the main market, Hotel Inclover provides affordable accommodation without compromising on comfort.

Address: Khaniyara road, Kotwali bazaar, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176215


Norling House

Experience local hospitality at Norling House, a charming homestay in the serene Dharamkot village.

Address: Norbulingka Insitute, PO, Sidhpur, Mohli Lahrandi, Himachal Pradesh 176057

Phone: 089881 59349

Backpacker's Inn

Catering to backpackers and budget travellers, this homestay in Bhagsu Nag offers a cosy atmosphere and personalized service.

Address: 68PG+RHQ, Jogiwara Rd, near yongling school, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219


Rakkh Resort

A wellness retreat set amid nature, Rakkh Resort offers a holistic experience with spa treatments, yoga sessions, and wellness programs.

Address: Post Office, Gamrotha, Balla, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh 176059

Phone: 084483 41200

Getting There

Various transportation options are available to reach Dharamshala. If travelling by air, the nearest airport is Gaggal Airport, which is approximately 13 kilometres away and has direct flights from major Indian cities. Alternatively, the Pathankot Railway Station is the closest railhead, around 85 kilometres from Dharamshala, offering a picturesque train journey. For those preferring road travel, well-maintained highways connect Dharamshala to nearby cities like Delhi and Chandigarh, making it accessible by bus or private car.

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