Dharamshala Hill Station Tour Guide – Himachal Pradesh
Dharamsala over looks the plains and is surrounded by dense pine trees and Deodar forests. A nearby snowline with numerous streams and cool healthy atmosphere makes the surroundings very attractive. A busy bazaar town, Dharamsala has established itself as the travellers base camp, who come to explore the nearby mountains. The Kotwali Bazaar provides the entire colour and characteristic of a small town, which is mixed with the simple life style.
The colourful temple and Gompas, which reflect the culture of Tibet, adds attraction for the visitor. The Kangra museum gives an overview of the rich past of the region and on the other hand there are institutes that have been established to preserve the Tibetan art, cultures and traditions.
Today, Dharamsala has become the synonymous to the Tibetan government in exile and the home of Tibetan leader Dalai Lama. Even if the Tibetan community dominates the town, still it has retained the colonial lifestyle and British fervour.
PLACES TO SEE IN DHARAMSHALA:
St. John’S Church In Wilderness: 7-km upward from Dharamsala, between Forsyth Ganj and Mcleod Ganj lies the charming St. John’s Church. It was built in 1852 and is dressed in grey stone with some fine Belgian stained glass windows donated by Lady Elgin. The church is popularly known as the church of St. John in Wilderness.
Chamunda Devi Temple: Not far from Dharamsala is the famous temple of Chamunda Devi. It is an enchanting spot with glorious views of the mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahla forests. 15-km from Dharamshala a tiny village of Dadh on Palampur road is the famous temple dedicated to Goddess Chamunda Devi.
Maharana Pratap Sagar: Named in honour of the great patriot ‘Maharana Pratap’ (1572 – 97 AD), the Maharana Pratap Sagar was once known as the ‘Pong Dam Reservoir’. India knows the ‘Maharana’ as a man who struggled valiantly for his kingdom of ‘Mewar’-as for the principle of independence. In the words of the Chroniclers James Tod and William Crooke, “He spurned every overture that had submission for its basis”. Over the river Beas, the “Pong Dam” was completed in 1976. Its reservoir has an area of about 45,0000 hectares at maximum possible flooding – the level varies with every season and averages around 30,000 hectares. Over 2,000 villages with a population of over 85, people are lying along the wetland.
In 1983, the Sagar was declared a wildlife sanctuary and over 2,20 species of bird belonging to 54 families have been sighted over the waters and the fringing mud-banks-these include black – headed gulls, plovers, terns, ducks, water-fowl and egrets. The first sighting in the region of the red-necked grebe, was made at the Sagar. The wetland’s location at the head of the Indian plains has made it a suitable habitat and stopover for migratory birds that enter India from Central Asia. The land portion of the sanctuary has barking deer, sambar, wild borars, nilgai, leopards and claw-less others. Twenty-seven species and sub-species of fish belonging to six families have been recorded in the Sagar’s waters. Some of the important commercial varieties are – Labeo dero (Gid), Labeo rohita, Labeo Calbasu, Tor putitora (Mahsir), and Mystus seenghala (Singhara). Since 1976, fishing has been a major economic activity in the areas and today, this provides employment to some 1,500 fishermen and the annual catch is valued at over a corore rupees.
Norbulinka Institute: Just 4-kms from Dharamsala is Norbulinka. This place has heavy Japanese influence. The Norbulingka Institute of Tibetan Culture was founded by the Department of Religion and Culture to preserve and promote Tibetan art and culture in exile
Nurpur Fort: Orginally known as Dhameri, 66-km from Dharamsala and 24-km from Pathankot, Nurpur Fort was renamed by the Emperor Jehangir, son of the Great Moghul Jalal-Ud-Din Mohammad Akbar. The fort is now in its ruins, but still has some finely carved reliefs.
Tsug-Lag-Khang (Central Cathedral): Though a plain and utilitarian substitute for its far more splendid namesake in Lhasa, also known as the Jokhang, the Tsug-Lag-Khang is nevertheless fascinating and peaceful. Situated opposite the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsug-Lag-Khang is known to the local Indians as the Main Temple.
Andretta: Situated just 13-kms away from Palampur, lies this dwelling place of artist S.Sobha Singh. It houses a gallery of some of his major works and a pottery center.
Dall Lake: Surrounded by high and green Deodar trees is the lake, which fills a mountain bowl. Situated 11-kms away from the town, this lake is easily approachable by road and makes an enchanting and serene picnic spot.
Dharmkot: Just 11-km away from Dharamsala, located on the crest of a hill lie this attractive picnic spot, which presents a panoramic view of the Kangra valley and Dauladhar ranges.
Karanje: 37 kms from Mangalore on the road to Dharmasthala is the holy place of Karanje, well known for its medieval Shiva temple. Situated on a hill 1,500 ft high, it commands a panoramic view of the surrounding area.
Kunal Pathri: These are the rock temples from which the place derives its name. Kunal pathri is a 3 kms flat walk from Kotwali Bazaar.
Lord Elgin’s Memorial: After the honors of 1857, India’s First War of independence, Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India. Her Prime Minister, Lord Canning made the proclamation and the Governor General’s title was raised to that of Viceroy of India.
Moodabidri: Moodabidri, 23 kms from Venur described as Jaina Kashi, is known for the 18 bastis, the most famous of them being ‘Savira Kambada Basti’ (Basti with thousand pillars). Built in 1430 AD, this basti has beautiful monolith columns and priceless collection of jewel-studded metal images of Jain Tirthankaras.
Namgyal Monastery: In 1575 Sonam Gyatso, the Third Dalai Lama, officially founded a monastery, which later came to be known as Namgyal Dratsang (Victorious Monastery). Since its inception, the monastery has assisted the Dalai Lamas in their public religious activities for the welfare of Tibet.
Pong Lake Sanctuary: Pong Dam reservoir is 65-km from Panthankot and 115-km from Dharamsala on the Beas River. The Pong Dam Lake is significant for a wildlife sanctuary with wild life species like Nilgai, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Buar, Clawless Otter, and Leapord. The reservoir is developed on a large scale for promoting water sports for tourists.
Venur: Venur 30 kms from Dharamsala, is famous for the Gomateshwara statue built in 1605 AD by an Ajila Prince.
HOW TO REACH DHARAMSHALA:
By Air: Dharamsala can be approached by air from Delhi and the nearest Airport is at Gaggla, just 13-km away from the town.
By Rail: Pathankot is 85-km and is the nearest railhead for Dharamsala. Trains from all over the country make a stop over at Pathankot and from here it is a three-hour journey to Dharamsala.
By Road: From Manali too bus services are available to this place. One can drive from Delhi via Chandigarh, Kiratpur, Bilaspur and it’s an 8-hours journey. From Delhi and Shimla, luxury buses ply to Dharamsala.