Near the Dhauladhar Mountains in the Kangra Valley, stands the sanctuary of Dharamshala, flanked by tall deodars and crisp mountain air. McLeod Ganj or 'Little Lhasa' is its most famous suburb since it became home to the Tenzin Gyatso (the 14th Dalai Lama) and the Tibetan exile administration.
Today, Tibetan exiles have built numerous temples, monasteries and schools which has promoted tourism in the region.
Dharamshala was once ruled by the world's oldest serving royal families- Kangra's Katoch Dynasty. In fact, you can stop by their residence called 'Clouds End Villa', during your vacation in India. The Gaddis were a Hindu indigenous group who lived in the region but maintained a nomadic lifestyle. Later, this land was occupied by the British Raj and became home to the Gurkhas who were considered the bravest men in the land.
Things to do
There's plenty to do in Dharamshala if you've chosen this location as part of your north India tour. You can start with a visit to the main monastery and try to catch a glimpse of the Dalai Lama. You can visit Masrur, Bhagsu waterfalls, Chamunda and Kunal Pathri temple and the Bhagsunag temple.
If you're in McLeod Ganj, then you can trek down to Dal Lake and enjoy the annual fair at the Kali temple. For a leisurely picnic, you can head to Naddi and trek to Guna Devi, Triund and Kareri Lake. During these treks, you can always sleep over in small caves which are used by the local goat herds for shelter from the rain.
Shopping and Food
At McLeod Ganj, you can buy Amchi which is a local Tibetan ointment, traditional wool carpets, Himalaya herbal teas, prayer wheels, chuba which is the Tibetan dress and many other souvenirs. During your custom tours in India, don't forget to try out some traditional Tibetan fare from the street vendors. Try momos, thenthuk, thukpa and wash those down with some pocha which is a buttery salted tea.
If you fancy basking in the presence of the Dalai Lama himself or just want to enjoy the amazing Italian pizzas prepared by the local cafes, click here and lets get started.