Defining Dharamsala

Popularly known to be the home of Dalai Lama, Dharamsala is a city in the upper reaches of Kangra valley of Himchal Pradesh. It was relatively obscure in the early days of independence but now enjoys immense popularity among foreigners and students of Buddhism. Even though it now sees a lot of activity, Dharamsala is still a place of peace and tranquillity where natural beauty is abundant.

Being home to the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan government, Dharamsala shows significant Buddhist influence. The Tsuglagkhang Complex on Temple roadis the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet, and it has a large meditation hall containing some beautiful statues and thangkas, as well as a Kalachakra temple with beautiful murals. It is the monastery of the Dalai Lama, and is located just in front of his residence. On the basement level of the complex you will also find the Namgyal Cafe, which is run as a work-training centre for Tibetan youth. The Tibet museum is present opposite to this complex. It is a small but interesting museum on the history of Tibet and its people.

Another place of interest is Masroor which has fifteen exquisitely carved monolithic rock temples dating back to the 8th century that are similar to the ones at  Kailash temple at Ellora. In the sanctum of the main temple one can find images of Lord Ram and Goddesses Sita and Lakshmi. Other temples include Chamunda temple, Kunal Pathri temple and the Bhagsunag temple. The Bhagsunag temple has many beautiful waterfalls present behind it that make for a wonderful sight.

Cricket fans may be interested in visiting the Dharamsala Cricket Stadium. It serves as the home ground to the state cricket team and IPL team Kings XI Punjab. By the virtue of its natural backdrop of beautiful snow capped mountains that can be viewed all year long, it is possibly the most attractive cricket stadium in India.

If you wish to plan a picnic then Dharamkot may pique your interest. Around 14 kilometres from Dharamsala it is an ideal place for a picnic as it is situated in the Himalayan mountain range and has an amazing view of the surrounding area. Trekking and paragliding are some of the adventure activities that you could take part in.

A wide variety of Tibetan cuisines are available in Dharamsala. McLoedganj is a great place for eating as the town has numerous restaurants and street vendors making various price options available. Popular Tibetan cuisines include momos, thupka, thenthuk and Pocha. Momos are dumplings filled with meat or vegetable that can be either steamed or fried. Thupka is a hearty vegetable soup with vegetables or meat whereas thenthuk is basically thupka only but with handmade noodles. Pocha is a salty tea churned with butter.

Being located at high altitude, the climate of Dharamsala stays considerably cool. Summers may be the best time to visit as the temperature can dip below freezing during winter months.

This lovely calm city with soothing sights is a place you must visit.