Dharamshala an offbeat hill station located in the northern region in Himachal Pradesh is well known for its pristine beauty and for McLeodganj – the home for his holiness Dalali Lama. Dharamsala has been connected with both Hinduism and Buddhism for a long time now. Several thousand Tibetan exiles have settled in the town, and most live in Upper Dharamsala or McLeodganj, where they constructed monasteries, temples, schools and some of the most important Tibetan institutions in the world. In the year 1970, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, opened the library of Tibetan Works and Archives which houses over 80000 manuscripts and other important resources related to Tibetan history, politics and culture.
The town is also known as “Little Lhasa of Tibet”, after the Tibetan capital city, and has become an important tourist destination with many hotels and restaurants, creating a resurgence in tourism and commerce. While McLeodganj (upper Dharamshala) is perched at an altitude of 1750 meter, lower Dharamshala is a picturesque location with an altitude of 1400 meters.
10 important places to Visit in and around Dharamshala
- The Tsuglagkhang Temple complex, or the Dalai Lama Temple
- The Norbulingka Institute
- The library of Tibetan Works & Archives
- The Tibetan Museum
- St. John’s Church
- Bhagsu Nag Temple & Waterfall
- Tea estates of Palampur
- Baijnath Temple
- Masroor Temple
- HPCA Cricket Stadium
- Kangra Fort
Things to do in and around Dharamshala
Toy Train Ride: Pathankot is the nearest broad gauge railway terminal to Dharamshala. From Pathankot there is a narrow gauge railway line up to Kangra (94 km) and from here Dharamshala is 17 km by road. A trip on the Kangra toy train is a thrilling experience. It is an unmatched way to savour the beauty of the Kangra Valley.
At Joginder Nagar, Himachal Tourism offers a unique herbal package track in Himalayas which unfolds the ecstasy of Himalayan medicinal plants and creates awareness about depleting bio-resources. The Kangra toy train- linking Pathankot and Joginder Nagar gently meanders through a maze of hills and valleys, offering the travelers enchantingly scenic views of the Dhauladhar mountain range, green pastures and splendid valley.The grand spectacle of Kangra Valley begins unfolding after the train crosses Nurpur. Hillocks rise on both sides and as the train moves over the innumerable bridges built across meandering streams, the Dhauladhar begin to gain in prominence. Emerging through Daulatpur tunnel and past the ruins of the old Kangra fort, one is surprised by the change in the landscape.The Dhauladhar rise up 13,000 ft from the valley floor. The wide Kangra Valley, with its well-watered terraces, is simply superb. As the train inches on, the passengers adore the open countryside and the shining white peaks. An unmistakable pine scent fills the air and the track is suddenly fringed on both sides by the tea gardens of the Palampur region. The stretch between Baijnath (renowned for its ancient Shiva temple) and Joginder Nagar is the steepest. Here the train moves at a snail’s pace till it reaches the highest point on the track at Ahju. Not far from here are the popular para-gliding and hang-gliding sites of Bir and Billing.
Paragliding in Bir Billing: Bir, surrounded by tea gardens and an amphitheatre of low hills, is an ideal landing ground for para-gliders. Bir has Buddhist monasteries that are worth visiting and some fine Tibetan handicrafts produced here.
Billing, up in the hills 14 km from Bir with an arena of 200 km for high altitude and cross country flying, is one of the best aero sports sites in the country.This site is regarded as among the best in the world for Paragliding. Billing (2290 m) is the take-off site and Bir (1400 m) is the village at the landing site.The road distance between the two is 14 km. Bir is sheltered by the Dhauladhar mountains and the ridges behind keep rising to 3000 mtrs, 4000 mtrs, 5000 mtrs and one after the other so as pilot can fly at 4000 mtrs and still watch the mountains tower above. Bir is a beautiful village surrounded by tea gardens and spectacular scenery, whereas Billing offers unique opportunities for high altitude and cross country flying and flights of 180 kms have been achieved from here. The most important feature of this region is its weather. On bad weather days one can still fly 20-30 kms and on good days 100 kms is not difficult. October & November are the ideal months for flying in autumn and March to May i.e spring is also flyable but conditions are very strong in spring with thermals of 6-12 mtrs/sec and cloudbase of 4000 to 6000 mtrs. Palampur is 29 km and Baijnath is 13 km from Bir.
Trekking: 18 km from Dharamshala, Triund lies at the feet of the perpetually snow clad Dhauladhar at the height of 2975 m. The snow line starts at Ilaqa (3350 mtr), 5km from Triund. It is a popular picnic and trekking spot. The tracks from Rawa, Dal Lake, Dharamkot and Bhagsunag meet at a ridge known as Galu temple (2130 mtr) which has a small shrine and water point. After the snow nullah the trek rises abruptly waving through 22 curves making the ascent tiring and difficult. On the way one can spot numerous birds and wild animals.
Fishing and Angling in Barot: Barot is a popular picnic spot in District Mandi. The town offers a range of outdoor activities. There is a trout breeding centre where fish are released in the Uhl river. There is 30km section of the river which is excellent for angling.Barot also forms the gateway to the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary, which lies across the Uhl river. The sanctuary is home to local wildlife. Known only to the select band of angling aficionados and some intrepid trekkers, Barot has all the wonderful views, wild life, adventure and solitude that is rare to find.
Eco-Village Resort in Dharamshala
Although there are numerous hotels and resorts in Dharamshala where you can choose to stay as per your accommodation preference and hotel budget but Eco-Village resort is unique with its offering and provides you an experience like no other hotel or resort in the vicinity.
The property is located in the pristine village surroundings of Sidhpur and is in close proximity to Tibetan Centres like the Norbulingka Institute. The property offers three categories of rooms – superior, premium rooms and individual cottage rooms with all modern amenities like Wifi connectivity, in room tea/ coffee maker, multi-cuisine restaurant, open-air cafe, an organic farm, in-house bakery, boutique spa and also a gymnasium for fitness freaks.
Each of the contemporary furnished rooms has a sit-out/porch, where you can lounge with a hot cuppa, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and relax, while you look at the fine unobstructed view of beautiful & awe-inspiring snow-capped Dhauladhar mountain ranges. Generous space, and airy ambiance unravels gracious decor, coupled with superior comfort. Each of the rooms has a plush king-size bed that is custom-designed, so that you can just sink into your dream world, with the sound of the mountain stream flowing by slowly relaxing your senses. Interiors & furnishing is tastefully elegant, offering supreme quality and unsurpassed comfort.
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Thekkady is well recognized in the south Indian tourist circuit for its as wild life sanctuary and tiger reserve. It also has the largest spice plantation ares in Kerala, especially cardamom!
A short walk from Thekkady, and set amidst 100 acres of cardamom plantation, is a Plantation Villa – an architectural splendor, creatively dynamic … tranquil and inspiring. It is an illusion literally built on a rock. The house rests in the “chekuthanmala” (devils rock) valley with views from the house facing the hills all around. Legend has it that the huge rock was used by the hunters as a a safe refuge from the herd of wild elephants that raged the area. Built entirely out of chiseled rock from the region, the structure is unique in the facts that little cement was used to bond the building rocks together. Each rock was painstakingly templated on to the other. The wood (‘mullu venga’) that is used around the house is of a special variety and can with stand wet weather for years together.
A bridge connects the two portions of the house, an a stream flows under it – a beautiful experience during the rains. Nearby, there is the huge pond that serves as a storage tank for irrigating the plantation.
The Villa is now open for selective guests – a nature hide-out for all the discerning travelers who look for a serene and nature friendly environment when they feel like giving the outside world a miss.
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