Dharamshala and McLeodganj
Dharamshala can be easily accessed Pathankot (85 Kms) or Chandigarh (275 Kms). One can opt for a luxury bus or drive from Delhi. It a 11-12 hrs drive covering 481 kms from Delhi. Nearest airport is at Gaggal, 13 kms away. Dharamshala has a picture post card look with the majestic snow capped Dauladhar ranges as its backdrop. All cricket enthusiasts will remember seeing this view during the cricket matches aired from the Dharamshala cricket stadium.
In Dharamshala, our first visit was to the Chamunda Devi temple, ancient but well kept. There was a huge crowd as it happened to be the”Karwa-chauth” day. All ladies resplendent in their new clothes and jewelry with their prayer ”thalis”.
Like most tourists, the hotel where we stayed was at McLeodganj. The headquarters of His Holiness The Dalai Lama are located at the monastry here. The Bhagsunag waterfall nearby seemed to a favourite spot among tourists. There is a well defined path with stone steps and railings to provide support while climbing up. You can enter the water at the base of the waterfall but the water is freezing cold. An ancient Rama temple was located nearby. There were also a few shops selling clothes, woolens and trinkets run by Indians.
The next morning we went to the Norbuling Monastery in Dharamshala which was a lovely 45 minutes drive from Mcleodganj. The beautiful monastry has an exquisite dolls museum which amazes one and all. Another monastery has a museum depicting the history of Tibet, the persecution and exile of its people.
The market area is another attraction of Dharamshala, mostly run by Tibetans. However the shop owners take a lot more interest when approached by foreigner rather than Indians. A 6 km drive on a narrow serpentine road from McLeodganj brought us to the serene Dal lake. This picturesque lake is situated in a valley surrounded by hills on three sides. It is a man-made lake and has boating facilities if the water levels are sufficient. There are 2 temples near the lake.
Driving further up from Dal lake you come to Naddi, which is situated at the top of a hill where the road ends. The sunset point here offers breath-taking views of the snow clad Dauladhar ranges and magnificent sunsets. Guides with mounted telescopes point out the various peaks and ranges for a small fee. You can also see numerous water-falls created by the melting snow, military camps high up in the hills and tiny villages down in the valley.
Carry heavy woolens when traveling to Dharamshala- Mcleodganj even in summer as it tends to get cold after sunset. The vistas of this township in Kangra are an example of the bounty that the nature has given to the mountains of Himachal Pradesh.