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Holidays for Soul - McLeodganj

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Spiritual Holidays - McLeodganj
| Places to see | Places Nearby | Places to Stay | How to Reach |

For someone who enjoys ruminating on long walks, gets a high being in middle of towering deodar trees, loves to introspect, and don’t mind smiling and whiling away his time chatting with saffron clad monks must visit McLeodganj. Upper Dharamsala as it is commonly called is a good place to go soul searching if that is what one has in mind. Others, less serious types can simply relax; sit at one of the many roof-top cafés, gulp down Tibetan fare and bask in the glory of the Dhauladar peaks or take a walk down to Dharamsala (lower) to explore the bustling market.

Dharamsala as the area in general is called is divided in two parts Lower Dharamsala (or simply Dharamsala) and Upper Dharamsala (also called McLeodganj), which has been renamed McLeodganj after the name of Sir David McLeod, a British Governor of the province. McLeodganj lies in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley.

Dharamsala as we know it today started to take shape in 1860, when the British administration shifted here from the Kangra Fort. Gradually a settlement came into being and we had Lower and Upper Dharamsala. Soon after independence, in 1959 to be precise, Dharamsala was to welcome a visitor from Tibet. His Holiness Dalai Lama with his followers was granted asylum by the Indian government and Upper Dharamsala also came to be known as Little Lahasa. Today Dalai Lama runs the Tibetan Government in exile from McLeodganj.

Places to see in McLeodganj
Dalai Lama Temple

Not a single place of tourist interest in McLeodganj is at a short walking distance except the Dalai Lama Temple, which is hardly 10 minutes walk from the main square. This in fact is the beauty of visiting McLeodganj, especially for those who love to take leisurely walks. A cab or an auto though is easily available to take you through the five main tourist attractions in McLeodganj and you’d be done in 3-5 hours. But the charm of travelling to McLeodganj is not in eating the whole pie in one go, rather in combing the place slowly, so the charm lingers on for a long time to come.

The Dalai Lama Temple or Namgyal Monastery is the nerve centre, which starts rustling up since early morning. In fact the best time to visit the temple is in the morning, when you can see monks praying and rotating the heavy prayer wheels. The temple overlooks the residence of the Dalai Lama.   

St. John Church

Church of St. John In The Wilderness is a 20 minutes leisurely walk from McLeodganj main square. It is an Anglican church that is located in the forest near Forsyth Gunj. The church was founded by the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin, in the year 1852. Constructed as per Neo-Gothic architectural style, St. John is known for its peaceful environs and Belgian stained glass windows. It is one of the peaceful areas in McLeodganj. Surrounded by towering deodar trees, the church has a cemetery close to it.

For those love picnicking can head to the Dal Lake, located some 4 km from McLeodganj.  It is around 14 km from Lower Dharamsala and forms the starting point of trekking in the region. An artificial lake encircled by fir trees offers a pleasant sight. Every year, in September, it plays host to a fair. One can enjoy boating on the lake. Just close to the lake is a temple.

Bhagsu Nag Temple

Bhagsu Nag Temple and Waterfall are other popular places of tourist interest in McLeodganj. A 20 minute walk will take one to the Bhagsu Nag Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has great historical significance. There is a small pool in front of the temple and one can take a dip in the pool. Just one and a half kilometer from the temple is the Bhagsu Nag Waterfall. One can have a bite or enjoy the nature with a hot cup of tea, as there are a few cafés close to the waterfall.

A lovely 9 km trek from McLeodganj will take you to Triund. The trek takes you across the quaint villages of Rakkar and Dharamkot. The jungles of rhododendrons and oaks that you pass on the way will help you explore the wildlife of the region. You may see a wild goat, black bear or a pig crossing your way. Don’t forget to visit Galu Devi temple, which falls on the way to Triund.

Places Nearby
Norbulingka Institute

Those interested in exploring Tibetan culture can head to Norbulingka Institute. As far as study of Tibetan arts and culture is concerned, it is counted amongst the leading institutes in the world. Kangra Museum in Lower Dharamsala is another good place to check out outside McLeodganj.

Adventure sport lovers and those interested in tea plantations can head to Palampur, 35 km away. Bir-Billing there is a famous attraction well known for hand gliding and para-gliding. Kangra town and its temples are hardly 18 km from Lower Dharamsala and can be a day trip from McLeodganj.

Dharmakot, 14 km ahead of McLeodganj is a favourite haunt for many, who seek peace and want to bye-pass the crowd at McLeodganj.

Mind Body & Soul
If you plan to opt for short term yoga, meditation and allied courses on your visit to McLeodganj, there are quite a few centres that help you do that. Himalayan Yoga Valley Centre on Jogibara Road is a good place to check. At Dhamma Shikhra Himachal Vipasana Centre in Dharmakot one can learn various techniques of meditation. Those interested in Reiki can visit Neoyoga Meditation & Reiki Centre in Bhagsunag.

Places to Stay

There are number of hotels in McLeodganj, which provide comfortable accommodation to tourists visiting there. HPTDC has two hotels – The Bhagsu and The Club House, which offer fine accommodation. Besides, McLeodganj has a number of guest houses and budget hotels, which are ideal for backpackers and budget travellers. Check hotels in McLeodganj

How to reach

By Air: Gaggal, 21 km away is the nearest airport.

By Rail: Chakki Bank, 96 km away is the nearest rail head. One can also get down at Pathankot Railway Station (85 km) and then take a bus or hire car to McLeodganj. Kangra Mandir Station on narrow gauge line is the nearest rail head, which is approximately 25 km from McLeodganj. The Kangra Valley Train that runs on the narrow gauge line goes up till Joginder Nagar. One can take the Kangra Valley Train to Joginder Nagar from Pathankot railway station and get down at Kangra Mandir station.

By Road:Regular state road transport buses to Dharamsala are available from Kashmere Gate ISBT in Delhi.
Check driving direction from Delhi to Rishikesh

Best Time to Go:Though McLeodganj can be visited throughout the year, the best time to go is from April to October. July sees a surge in tourists due to Dalai Lama's birthday.

About McLeodganj: McLeodganj Information & Fact File
Altitude 2000 meters
Summer 25 (Max) & 15 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Winter 18 (Max) & 0 (Min) Degrees Celsius
Best time to Go April – October
Monsoon July – September
Summer May –June
Winter November-February
Clothes Cottons in summer & heavy woolens in winter
Nearest Airport Gaggal, 23 km
Nearest Railway Station Chakki Bank (Broad gauge), Kangra Mandir (Narrow gauge)
Bus Station McLeodganj/Dharamsala
Hospital & Doctor

Dist. Hospital at Dharamsala (8 km) is fully equipped to handle medical emergencies.

Places to see Dalai Lama Temple, Dal Lake, Bhagsu Nag Temple and Water Fall, St. Johns Church …
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