When you think of a break from your daily routine, the first thing that comes to your mind is a vacation amidst the mountains. India is blessed with a number of hill stations which provide picturesque views all around. the weather in these places is simply stunning and they make for great short trips. Himachal Pradesh is one state in India which is home to some of the most popular hill stations visited by tourists all year round.
While places like Shimla and Manali are hugely famous and thronged by tourists every year, there are others that are not very commercial and mostly attract backpackers and offbeat travellers looking for a unique and pleasant experience away from the crowds. One such place is Dharamsala.
Known for its Tibetan settlement and the monastery where His Holiness The Dalai Lama resides, Dharamsala is divided into two parts – lower Dharamsala and upper Dharamsala which is called Mcleod Ganj. Together, they make the best destination for a 5-day vacation. Here is a complete 5-day itinerary for those wishing to explore this beautiful and rejuvenating hill station in Himachal Pradesh.
Do not be on your urban time here. Understand that the point of taking a trip to Dharamsala is to relax and rejuvenate. Start your trip from Mcleod Ganj. Check in to your hotel and rest for a while before heading out. Visit one of the many cafes here (Tibetan Mandala Cafe on Monastery road is a good choice), sip some coffee, make acquaintance with some of the other travellers. Use this day to just get a feel of the ambiance of this wonderful hill station. Watch the light fade away and feel the air get cold as night approaches. End your day with a meal at Mc Lo, the hep restaurant on the main square.
The next day, start walking. Visit the famous Bhagsunag Falls which is about an hour’s walk from the main square. It also leads to the Bhagsunag temple which is worth a visit. Check out the trendy Shiva cafe nearby and spend some time enjoying the ambiance here. Come back to the main square and then head to the popular Naam Art Gallery in McLeod Ganj. The famous gallery has paintings by renowned artists Elsbeth Buschmann and AW Hallett. So popular is the work of these artists that the Himachal government too owns many of their paintings. Spend a couple of hours in this gallery before getting back to the market area. Walk around, sit at a cafe with a view and end the day on a relaxing note.
The following day, embark on a little trek to one of the best trekking delights of India. Yes, take the 3-hour trek to Triund in the morning. It is totally worth spending an entire day hanging around at Triund, watching the clouds cover up the mountains, witness a spectacular sunset. However, the best part of Triund is camping under the stars. You will see millions of stars including some shooting ones. The cold weather makes it an adventurous night stay in a tent. You can feed on paranthas and noodles at the local dhaba here. The night and the spectacular sunrise is something you will never forget.
Have breakfast and come down to McLeod Ganj. After a hot water bath, head down to Lower Dharamsala. Check out the amazing Norbulingka Institute of Tibetan Culture. Known to provide education and training to Tibetans, the institute is a great place to witness Tibetan culture as well as buy souvenirs like traditional clothes and art pieces. Check out the Losel Doll Museum which has the largest collection of Losel dolls in the world. You can also check out the HPCA cricket stadium which is located between the most picturesque surroundings. Get back to the main square and try out one of the several amazing Tibetan restaurants for dinner.
And then finally, there is the Namgyal monastery which is also known as the Dalai Lama’s temple. After Dalai Lama fled Tibet, he established this monastery to carry out his Tibetan practices and rituals. The monastery today manages an elderly home and temple and is the home of the Dalai Lama. It is a great place to witness Tibetan prayer sessions and also the culture of this region. Spend as many hours as you can in the monastery on your last day in order to soak in the spiritual ambiance. It is this feeling that will stay with you forever and will make you want to come back to Dharamsala again and again.