Dharamshala, also known as the Scotland of India, is one of the hill station which was established by the British between 1815 and 1847. This hill station is situated in the northern state of the Himachal Pradesh. Dharamshala is the district headquarters of Kangra district. This hill station lies on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 18 kms. north east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snow line is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill resort and it is possible to trek to snow point after an early morning’s start. Dharamshala offers great variations in altitudes, temperature and character, due to which it is a favourite destination among various tourists. In 1905, tragedy struck Dharamshala when an earthquake levelled it completely. After its reconstruction, Dharamshala flourished as a quiet health resort. The city of Dharamshala is divided into two different parts. One of the part is the Lower Dharamshala which consists of the Kotwali Bazaar and areas further down the valley. The other part is the Upper Dharamshala which comprises of the McLeodganj, Forsythe Ganj and surrounding areas. Since 1960, when it became a temporary headquarters of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Dharamshala has risen to international fame as “The Little Lhasa in India”.
- DAL LAKE
- ST. JOHN CHURCH
- TSUGLAG KHANG (DALAI LAMA’S TEMPLE COMPLEX)
- TIBET MUSEUM
- BHAGSU WATERFALL
- KANGRA FORT
- MASROOR ROCK TEMPLE
Dal Lake is surrounded by deep Deodhar forests and is situated approximately 11 km from Dharamshala. This lake is an ideal base camp for trekkers coming from McLeodganj. During the month of September, an annual fair is organised on the banks of Dal Lake, where tourists take dip in the holy water. It is believed that dip in the holy Dal Lake removes all the miseries and will be blessed by Lord Shiva.
This lake is located in the Kangra District and is situated at a height of 1,775 m above the sea level. It is a brownish looking lake lying on the main road to Naddi and Strawberry hills.
St. John Church in Dharamshala is also known as St. John Church in Wilderness. It is an Anglican Church which is dedicated to Saint John. This church was constructed in the year 1852, situated at Forsyth Ganj. It is built in Neo-Gothic architectural style and features Belgian stained-glass windows that were donated by Lady Elgin (Mary Louisa Lambton), wife of Lord Elgin.
In 1905 an earthquake destroyed the bell tower of this church. A new bell was built by Stainbank and Mears in 1915, which was brought from England. The Gaggal Airport and Pathankot Railway Station are situated close to this ancient church.
Tsuglag Khang, The Dalai Lama’s temple complex, is the life-blood of the village. Located a short walk away from the bus station at the center of town, the complex houses the Namgyal Monastery (which trains monks for rituals associated with the temple), the main temple and a smaller shrine that houses a huge gilded statue of the Buddha, along with two smaller, but no less impressive statues of Chenresig and Guru Rinpoche. In addition, the Dalai Lama’s residence and administrative offices are in the complex. The temple complex is always busy. Services are held daily and are attended by lamas, monks, nuns and lay people. Visitors are welcome to observe, but remember to remove your shoes and walk clockwise around the temple and past the chorten (prayer wheels) before sitting down. In the shrine, you might come across a group of monks building an intricate sand mandala, and outside on Thursdays, groups of monks are scattered around the grounds practicing their debating techniques–an entertaining and thought-provoking ritual worth catching. Around the temple complex there is a long meditation trail with small shrines, stupas and a massive chorten. The shrines near the chorten are always covered in thousands of prayer flags placed by pilgrims to the Dalai Lama’s home, which stands above and behind it.
Opposite Tsuglagkhang a small but interesting museum on the history of Tibet and its people.
BHAGSU NAG TEMPLE
Bhagsu nag Temple is one of the popular ancient temples, which is located at about 3 km east of the main city of McLeodganj and around 11 km from Dharamshala. It is surrounded by the famous Bhagsu Falls and is considered to be a popular place of Hindu pilgrimage. An annual fair is conducted in the month of September at this temple which attracts tourist from across the globe.
Bhagsu Waterfall is situated at Bhagsu . It lies behind the famous Bhagsunath Temple. During monsoons the fall turns into a glorious 30 ft cascade. The mountain side of the fall is decorated with stylish slate graffiti. It is an ideal spot for picnics and recreation.
The historic fort of Kangra was built by Bhuma Chand. This fort had been the centre of attraction for the rulers of northern India, since a long time. The first attack on the fort was made by the Raja of Kashmir ‘Shreshtha’ in 470 A.D. In 1846 Kangra fort fell into the hands of the British. Kangra fort is located on the bank of the river Banganga at the height of 350 feet. In the foreyard of the fort are the temple of ‘Laxmi Narayan’ and ‘Adinath’ located in the Kangra fort is dedicated to Jainism. Inside the fort are two ponds one of them is called ‘Kapur Sagar’. At present the fort is under the control of ‘Archaeological Survey of India’. It was badly damaged in 1905 earthquake.
Counted among the magnificent rock cut temples of India, the beautiful Masroor Temple is situated 40 km from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. The temple is a unique monolithic structure and is also one of the most unexplored temples in Himachal Pradesh.
Situated at a height of 2535 ft above sea-level, the protected beautiful monument is believed to have been erected between the sixth and the eighth century. There are 15 rock-cut temples richly carved and built in the Indo-Aryan style.
The temples, partly in ruins, were conceived in the same manner as the great temples of Kailashnath Temple at Ellora in Maharashtra and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu with which it bears a striking similarity. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita.
The main shrine of the temple complex contains three stone images of Ram, Lakshman and Sita. The temple complex is located on a hill and also has a large rectangular pond which remains filled with water throughout the year. From the temple premises, you can get an amazing view of the snow-clad Dhauladhar ranges.
In the centre of the complex stands the principal and most elaborately carved shrine – the Thakurdwara. It enshrines black stone images of Ram, Lakshman and Sita facing east.
The entire theme of the temple carvings revolve around the festivity and coronation of Lord Shiva who is the centre of the Hindu pantheon. The temple complex is believed to have been built by an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Locals believe that the Pandavas built the Masroor Rock Temple during their period of exile.