How to reach Dharamshala, where to stay cheaply, what to see and do in Dharamshala and the food scenario in Dharamshala.
In my house and in thousands of homes in India where the Indian cricket star Dhoni is nearly a cult, Dharamshala is known as Dhoni’s favorite city. It is because in Dharamshala, he played a dream seminal innings in IPL cricket tournament almost 9 years ago.
When I watched that cricket match with avid interest, screaming whenever Dhoni incredibly hit a powerful and extraordinary shot, I wondered where this beautiful Himalayan hill station was and why I never heard of it thus far.
Two days ago, when a T20 cricket match between India and South Africa was abandoned in Dharamshala due to incessant rain, I again longed for that quaint hill station where all the population seems to be present in the cricket stadium.
Yesterday, I found time to virtually visit the beautiful Dharamsala. I am sharing with you my research on Dharamshala hill station in an easy to find answers to your questions such as:
- Where Dharamshala is?
- How to reach Dharamshala
- Where to stay in Dharamshala-hotels, expensive resorts, Homestay options, cheap accommodation for backpackers etc
- What to see and do in Dharamshala
- The best local specialty is in restaurants and street food stalls
- What gift items can you buy in Dharamshala hill station
Dharamshala hill station-where it is located?
Dharamshala is a city (more of a large town than the size and facilities of a city) located in Himachal Pradesh, India.
As you can see from the image above, Dharamshala is a hill station. You can see the backdrop of the Himalayan hills and the town is full of a wonderfully dense forest full of Cedar trees, coniferous forests, alpine grasslands, and the unmistakable giant oak, birch and fir trees.
Don’t forget to spot the beautiful tree named Pink Rhododendron. You cannot miss it; the bloom will attract your eyesight instantly.
It is locally called ‘Gulabi Buransh’ and is also the state flower of Himachal Pradesh.
The place is also so full of wildflowers and medicinal herbs thus attracting tourists with diverse interests.
Overall, Dharamshala hill station is one of the true identities of Himalayan holiday destinations.
How to reach Dharamshala?
When I first came to know Dharamshala is located in the Himachal Pradesh state of India, I wondered where exactly it is in Himachal Pradesh state as it is a big state.
I knew of several other hill stations in Himachal Pradesh that include:
- Kullu Valley
- Mcleod Ganj
- Spiti Valley
So, where exactly is Dharamshala? Which is the nearest famous hill station?
For road travel buffs, one can start from New Delhi city by car. Dharamshala is about 480 km away.
Alternatively, you can reach Shimla first and then travel by car. The distance between Shimla and Dharamshala is 275 km!
The nearest airport is at Gaggal, a small town in Himachal Pradesh. It is 15 away from Dharamshala hill station.
Those who can cover the major distance by train due to low cost, their destination should be Pathankot railway station which is located nearly 480 km from Delhi and 230 km Chandigarh city.
Once you reach Pathankot railway station, you have covered the majority of the distance. The remaining 90 km to Dharamshala can be covered by a bus or a taxi in about 3 hours.
Best time to visit Dharamshala hill station.
Now, it is time to plan your visit. If you are a seasoned traveler, you would not mind going anytime, anywhere. However, for normal tourist who always takes his family including the children, it is better to avoid rain and snow-right?
Even snow can be attractive but certainly not the rains that would make us get arrested in our hotel room. Do you agree with me?
Therefore, the ideal time to go to Himachal Pradesh hill stations is from April to June end.
Hotels, Resorts, House Guests Options in and Around:
In the last decade or so, ever since Dhoni played historic cricket innings in Dharamshala, it has gained in popularity paving way for infrastructural developments.
Big hotels and holiday luxury resorts have come up in Dharamshala. It is not that they were not before but now, you can get all the luxurious modern-day amenities and facilities in the Dharamshala hotels.
Of late, local residents have started offering tourists as paying guests. Therefore, one can also search for Homestay offers but they tend to get filled up fast during tourist season.
Popular hotels aggregator Makeuptrp offers several Homestay options that include Varada Homestay, Anandam Homestay, and Yahvi Homestay.
If you are a budget backpacker, you should search for cheap and affordable paying guest offers with home-cooked food in Airbnb and goibibo
For those who can afford any price above Rs.2500 per night, the options are abundant.
Another super comfortable staying option in Dharamshala is guesthouses and cottages in privately owned tea gardens that take in guests. The price would be around Rs.7500 per night inclusive tea and food.
If I were to tour Dharamshala, I would first inquire about the availability of any guided wildlife tour, especially in the hill station, where the avifauna range can be exciting to spot.
Dharamshala’s wildlife include:
- Western Tragopan
- Monal Pheasant
OMG! What a beautiful bird! It is the state bird of Himachal Pradesh.
- Ghoral deer
- Musk deer
- Himalayan Thar
Places to see in Dharamshala:
Well, any hill station has so much to see. If you are a real mountain explorer, especially a Himalayan hill town, you would find numerous hidden beauties in places, shrubs, rocky corners, dense shoals, and lakefronts.
In addition to local tourist attractions, other small but absolutely peaceful hill stations near Dharamshala is the Britishers’ favorite McLeod Ganj which is only 8 km away.
Sightseeing places in and around The City:
- Bhagsunag waterfall
- The cricket stadium-it is said to be the highest cricket stadium in the world
- Namgyal Monastery-being the capital of Tibetan Buddhist leader Dalai Lama, there are several Buddhist monasteries in Dharamshala. Dalai Lama himself lives in this monastery.
- Kangra Fort
- St. John church
- Kareri Lake
- Mann Tea Estate
Things to do:
- Trekking-trekking through several trails in the forest-surrounded Himalayas is an exhilarating experience.
Of all the trekking trails, Triund trek is the most trodden one.
- Trekking in the Total Pass at the height of a whopping 15,000 feet!
- Bhimghasutri Pass at the same altitude poses a real challenge to the experienced trekkers.
- Bleni pass at over 12300 feet seems to be a much easier trekking trail.
Eating in Dharamshala
Street food is the best option in Dharamshala where the influence of Tibetan cuisine is predominant.
Hot stuffed momos (dumplings) stalls are ubiquitous. Varieties of chaats are sold including a mixture of Himalayan fruit chaat that is sweet, tangy, and spicy.
Taste several flavors of locally grown tea. To accompany your tea, buy fluffy pastries.
Chinese restaurants give you a different culinary experience.
Shopping areas and marketplaces in Dharamshala:
Almost all the hill stations sport a lively marketplace in the city center only where the local bus stand is located and also all the cheap lodges and hotels are found.
Dharamshala is no exception as all shops are located near the main market. Apart from that, ask around for Kotwali Bazaar where you can buy Tibetan handicrafts that include woolen shawls, sweaters, scarves, and wooden toys.
If you don’t find anything expensive in the city market, go to Maximus Mall where you will see several food stalls and coffee shops.
Do not forget to buy the local Himalayan tea.
This is the end of Dharamshala hill station travel guide.