For many centuries, McLeodganj in Dharamshala has become the perfect place welcoming tired travellers. Dharamshala, or the rest house for the pilgrims, has consistently lived up to its name and continued to provide travellers with a place where they can relax and look for spiritual bliss. Overlooking the snow-clad peaks of Dhauladhar Range, surrounded by verdant landscapes, it provides a brief respite from hectic and fast-paced urban lives. The place is also a great temptation for the pilgrims coming here searching for peace and tranquillity. In the past four decades or so, this lovely hill station in Himachal Pradesh has reinvented itself and has become a destination instead of a halting station. Travellers are greeted by vibrant bazaars, brightly lit hotels with fake Lhasa rooftops, soaring deodar oaks, pines, and a cool breeze gently caressing their faces. This quaint town is divided into upper and lower towns and seems balanced atop the Himalayas. A mish-mash of cultures can be seen in Kashmiri and Tibetan curio shops, tandoori dhabas, places serving pizzas along with aloo chaat, American monks, Tibetan hippies, and more. Incredible temples, summer palaces, monasteries, etc., add to the mix and create a lovely ambiance. Nature has bestowed its choicest blessings on this hidden gem of Dharamshala. Idyllic landscapes, amazing weather, and stunning trekking trails make it a perfect place for nature lovers to lose themselves in the peaceful and stunning environs.
Best Time To Visit McLeodganj
McLeodganj experiences harsh winters from December to February. Many people find this time of the year challenging to explore the serene outdoors of this quaint town. Sometimes, the temperatures go below the freezing point, making it tough to venture outside. However, honeymooners and adventure enthusiasts love visiting the town during this period when the mountain tops are heavily laden with snow. Summers are pleasant and perfect to visit the Destination. Temperatures are neither too high nor too low. The best time to visit McLeodganj is from March to June. People can also plan a trip to McLeodganj in monsoons if they can brave lashing rains.
History of McLeodganj
McLeodganj enjoys a rich cultural, historical, and spiritual past. Discovered in the 1850s by the Lt. Governor of Punjab and Forsyth Ganj, David McLeod, McLeodganj was an obscure hill station in Himachal Pradesh. The place gradually became known when a cantonment after the Second Anglo-Sikh War and Civil Administration Settlement was set up. The inhabitation in the twin towns continued to grow, and by 1904, it became an important place from a trade and commerce point of view. In 1905, the town suffered a massive earthquake, killing more than 20,000 people and destroying major administrative buildings. The whole city came to a standstill. It took years of rehabilitation and construction work to bring the city back to its past glory. The administrative offices were shifted to lower, safer areas. McLeodganj is also famous as the residence of Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Guru. When the 14th Dalai Lama was exiled and took refuge in this city, its revival in the truest sense began. Tibetan influence can be clearly seen in this beautiful and serene hill station.
Places to Visit in McLeodganj
McLeodganj is all about peace, serenity, and tranquillity. Combined with spirituality, the place provides a perfect ambiance for nature lovers and spiritually-inclined people. Magnificent monasteries, temples, and other places of worship dotting the landscape add to its charm. Besides monks and tourists, it is also becoming a hub of hippies. The efforts of the Dalai Lama to bring the place back from ruins to what we see today are truly commendable. This stunningly beautiful destination has a lot to offer to the discerning travellers. Have a look at some of the best places to visit in McLeodganj that will give you a glimpse into nature’s marvels and spiritual heritage.
The elegant and unobtrusive two-storeyed temple, Tsuglagkhang is the residence of Dalai Lama. Considered as the nerve centre of McLeodganj, this temple and a private office boasts of a large square with the palace overlooking it. The Dalai Lama ensured sticking to his principles of bringing no harm or disturbance to the natural vegetation. He stays in a modest cottage surrounded by his flowers and cats. Not even a single tree was chopped to build this cottage. The temple stands tall on trunks of deodars and is supported by adjustable iron rings. The 9-ft tall gilded Buddha image from a lotus seat is the major attraction of the temple.
2. Dal Lake
Calm and serene, Dal Lake is another one of the many gems of McLeodganj. Surrounded by rugged mountains and emerald green forests, the vast expanse of this lake will leave you stunned with its breathtaking beauty. There is a Shiva Temple on the banks of Dal Lake which attracts a large number of devotees. A fair is organised in the month of September. People from Gaddi tribe and tourists visit the temple during this time to seek blessings from the Lord.
3. Namgyaima Stupa
The rows of colourful and loud prayer wheels are in complete contrast to the understated charmm of Tsuglagkhang. The market where the Stupa is located vibrates with the loud sounds of wheels moved by the pilgrims. One of the must-visit tourist places in Mcleodganj, the stupa stands as a memorial to Tibetan martyrs who lost their lives defending their homeland. The Stupa is built in a typical Indo-Tibetan style.
One of the best places to visit Dharamshala, Triund gives you a glimpse into rocky and undulating terrains and scenic landscapes. It is also the best place for ardent star gazers who can enjoy watching the star lit night sky while enjoying camping. It's a visual treat for nature lovers. Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy trekking at the famous Triund Trek and enjoy stunning views all around.
5. Church of St John in the Wilderness
As you start descending to Lower Dharamsala, you will come across a stone structure, standing alone surrounded by giant deodar pines. It is the famous Church of St John in the Wilderness. The highlight of the church is its exquisitely stained glass windows that depict John the Baptist with Jesus. Built in 1852, it was one of the early buildings constructed by Britishers and also one of the buildings that survived the 1905 earthquake. The Church brings a sense of peace and calm to the tired souls. Visiting this church is one of the best things to do in Dharamshala.
6. Bhagsu Falls
Known for its incredible beauty, Bhagsu Falls is one of the must-visit tourist attractions in McLeodganj. Paradisiacal scenery and verdant forests all around, cascading waterfalls and its melodious sounds will take your breath away. Located in Bhagsu, this waterfall attracts a lot of tourists who love taking a dip in the freezing waters, clicking pictures, and enjoying the piping hot local food in nearby cafes.
7. Tibetan Theatre
One of the major aspects of Tibetan culture, enjoy traditional opera at the famous Tibetan Theatre. Restored by the Dalai Lama, this performing art is still alive in McLeodganj. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts or TIPA has today become the centre of Tibetans’ social lives.
8. Nechung Monastery
It is a magnificent monastery and one of the major tourist attractions in McLeodganj. People love visiting this monastery and enjoy stunning views of Dhauladhar range. The monastery has its counterpart in Tibet.
9. Sunset Point
Enjoy stunning views of the sun setting at the horizon from the Sunset Point. As the amber coloured sun gently goes down behind the mighty Dhauladhar Range, the whole surroundings are bathed in its warm glow. The sight is worth capturing in your cameras to be cherished forever. The glimpses of the quaint Naddi village can also be seen from here- undoubtedly a perfect place for photography enthusiasts.
10. Bhagsunag Temple
One of the oldest temples in McLeodganj, Bhagsunag Temple is revered by Hindu and Gorkha community. There are two pools in the temple premises and the water of these pools is believed to have miraculous healing powers.
How to Reach McLeodganj
Stunning locales, verdant forests showcasing unique arboreal elegance, magnificent temples and monasteries, and tranquillity is what makes McLeodganj truly unique among hill stations in Himachal Pradesh. This idyllic town is well connected to all major cities in India as well as the world through various means of transportation. Here’s a detailed list of how you can reach McLeodganj through Air, Railways or road depending on your budget and time.
The Gaggal airport plies its services through all domestic Flights. You can easily travel to the city via air. From here, passengers can travel by road or train to reach McLeodganj. Cabs and taxis are available outside the airport to reach this idyllic town.
McLeodganj Railway Station is the nearest railway station that connects the city to the rest of India via an excellent network of train services. From the railway station, take a private taxi or bus to reach your destination.
The twin cities of McLeodganj and Dharamshala are well connected with other cities and states of India through well maintained national and state highways. The city enjoys amazing road connectivity with nearby cities in Himachal Pradesh and other states. You can also consider visiting McLeodganj by your own vehicle as roads here are pretty safe and well connected.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to McLeodganj
Ques 1. Why is McLeodganj so famous?
Ans 1. This quaint town is known for its scenic beauty, incredible temples and monasteries, vibrant bazaars, local cuisines, etc. The place is also known for serenity, peace, and tranquillity.
Ques 2. Which language is spoken in McLeodganj?
Ans 2. Hindi is the predominant language spoken in the city. English is also used in Government establishments.
Ques 3. Which is the best time to visit McLeodganj?
Ans 3. Summers are pleasant and perfect to visit the destination. Temperatures are neither too high nor too low. The best time to visit McLeodganj is from March to June. People can also plan a trip to McLeodganj in monsoons if they can brave lashing rains.
Ques 4. Which are the must-visit attractions in McLeodganj?
Ans 4. When visiting McLeodganj, some of the must-visit attractions are Bhagsu Falls, Tibetan Theater Church of St. James in the Wilderness, Tsuglagkhang, Masroor Temple, etc.
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