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Dharamsala

Home to the Tibetan Government in Exile

Mcloud Gunj

Mcloud Gunj
By Alex Becherer

Located in northern India, Dharamsala (also spelt as Dharamshala) is the winter seat of the regional government and district headquarters of the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.

However Dharamshala is best known as the home to the current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. It is also an important centre for Buddhist study and home to the exiled Tibetan government. Most Buddhist and Tibetan activity is centred at McLeod Ganj, a village within the Dharamshala municipality.

Dharamsala sits at an altitude of 1,250 to 1,982 metres, it can be very hot in summer with snow and light frosts possible in winter. The Monsoon season is July to September making an umbrella an essential accessory.

Transport

There is an airport about eighteen kilometers from lower Dharamsala connecting to Delhi, Pathankot, Kullu, Shimla. Dharamsala can also be reached by an overnight or day bus from Delhi, which takes about twelve to fourteen hours. The most comfortable method is a twelve-hour train trip from Delhi to Pathankot and then a four hour bus, or three-hour taxi ride to Dharamsala. From there buses and taxis regularly shuttle people to McLeod Ganj.

Accommodation

There are a number of budget hotels most which have communal bathrooms with running cold water while the medium priced hotels have en-suite bathrooms with hot and cold running water though nothing is 100% reliable.

Trekking

Dharamsala is a starting point to a number of trekking trails that especially lead trekkers across Dhauladhar into the upper Ravi Valley and Chamba district. En route, you cross through forests of deodar, pine, oak and rhododendron, and pass streams and rivers and wind along vertiginous cliff tracks, and also the occasional lake waterfall and glacier (beware of bears).

A 2-km amble takes one to Bhagsu, and then a further 3-km walk will lead the trekkers to Dharamkot. If one wishes to go on a longer walk then he/she can trek 8-km to Triund. The snow line of Ilaqa Got is just a 5-km walk.

Popular trails from Dharamsala are:

Toral Pass (4575m) which begins from Tang Narwana (1150m) that is located nearly 10 km from Dharamsala
Bhimghasutri Pass (4580m) via near-vertical rocky ascents, steep cliffs and dangerous gorges. This is a highly difficult level trek and takes around six days to complete.
Dharamshala—Bleni Pass (3710m) – Dunali. Compared to other trekking trails, this one is much easier and takes around four or five-days to complete. The trek leads you through alpine pastures, woods, and streams, before ending at Dunali, on the Chamba road.
There are many rock climbing sites on the nearby Dhauladhar range.

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