Dharamshala city in Himachal Pradesh, India is in the upper heights of the Kangra valley with average altitude of 1,475 meters above sea level. The area consists of highly dense deodar cedar trees. Upper Dharamshala is known as McLeodganj and is also known as “Little Lhasa”with major strong hold of Tibetan refugees and is also the seat of the 14thDalai Lama of the Tibetan sect of Buddhism. People also call it as “Mcllo”.
McLeodganj has been named after a British governor of the province “Sir Ian McLeod”. It is popular tourist destination for both the Indians and foreigners due to the presence of Tibetan settlement, Ayurveda and Yoga centers, and its picturesque surroundings. Multi-coloured prayer flags can be seen festooning its streets. McLeodganj and Dharamshala has been welcoming seekers of spiritual bliss; providing a respite before the snow clad Dhauladhar range.
Nearest airport is Gaggal airport that is about 22 kms from McLeodganj. By road McLeodganj is 507 km NW of Delhi, it takes close to 11 hours to drive and reach here from Delhi.
The lifelines of McLeodGanj are its Temples; and two main streets that make up the beautiful market for tourists. Dalai Lama’s Temple or TsuglagKhang is one of the major tourist attraction where you can see people trying to meditate along with monks. Calmness permeate through winds and soaks you completely altogether.
Market is famous for its restaurants and cafes selling Tibetan,German, Italian, Japanese, Israeli, American, and endless flavours of Indianfood. Trek and Dine is one of the famous cafe situated near trekking track in Dharamkot. Tourist also find interesting the traditionally hand knit woollens, prayer flags, prayer bells, thangkas, masks, and incense sticks. Trekkers can find trekking gear at competitive prices. From main market, roads go towards Naddi, Dharamkot, Bhagsu Nag, and lower Dharamshala. Naddi has got picturesque views. There is a famous Sahajayoga Meditation Centre in Naddi that teaches meditation for free. Another meditation center known as Tushita is in Dharamkot and teaches Buddhist Meditation. There are few Ayurvedic, wellness, and Yoga centers in Naddi, Dharamkot, and Bhagsu Nag that takes care of the wellness seekers reaching here from different countries.
Norbulingka(Jewel Park) is Tibetan institute of art and culture in Sidhbari that is about 14 kms from McLeodganj. It’s an institute that preserves and promotes rich Tibetan culture. Thangkas are made that serves a visual aid to prayer and meditation. It has a Losel Doll Museum with about 160 crafted dolls displaying regional, ritual, religious, official, and theatrical costumes of Tibet.
Triund and Indradhar pass are one of the famous easy to moderate treks, and depending on route selection it can take 5 days of time to complete the entire route starting from McLeodganj to Triund, Triund to Lahesh cave, Lahesh cave to ChhataParao via Indradhar pass, Chhataparao to Kwarsi, and Kwarsi-Hilling and Choli.
April to June and August to November are the best timings to visit McLeodganj. July being the rainy season can be rejuvenating to see rain falling through dense Deodar Pine trees. One should visit McLeodganj and surrounding areas with complete schedule to enjoy each moment of their stay.