Dora Bitsi

Dora Bitsi

Feb 06 2012

Finding Peace in Dharamsala

By Dora

Dharamsala is situated in the hills of Himachal Pradesh ,in North India just below Kasmir and next to the borders with Pakistan. It is famous  for its large Tibetan community centred around the activities of the Dalai Lama.
When we started our journey by bus from Amritsar heading towards Manali ,we had planned that Dharamsala would be only a small stop to our journey. However ,given the captivating beauty of the place (and also the exhausting 6hour trip in the very old and uncomfortable bus :p) we actually never made it to Manali and decided to stay as many days as we could in Dharamsala!
The place is currently (and since 1959) the residence of Dalai Lama and was given to the Tibetan Government that was and is in exile. It is actually divided in two distinct areas that are separated by a 10 min, 9 km bus or jeep ride. The Lower Dharamsala (which isn’t much of an interest) and the Upper ,most commonly called McLeod Ganj.
This is where we stayed. MacLeod  Ganj is a centre for Buddhism and meditation and a lot of backpackers find their paradise coming here! We met lots of foreigners who were staying there for 3 months or more having a break from the stress and hustle of their home countries. They were  doing all sorts of things like teaching yoga, volunteering or running small cafes and restaurants.
It may be said for MacLeod  Ganj that it has gone too crowded but for us it was a totally different experience .
During our short stay in Dharamsala we were basically blown away by the beauty and fierceness of the natural environment. From every point of the town we had the breathtaking view of snowcapped mountains on the one side and of the wide valley that was opening in front of us on the other side. The colourful prayer flags were hanging between trees in the slope of the mountain and the scenery was peaceful.The streets were full of cute tradditional woven clothes scarfs and hats , beautiful buddhistic drawings and objects.There were also nice notebooks from locally recycled paper that we bought for ourselves. Actually the Tibetan community have been crafting and selling all those things in order to earn a living . In fact, the whole city is very lively as you can see locals with traditional attires, monks with their red and orange clothes and visitors with their backpacks mingling in the streets and the restaurants. 
Speaking from the aspect of food, we were amazed at the quality we found there! We actually found a place where we had the best muesli of our lives (home-made with fresh fruits !)plus an amazing view of the mountain tops. Dharamsala is a good place to try Tibetan food like momos (meat dumplings) as well as world food.
There are also lots of places to choose to stay especially if you have a tight budget,we searched a lot to be honest to end up staying in a cute small monastery near the central road .The rooms were clean and the monks even though they didn’t speak much they were really kind and generous(it was funny to see them in the afternoon sitting around the tv and watching cricket!!hehe) 
It goes without saying that we also had to try at least one class of yoga since it is very famous there.…our class was in the afternoon on the top of a building having nothing but the sky above us. And although as it proved that not all of us were that flexible :P ,what we will never forget  is the serenity of the moment when you become so calm staring at the sunset ,hearing the eagles high above you and watching the mountains far away in the horizon.
One of the top things to do in MacLeod Ganj is hiking.There are a lot of trails into the pine woods and u can spend hours walking and meet joyful children and smiling local people on the street.

The most impressive is the one that leads to Bhagsu waterfall.It takes a lot of walking to get there,especially under the hot sun, but what you see compensates you in the end.It was summer when we visited the waterfall so there wasn’t much water and we could actually go down and swim in the small pools .The water was so cold but we enjoyed it!

What you definitely shouldn’t miss is the chance to visit the Tibetan children’s village and the Temple of Dalai Lama.The temple itself was so peaceful that we could have been sitting there for hours watching the sun setting down the hills and filling the sky with warm colours…


Dharamsala will always stay in our minds and hearts.

Check out more photos from India here

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One Response

  1. If you are in Dharamsala, there are many peace place in Dharamsala. There are Dal Lake, Church of St. John, McLeodganj, Hhagsunath, Kunal Pathri, Dharamkot, Triund, chinmaya tapovan, masrur, andretta, baijnath temple, chamunda mata temple, mata brajeshwari devi temple, dalai lama temple. Do you want visit these places visit:- Best Places to Visit in Dharamshala

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