Dharamsala, in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley, is better known as the home in exile of the Dalai Lamba (in Mc Leodganj or Upper Dharamsala). Although there is a nine-kilometer difference between Dharamsala and Mc Leodganj, the later is still considered a suburb of the former. With prayer flag fluttering, Mc Leodganj is also known as Little Lhasa, spreading the message of peace and harmony. Dharamsala has largely come to be associated with the Tibetan government in exile and as a den for hippies who have come to prefer this small town over the overcrowded Manali. It serves as a stopover to go to Mc Leodganj, the Tibetan settlement near the town. Kotwali Bazar is the main area of the town, Lined with shops for essentials. This crowded bazaar offers little in terms of eating options or entertainments.
But Mc Leodganj, about 10 km away from the city centre, is where the activity is. The place bears a distinct ambience with Tibetan children running on the roads, Monks strolling in their robes and rows of shops displaying Tibetan wares from silver jewellery, imported goods, prayer wheels, gemstones, rosary beads and figurines of Tibetan gods. There are many cultural centres here to acquaint oneself with the Tibetan culture and many places where one can learn meditation.
Places of Interest
Mc Leodganj : Often called Little Lhasa, this is the residence of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-exile. At the monastery are larger–than-life images of the Buddha, Padmasambhave and Avalokiteswara. The larger Tibetan community and the presence of traditional architectural designs drawn from Tibet add to its character. From the second Saturday of April every year, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts organises a 10 day festival. Various groups from around the world, particularly the Far East and South–East Asia visit Mc Leodganj periodically to conduct seminars and teaching, so whenever you go, there will almost always be some discussion taking place. Of course when the Dalai Lama is in Mc Leodganj, it is nearly impossible to get a room here and you will have to make do with accommodation in Lower Dharamsala.
Dal Lake : 11 km away, you can drive up to this lake, an enchanting picnic spot fringed by deodar trees.
St. John's Church : 08 km away, located between Forsythganj and Mc Leodganj, this charming dress stone church of St.John's in the Wilderness.
Bhagsunath : 11 km away, this temple near the freshwater spring is a popular picnic spot. The famous slate quarries are close by.