Dharamshala (also Dharamsala) is a city and a municipal council in Kangra district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is the district headquarters. It was formerly known as Bhagsu. The Dalai Lama’s residence in McLeodGanj and the headquarters of Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government in exile) are in Dharamshala. Dharamshala is 18 kilometres from Kangra.
Dharamshala is a city in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and is surrounded by dense coniferous forest consisting mainly of stately Deodar cedar trees. The suburbs include McLeodGanj, Bhagsunath, Dharamkot, Naddi, ForsythGanj, Kotwali Bazaar (the main market), Kaccheri Adda (government offices such as the court, police, post, etc.), Dari, Ramnagar, Sidhpur, and Sidhbari (where the Karmapa is based).
The village of McLeodGanj, lying in the upper reaches, is known worldwide for the presence of the Dalai Lama. On 29 April 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) established the Tibetan exile administration in the north Indian hill station of Mussoorie. In May 1960, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was moved to Dharamshala.
Dharamshala is the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India. Following the 1959 Tibetan uprising there was an influx of Tibetan refugees who followed the 14th Dalai Lama. His presence and the Tibetan population has made Dharamshala a popular destination for Indian and foreign tourists, including students studying Tibet.
One of the main attractions of Dharamshala is Triund hill. Jewel of Dharamshala, Triund is one day trek at the upper reaches of McLeodGanj, about 9 km from McLeodGanj.
Dharamshala (Devanagari: धर्मशाला; ITRANS: Dharmashaalaa; IAST: Dharmaśālā) is a Hindi word (derived from Sanskrit) that is a compound of dharma (धर्म) and shālā (शाला). A loose translation into English would be ‘spiritual dwelling’ or, more loosely, ‘sanctuary’. Rendering a precise literal translation into English is problematic due to the vast and conceptually rich semantic field of the word dharma and the cultural aspect of India.
In common Hindi usage, the word dharamshala refers to a shelter or rest house for spiritual pilgrims. Traditionally, such dharamshalas (pilgrims’ rest houses) were commonly constructed near pilgrimage destinations (often in remote areas) to give visitors a place to sleep for the night. When the first permanent settlement was created in the place now called Dharamshala, there was one such pilgrims’ rest house on the site, and the settlement took its name from that dharamshala.
BEFORE THE RAJ
From the earliest times until the British Raj, Dharamshala and its surrounding area was ruled by the Katoch Dynasty of Kangra. The Katoch Dynasty is said to be the oldest serving Royal Family in the world. The Royal Family still keeps a residence in Dharamshala, known as ‘Clouds End Villa’.
The indigenous people of the Dharamshala area (and the surrounding region) are the Gaddis, a predominantly Hindu group who traditionally lived a nomadic or semi-nomadic (transhumant) lifestyle. Due to the lack of permanent settlements in the area, some Gaddis lost their seasonal pastures and farmland when the British and the Gurkhas arrived to settle.
SETTLESMENT BY THE BRITISH AND THE GURKHAS
In 1848, the area now known as Dharamshala was annexed by the British.
"Dharamsāla lies on a spur of the Dhaola Dhār, 16 miles north-east of Kāngra, in the midst of wild and picturesque scenery. It originally formed a subsidiary cantonment for the troops stationed at Kāngra, and was first occupied as a station in 1849, when a site was required for a cantonment to accommodate a Native regiment which was being raised in the District. A site was found upon the slopes of the Dhaola Dhār, in a plot of waste land, upon which stood an old Hindu resthouse, or dharmsāla, whence the name adopted for the new cantonment. The civil authorities, following the example of the regimental officers, and attracted by the advantages of climate and scenery, built themselves houses in the neighbourhood of the cantonment; and in 1855 the new station was formally recognised as the head-quarters of the [Kāngra] District."
In 1860, the 66th Gurkha Light Infantry was moved from Kangra, Himachal Pradesh to Dharamshala, which was at first made a subsidiary cantonment. An ideal position for the new base was found on the slopes of the Dhauladhar Hills, near the site of a Hindu sanctuary, or Dharamshala, hence the name of the town. The Battalion was later renamed the historic 1st Gurkha Rifles, this was the beginning of the legend of the Gurkhas, also known as the ‘Bravest of the Brave’. Consequently, fourteen Gurkha platoon villages grew from this settlement, and exist to this day, namely Dari, Ramnagar, Shyamnagar, Dal, Totarani, Khanyara, Sadher, Chaandmaari, Sallagarhi, Sidhbari, Yol, and so on. The Gurkhas worshipped at the ancient Shiva temple of Bhagsunag. The Gurkhas referred to Dharamshala as ‘Bhagsu’ and referred to themselves as Bhagsuwalas.
The 21st Gurkha Regiment from Dharamshala performed heroic feats during World War I and the North West Frontier Province campaigns. The Gurkha cantonment then reached its zenith during World War II, when battalions from Dharamshala made history. Many place names in the town still retain their former cantonment terminologies: Depot Bazaar, Pensioners’ Lines, Tirah Lines (named after the 19th century Tirah Campaign), Bharatpore Lines (named after the 1826 Battle of Bharatpore).
The second Lord Elgin, Viceroy of India died here (at the 1st Gurkha Rifles Officers’ Mess) in 1863 and is buried in the cemetery of St. John in the Wilderness, a small Anglican church distinguished by its stained-glass windows. Dharamshala became a popular hill station for the British working in or near Delhi, offering a cool respite during the hot summer months.
"Before the earthquake of 1905, the upper part of the station, which rises to a height of 2,168 metres, contained the European houses, the station church, and the officers’ mess and lines of the 1st Gurkhas, together with the public gardens, post office, and two bazars, the Forsythganj and McLeodganj. The public offices, a bazar, and a few European houses made up the lower station, as low as 1,372 metres. The 1st battalion of the 1st Gurkhas used to be stationed here, but was moved to the upper station in 1894-5…. The public gardens, which were, before the earthquake, laid out with much taste in lawns and terraces, contained a valuable collection of indigenous and imported trees and shrubs, and were overlooked by the Assembly Rooms, a handsome building comprising a public hall, a library and reading-room and a billiard-room. The church was beautifully situated in a recess of the mountain."
In 1905, the Kangra valley suffered a major earthquake. On April 4 of that year, the earth shook, demolishing much of the cantonment and the neighbouring city of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh as well as the Bhagsunag temple. Altogether, the 1905 Kangra earthquake killed 20,000 people. "1,625 persons perished at Dharamsāla alone, including 15 Europeans and 112 of the Gurkha garrison."
The Gurkhas rebuilt the town along with the temple, which today is acknowledged as the 1st Gurkha Rifles’ heritage. The British had planned to make Dharamshala the summer capital of India, but moved to Shimla after the disaster.
Not only did the Gurkhas of Dharmshala make a major contribution to India’s defence, many were freedom fighters for the Indian National Army, which had been founded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The Indian National Army Captain Ram Singh Thakur, a Gurkha from the village of Khanyara, composed some of India’s most popular and stirring patriotic songs, including "Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja". He is acknowledged so by the Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata. The important contribution of the noted Gurkha social commentator, the late Master Mitrasen Thapa, from the village of Totarani, has been acknowledged by the Himachal Pradesh government. Recently, a park dedicated to the memory of the late Brigadier Sher Jung Thapa, MVC, the ‘Hero of Skardu’, has been opened alongside the road between Lower and Upper Dharamshala.
ESTABLISHMENT OF TIBETAN EXILE COMMUNITY
The Tibetan settlement of Dharamshala began in 1959, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet and the Prime Minister of India allowed him and his followers to settle in McLeodGanj (in Upper Dharmshala), a former colonial British summer picnic spot. There they established the "government-in-exile" in 1960. Dharamshala had been connected with Hinduism and Buddhism for a long time, many monasteries having been established there in the past, by Tibetan immigrants in the 19th century. In 1970, The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, opened the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives which houses over 80,000 manuscripts and other important resources related to Tibetan history, politics and culture. It is considered one of the most important institutions for Tibetology in the world, the new director is Geshe Lahkdor, the old translator of H.H. the Dalai Lama.
Several thousand Tibetan exiles have now settled in the area, and most live in and around McLeodGanj in Upper Dharamshala, where they have built monasteries, temples and schools. McLeodGanj is sometimes known as ‘Little Lhasa", after the Tibetan capital city, or ‘Dhasa’ (a compound of ‘Dharamshala’ and ‘Lhasa’). It has become an important tourist destination with many hotels and restaurants, leading to growth in tourism and commerce.
Dharamshala is the winter capital of Himachal Pradesh. The Legislative Assembly is at Sidhbari, near the Chinmaya Tapovan Ashram, and the winter sessions of the Government are held there.
Dharamshala has an average elevation of 1457 metres, covering an area of almost 8.51 km².
Dharamsala is located in the Kangra Valley, in the shadow of the Dhauladhar mountains.
The city is divided into two distinct sections. Kotwali Bazaar and the surrounding markets are referred to as "Lower Dharamshala" or just "Dharamshala." Further up the mountain is McLeodGanj separated in between by the village of Ganchen Kyishong, the home of the Tibetan government-in-exile. A steep, narrow road connects McLeodGanj from Dharamshala and is only accessible to taxis and small cars, while a longer road winds around the valley for use by buses and trucks. McLeodGanj is surrounded by pine, Himalayan oak, and rhododendron.
The main crops grown in the valleys below are rice, wheat and tea.
Dharamshala town is reached by Gaggal Airport, (IATA: DHM, ICAO: VIGG), about 15 km to the town’s south and about 10 km north of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh town. To reach Dharamshala by train, one has to reach Kangra, Himachal Pradesh town by Kangra Valley Railway line from Pathankot 94 km away and then take a bus or a taxi.
Pathankot is a broad gauge railway head. There is another railway line from Pathankot to Jogindernagar, a part of the Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh, which is a narrow-gauge line. The nearest station to Dharamshala on this line is Chamunda Marg, half an hour away, where a Shaktipitha is; the town is well connected by road to other parts of the country.
Buses of all classes (deluxe, air-conditioned, and regular) drive daily between Dharamshala and major cities such as Chandigarh, Delhi, and Shimla. Several buses each night connect McLeodGanj with Majnu Ka Tila, the Tibetan settlement in Delhi.
Dharamshala has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Cwa). Summer starts in early April, peaks in early June (when temperatures can reach 36 °C) and last till mid-June. From July to mid-September is the monsoon season when up to 3000 mm of rainfall can be experienced, making Dharamshala one of the wettest places in the state. Autumn is mild and lasts from October to the end of November.
Autumn temperatures average around 16–17 °C. Winter starts in December and continues until late February. Snow and sleet are common during the winter in upper Dharamshala (including McLeodganj, Bhagsu Nag and Naddi). Lower Dharamshala receives little solid precipitation except hail. The snowfall of January 7, 2012 was an exception. It was caused by deep low pressure entering the Kangra district. Winter is followed by a short, pleasant spring until April. Historically, the Dhauladhar mountains used to remain snow-covered all year long, however, in recent years they have been losing their snow blanket during dry spells.
The best times to visit are the autumn and spring months.
Dharamshala 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 the occasional lake waterfall and glacier.
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.
Other trekking trails that lead you to Chamba from Dharamshala are:
Toral Pass (4575m) which begins from Tang Narwana (1150m) that is nearly 10 km from Dharamshala
Across 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.
Dharamshala is an ideal destination for rock climbing enthusiasts. One can go rock climbing over the ridges of the Dhauladhar range.
Kareri lake (near kareri village) is also a famous trekking destination for travellers.
PLACES OF ATTRACTION
Naam Art Gallery The exhibition in ‘NAAM ART GALLERY’ exhibits paintings by Elsbeth Buschmann – watercolours and acrylics – and oil paintings by Alfred W. Hallett. Elsbeth Buschmann, is a professional painter from Germany, having studied painting in London and Paris . She lived in many countries where she held exhibitions, especially in the USA where she received various awards. Her paintings are in private collections in Germany, USA, Scotland, India and Switzerland. In India she held solo exhibitions at AIFAX, New Delhi and TAG, the Art Gallery of the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. She also took part in ‘The Himalayan National Exhibition of Art’ and was awarded. Open 10am to 7.00pm (Monday Closed) Mobile 098160-43708
Masrur (or Masroor): The major attraction of this place is the fifteen exquisitely carved monolithic rock temples dating back to the 8th century. The carvings of these temples are similar to Kailash temple at Ellora. In the sanctum of the main temple, one can find images of Lord Ram, and the Goddesses Sita and Lakshmi. Masrur is 40 km south of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh at 32°4′22″N 76°8′14″E. Template: Jama Masjid, Kotwali Bazar, Dharamshala.
Bhagsu Waterfall: This waterfall is in Bhagsu, 2 km from McLeodGanj. It lies behind the Bhagsunag Temple. During Monsoon, the fall turns into a 30 feet cascade.
Bhagsunag Temple: Temple of god Shiva situated around 2 km from McLeodGanj Bazaar. Constructed by 1 GR by around 1800 century and then worshipped majorly by 14 Gukha platoon villages in Dharamshala. Very next to Bhagsunag temple is a water fall, one of the major tourist attraction spot in Dharamshala.
Kangra Museum: Situated close to the bus stand, Kangra Art Museum is a unique museum displaying the artifacts of Tibetan and Buddhist cultures. This is a treasure of Kangra valley’s cultural past, crafts, arts and other ancient artifacts. Some of the displayed items in the museum are dating back to the 5th century.
Kangra Museum encloses a gallery consisting of miniature paintings of Kangra’s rich past, pottery, rare coin memorabilia, sculptures and anthropological materials. It has a varied collection of tribal jewelry, embroidered costumes and wood carvings. A section dedicated to contemporary artworks adds the attraction to the museum.
Tourists can easily reach by bus or taxi and it will take 30 mins to one hour to see the museum. While visiting the museum, never miss to explore the Kotwali bazar.
Kunal Pathri Temple: This temple is dedicated to Goddess Kalpeshwari and is 3 km from the Kotwali Bazaar. It’s believed that a part of Goddess Sati’s skull fell here when Lord Shiva was carrying the charred body of the Goddess; hence the name of the temple.
Chamunda Temple: This temple is around 15 km from Dharamshala on the right bank of river Baner on the Mandi-Pathankot highway. According to mythology, Goddess Kali killed the demons Chand and Mund at this place.
Dal Lake: The Lake is spread in an area of 1 km and is bounded by rhododendrons, deodars, and junipers forest. Annually, a fair is held at the Kali Temple near the Lake. There is another temple close to the lake that is dedicated to sage Durvasa. Dal Lake is 2 km walk westwards from McLeodGanj bazaar.
Triund: Triund is nestled in the foothills of Dhauladhar and is around 17 km from Dharamshala. It’s a trekking destination from McLeodGanj, and offers magnificent vistas of the mountains and valleys. The nightstays are in the hoods, small time caves, that local gaddis with their goat herds use as shelters from rains during the daytime.
Naddi: This scenic picnic spot is located 5 km northwest of McLeodGanj. Naddi offers a spectacular view of the Kangra valley. You can trek to Kareri Lake, Triund, and Guna Devi from here. It’s becoming a popular destination for nature lovers.
Thaneek Pura or Thanik Pura is a hill station village (hamlet) in Chintpurni in the Una district of the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. It is near the Chintpurni Temple, which is a place of pilgrimage for both Hindus and Sikhs. The area is surrounded by the western Himalayas in the north and east in the smaller Shiwalik (or Shivalik) range bordering the state of Punjab.
McLeodGanj is around 9 km from Dharamshala. This place is famous for its markets, where one can shop for handicraft items, eat Tibetan food and visit statue of Lord Buddha.
Sidhbari : A village located 6 km from Dharamshala near Yol Cantonment and a place of historical spiritual significance. Attractions around Sidhbari include the Kapila Muni Cave, Chinmaya Ashram, Gyuto monastery, Aganjar Mahadev Temple and the newly constructed State legislature. The agricultural hamlet of Rakkar nearby is an ideal base to explore the rest of the Kangra district and experience the traditional lifestyle and mud architecture of the Gaddi community.
Adi Shakti Temple, Naddi
Bir – Popular destination for ecotourism, meditation studies, volunteering, and paragliding at Billing.
Brajeshwari Devi Temple
Chamunda Devi Mandir
Chime Gyatsarling Monastery, just behind of Norbulingka Institute, upper Sidhpur. 6 km from Dharmshala and 14 km from Gagal airport.
Gopalpur Zoo and tea gardens
Dharamkot (2100 m)
Guna Devi Mandir amidst dense forest
Historical fort in Old Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. Adjoining the Fort is the Maharaja Sansar Chandra Museum, run by the Kangra Royal Family. The Museum provides audio guides for the fort and the museum.
Haripur Village (near Guler)
Pong Dam Lake
Indru Nag Temple
Lam Dal Lake
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives
Masrur (rock temple)
Church of St. John in the Wilderness
Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts
Triund (2975 m), a popular day hike or overnight trek. There is a forest rest house for overnight stay.
Tatwani and Machhrial
Chime Gyatseling Monastery (Guru Padmasambhava)
Near Norbulingka Tibetan Institute
Jama Masjid kotwalibazar Dharamshala
Posted by Manfred Sommer (342 Mio. Views) on 2016-07-15 19:20:05
Tagged: , India , Dharamsala , McLeod Ganj , asienman-photography , Himashal Pradesh