What does this travel guide to Dharamshala contain?

  1. My Dharamshala trip at a glance
  2. About Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.
  3. My best things to do in Dharamshala.
  4. What is the best time to visit Dharamshala?
  5. How to reach Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh?
  6. How to reach Dharamshala from Delhi?
  7. Where to stay in Dharamshala?
  8. How much would a trip to Dharamshala cost?
  9. What to bring to Dharamshala?
  10. Is Dharamshala safe for solo travelers?
  11. How to avoid the smoking culture of Dharamshala if you don’t want to be a part of it?
  12. How to go on a long trip to Dharamshala?
  13. Around Dharamshala and further reading.


My Dharamshala trip at a glance. 

This is not your typical Dharamshala travel guide.

During my six weeks in Dharamshala, I hardly ever searched for “things to do in Dharamshala” or “best places to visit in Dharamshala.”

What was I doing? I was busy taking my Dharamshala trip slow.

I might sound clichéd, but I was learning the art of doing nothing.

Having said that, let me tell you that I started my journey in Dharamshala by attending a Vipassana course in Dharamkot, one of the many green villages of Dharamshala district. After a much-needed 10-day silence of body and mind, I packed my bags and headed out of the deodar forests of the Dharamkot Vipassana center. My plan was to stay for a week in upper Dharamkot. 

But something made me leave Dharamkot in just two days. Was it the smoky air of my Dharamkot hostel or the hippies lining the cafes in Dharamkot market, I am not sure. I surrendered to my discomfort and shifted to Upper Bhagsu, another lush village in Dharamshala that lies on the other side of Dharamkot.

I had gone to Upper Bhagsu for a week, and I didn’t know that I would end up spending more than a month there. 

What was I doing in Bhagsu village (also known as Bhagsu Nag) for so long?

I was living.

Soaking sunshine, breathing in fresh air wafting from the pea fields, reading, writing, hanging out with travelers from around the world, hiking in Dharamshala, learning flute, understanding my body, doing Vipassana meditation, and practicing yoga were some of the things that I did during my one-month stay in Bhagsu.

Some days, I walked to Mcleodganj. On other days I went to Dharamshala by finding obscure paths through the middle of the jungle, saw my first movie alone in Dharamshala theatre, devoured bowls of mushroom soups in local Tibetan stalls, gorged on paranthas loaded with butter at Himachali food shops, and found tiny green trails to discover a new village or to practice flute with birds.

Even though writing and blogging and learning all the new things kept me busy on days, life in Dharamshala still felt slow.

If I couldn’t wander in the wild for whatever reason, my feet got itchy.

Practicing flute in the Himalayas. Kangra valley, Dharamshala


Exploring tiny trails amongst garlic fields, watching goats and sheep climb up and down, chatting away with the farmer ladies feeding the cows freshly-cut grass, watching the children walking back home on treacherous paths, listening to loud streams gushing close by, choosing one from the hundred tiny mud paths that all go to the same place, walking under the umbrella of the fragrant deodar and pine trees, admiring the blood-red rose bushes that jump out of nowhere, I didn’t realize how time went by.

At the end of the day, I often tucked up in bed with a piece of Bhagsu cake in hand and an Antman movie on a computer or a Ruskin Bond book on my Kindle. If it rained, I ordered masala chai to warm my hands and soul.

Don’t judge me for too much chai. I needed them on those moody days of Dharamshala more than the French need their wine after work.

Weather in Dharamsala shifted like the mood of a disappointed life partner. Suddenly clouds would come floating by close to my balcony. At other times it hailed as if someone had opened a door. I even ran downstairs to get hit by the icy balls in my head, but the young caretaker at my homestay scolded me to go back to my room. Then I sat around the restaurant kitchen to drink masala chai or rum and coke. At other times, I wore my pink rain jacket and walked to lower Bhagsu for a tattoo had to be made.

I haven’t told anyone about the tattoo bit yet. Sshh.

I might have lied a little when I said I was doing nothing. At least I felt that I wasn’t doing much in Dharamshala.

Sometimes, I just sat and admired the caravan of nature, and on other days I became a part of it. And why wouldn’t I? The scenery was breathtaking, the mood was vibrant, and the sun was generous, at least a few days of the week.

Whatever I did, the white chocolate-sprinkled Dhauladhar range stood tall and peeked at us from everywhere in Dharamshala making the experience ethereal.

At those heights, you rarely feel stressed. Life seems like a tiny spectacle in front of the gigantic mountains.




It’s not that the people in Dharamshala don’t have a tough life.

I kept asking locals about their life. If the restaurant people made enough money to support their families. If the guy who sold rudraksha malas in Mcleodganj had enough. If the 20-year-old boy from Kashmir was studying along with his day job in a shop which feeds his family in Kashmir.

Like everywhere else, some people struggled more than others. Some hoped for a better tomorrow.

But none of them told me that they wanted to go somewhere else. They were all content about living in the mountains away from the chaos of cities.

When you travel to Himachal Pradesh, talk to some people there. They have interesting stories to tell.

Even though it seems almost clichéd to say that you should travel or visit the mountains to be free. To look at the bigger picture. To find yourself.

Looking down on the world while nestling in a sleeping tent on the top of the Himalayan peaks does add a skyline to the mundane.

So what do you say? Let’s visit some mountains this year. Let’s do the clichéd. Let’s get out and climb some hills. Who knows what we might find.

Though I am painting a fairytale picture here, Dharamshala over the past few years has been getting many more tourists than a village hamlet should. Israelis, Europeans, English, and North and South Americans all come here to live in peace, learn yoga in Dharamshala, and progress on the path of spirituality. But this migration and the exponential growth in Dharamshala tourism has its own disadvantages.

Occasionally, you will find crowds of Israelis playing loud music at 1 in the night. Your table and chair would disappear from your balcony or would be loaded with dirty plates that some drunk people didn’t care to put in the kitchen. You would wake up to almost-naked men sun-basking as if they were in a private garden.

Travelers wouldn’t move for days and would smoke away expecting you to join. Your music teacher might not show up for classes no matter how many times you remind him. Someone would light a joint right after a yoga class at 10 in the morning. Even if you try to work, people would come over and sit at your table expecting you to expect company. They won’t move but you would have to.

So on.

I was able to thrust away some of this social conundrum. Some days it bothered me. Other times I joined. And some afternoons I quietly shifted to another table in the sun hoping to write the persuasion away.

Do what you have to do. Not wanting to smoke doesn’t make you uncool. Smoking too much isn’t bad as long as you don’t step over others’ space. 

Related Read: 15 things we overthink about

However hard this might sound, I would have it no other way. This constant switch between comfort and discomfort makes me who I am.

At times I couldn’t stop smiling for serendipity unfolded and left me at the best squares of life and in the middle of amazing people.

On days, you would find yourself wandering in the woods while at times you would sit in your homestay watching the sky catch fire with a cup of tea and conversation with your host. You can eat paneer butter masala and roti for lunch while dinner could be a burger with salad and potato fries. You can sit with a laptop or you can meditate.

Everything is possible in Dharamshala.

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view from my guesthouse in Bhagsunag, Dharamshala

About Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.

Do you know that Dharamshala is the second capital of Himachal Pradesh after Shimla? The district headquarters of the Kangra district in Himachal, Dharamshala is also Dalai Lama’s and thousands of Tibetans’ home after Tibet was occupied by China.

Surrounded by the snowy Dhauladhar ranges, Dharamshala is a peaceful place to visit.

My Best Things to do in Dharamshala.

Location of Dharamshala is such that it makes for an amazing place to hike, relax, eat, learn, read, and live. Some refer to Dharamshala as Dharamshala hill station, a place tucked away in the mountains.

This list will take you to the nooks and corners of Dharamshala and to some well-known places to see in Dharamsala while making you feel that you haven’t been doing much.

Remember that there are a plethora of activities in Dharamshala to choose from. See what you like.

Let’s start.


1. Take a meditation course and change your life

My favorite meditation center, or to say realistically, the only one I tried was Vipassana meditation center in Dharamkot.

Vipassana is an ancient meditation technique that has been passed on by our beloved Buddha himself. I have yet to write an article on Vipassana, but for now, I would say that meditation isn’t as fancy as it seems. You are basically trying to control your thoughts, body, and brain while focusing on your breath or your body parts. And you do that for a long time to be able to make some progress with this control or balance. You try to become mindful.

The ten-day-long Vipassana course at the Dhamma centers is good for a beginner. Though it is a hard course and you have to sit on the floor to meditate for about 15 hours a day, the suffering is part of the course for the pain that arises from long sittings give you a practice platform for controlling it. Whether it rains or the forest shakes with a hailstorm, you meditate.

Vipassana doesn’t only help you focus your mind, manage your pains, it also helps your rewire your behavior. I still need to be more regular with my post-course one-hour morning and evening meditation, but since I have gone to the course, I don’t take many medicines in period pain. I know the pain is temporary and it will pass. Try the course if you want to use meditation techniques to live a better life.

When to go: Closed in the winters so the best time to go is March/April to September/October.

How to go: Apply on the Dhamma website. When you receive a confirmation, follow my steps to go to Dharamshala. Dharamkot is just a small taxi or bus ride away from the Dharamshala bus stand.


2. Hike in Dharamshala – Best way to sightseeing in Dharamshala

My best way to travel in Dharamshala was to walk. And to your surprise, every destination in Dharamshala or Himachal can be hiked up to by many different paths.

I am listing down all the places around Dharamshala and within Dharamshala that I hiked or trekked or lost my way, too. Feel free to go on some of these hikes or find your own.

You can read my guide to trekking in Dharamshala for complete information on all these Dharamshala treks.

  • Kareri lake — Kareri Lake lies a trek away from the village of Kareri.  Located at a high altitude of 2934 meters, Kareri lake is a freshwater lake that is said to have the most gorgeous sceneries. I almost went for this trek but then my plan got canceled and I ended up in Amritsar instead. 
  • Naddi Dharamshala — A village which you can walk to from Mcleodganj. Go here for beautiful sunsets.
  • Dharamkot or Bhagsu to Dharamshala city —  A long but beautiful walk. Take the road that forks from the Bhagsu-Mcleodganj road and goes down, and keep walking. Ask the locals for the way. You can also walk along the stream that goes down from Bhagsu waterfall and continues. Or you can choose to walk up the hills as I did. More details in the Dharamshala hiking guide.
  • To an unnamed waterfall in Dharamkot — One of my best places in Dharamshala to visit

A gorgeous waterfall in which you can swim lies a 2-3-4 hours hike from Dharamkot and Bhagsu. Walk up to the Gallu Devi temple(one of the many revered temples in Dharamshala) above Dharamkot and ask for the way. 

  • To BhagsuNag waterfall by two different paths— Walk to the Bhagsu waterfall from either upper or lower Bhagsu. The upper part of the Bhagsunag waterfall and the walk is quieter than the lower.
  • To the Triund campsite and the snow-capped mountains of Dhauladhar — A 6 km uphill walk under the red rhododendrons from Upper Dharamkot would bring you to the Triund hill. Do it yourself or take a guide, the walk is pretty either way. More details on this in the hiking guide.

One other trek to do in Dharamshala is the Indrahar pass trek. This trek would take you around 4 days and 3 nights to complete.

Visiting places in Dharamshala by hiking is much more than interesting than taking a bus or a taxi. Walk it away. Remember, the altitude of Dharamshala is about 1450 meters, so if you start panting, don’t be too hard on yourself. 


Hiking – Your first answer to the question of what to do in Dharamshala.


3. Sign up for a yoga course in Dharamshala

Due to the scenic Dhauladhar Himalayas that envelops Dharamshala from all side, because of Dalai Lama, and due to the mediation centers around Dharamshala, yoga has become a popular activity in and nearby Dharamshala.

Yoga is such a trend now in Dharamshala that everyone who goes there has yoga added to their Dharamshala things to do. Due to the crowd of tourists that look for yoga classes in the area, many yoga centers have opened up that run hourly basis and donation-based yoga classes.

Though now new yoga teachers have opened up yoga centers for different kinds of yoga, many old yoga centers still thrive in the area. 

My guide to Dharamshala yoga that also includes an introduction to yoga will help you fully understand the yoga scene in Dharamshala and will help you find a yoga center if you are looking for one.


4. Live in a village in Dharamshala

What is better than waking up to a silent village, a few birds that chirp to wake up the world, and a misty view from your balcony?

I lived in Bhagsu village for more than a month doing the many things that I mentioned above. If you love a location-free lifestyle, just hop onto one of the many villages in Dharamshala and see how life goes on in Himachal.

But having said all the nice things about a village stay, let me tell you that the unlimited self-growth classes – music, yoga, meditation, and healing have sort of compromised on the local feel of the Himachali villages. Sometimes you would feel as if you are in Europe or some other cosmopolitan place outside India.

By stepping aside from the main paths, you can find the local feel of Himachal on your own though.
Amongst the tonnes of self-improvement classes, travelers forget to go out in nature and see how healing nature is. This is not something against Dharamshala necessarily, but you might feel that urbanization is overdone and might want to step into nature, which is what you traveled to Dharamshala for.

This guide would help — My experience of living in Bhagsu village in Dharamshala.

homestay bhagsu dharamsala himachal pradesh india


5. Practice a music instrument, and, again, change your life —

Many classical musicians and singers from around India flock to Dharamshala not only for some respite from city life but also to teach to aspiring singers and musicians.

Go try the Jolly music shop at the center of Dharamkot. It is easy to find. You get to choose an hourly class of an instrument of your choice. Price per class around 400-500 rupees.

Sit out in the many classical music festivals held at restaurants and cafes at night and get inspired to learn.


6. Enjoy Tibetan and Nepali food while not forgetting that we have still got paranthas and rajma chawal in Dharamshala —

Food is westernized & expensive in Dharamshala villages. Now as fewer Indians travel for long, restaurants make food for an international palette. The almost bland food processed by these restaurants is sometimes thought of as real Indian food by foreign tourists.

Either you are a foreigner or an Indian, ask the restaurant for a balance of spices in your curries while ordering your food. Though this is not true for all places,  and I am listing down the restaurants that I liked here. Also, Mcleodganj has more local, simple, and cheaper food options than the villages of Dharamshala.

My favorite places to eat in Dharamshala —

  1. Roja Cafe, Upper Bhagsu — Home-grown wheat chapati and aloo gobhi. Poori sabji (dry veggies with pooris). And more.
  2. Jungle Calling, Upper Bhagsu — Chocolate balls. 100 rupees for one piece.
  3. Tibet Kitchen, Mcleodganj, Dharamshala — All Tibetan thukpas, momos, and finger-licking.
  4. Bishnu Trekkers tea house — Small Himachali stall near Mcleodganj Square. Thali or the Himachali Dham for rupees 61. Unlimited food but please pay more for you can only get so much in 61.
  5. White Rabbit, Upper Bhagsu — For authentic Indian thali and crispy dosas.
  6. Evergreen Cafe — Upper Bhagsu. Spinach burger with fries. All things Indian are good here. Their sister also runs a place called Evergreen on the way from Dharamkot to Bhagsu. All good food and ginger lemon honey. 
  7. Bodhi Greens, Dharamkot — Good sandwiches and cakes.
  8. The Yak Cheese Sandwich shop — Dharamkot. For fresh yak cheese sandwiches and all things sweet.
  9. Heena Cafe— Upper Dharamkot near Bunker hostel. For good Indian and Tibetan food.
  10. Brahma Cafe — Upper Bhagsu. For Indian thali and garlicky palak paneer.
  11. Namgyal cafe — For those days when you need good crunchy pizza.
  12. Samosa and tiki shops in Mcleodganj on the Dalai Lama temple road.
  13. Small stalls in Mcleodganj – For kadhi chawal, rajma chawal, and aloo paranthas. If you want simple and cheap food, Mcleodganj is your best bet.
It was better than it looks. Roja cafe, Upper Bhagsu.


White Rabbit, Upper Bhagsu
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A Chaat stall and local shop in Mcleodganj.


Places I didn’t like —

Little Buddha, on the way from Upper to Lower Bhagsu – Food was very average here though the place was always crowded.

Trimurti gardens in Dharamkot— I liked this place but I didn’t understand the hype.

Trek and Dine – A very popular place in Dharamkot but I found the food to be pretty average. Also, the place was full of people (ahem Israelis) who rudely always shifted places as they liked and didn’t respect anyone else.

To name a few.

Shiva cafe, Upper Bhagsu, a great place to visit Dharamshala.

7. Try your hands at photography under Dharamshala’s deodars and pines

Chase those birds but from a distance. Capture that golden sunset. Set up the tripod and trace those stars in the sky. This is the time.


8. Get acquainted with Buddhism and the simple way of living

Dalai Lama stays in Dharamshala in the Dalai Lama main temple (one of the main places to visit in Mcleodganj). Along with him came many of his followers from Tibet, and Tibetans now have their own government in exile in Dharamshala.

Dharamshala has been a spiritual center for decades now. Tushita meditation center in Dharamkot is just next to the Vipassana meditation center.

You can sign up for a ten-days introductory course to Buddhism three or just attend some open and free meditation classes in the morning.

Walking around Dharamshala is also a great way to interact with the monks and understand their life. You can strike up a conversation in the Dalai lama temple (a good place to visit in Mcleodganj) or on the lanes of Dharamshala.

Staying close to people who live such humble lives is an eye-opener in itself. Also, Himachali people’s simple lives are no less than a guidance in this 21st century where we can get everything at our doorstep, and a simple Google search leads to a bombardment of advertisements on all our social media profiles. 

Most of the people of Himachal are quite well-doing and have multiple homes and farmlands. But you would never see them sitting idle, hiring many machines to do their work, engrossed with the phone, or showing their money in jewelry or expensive things – women were especially hard workers as far as I noticed.

Their simple lives would help you focus on what is important and what’s not.


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Dal lake in May. Dal Lake is one of the many popular places to visit in Dharamshala and Mcleodganj but choose your season. Also, there are beautiful walks from Dal lake that go to nearby villages. Ask around.

9. See some crazy art performances from around the world — One of the many intriguing things to see in Dharamshala.

Dharamshala is a very spiritual kind of place that attracts all kinds of travelers and non-travelers from around the world.

You would find all kinds of spiritual and art activities in Dharamshala. Regular messages are posted on the Dharamkot information board. Or join the Bhagsu or Dhramkot or Dharamsala Facebook group and stay updated.

Slow travel is the best travel in Dharamshala.

And if you are in a rush, you can always pick a few things from this list and do as much as you can or just learn the art of doing nothing. You can also opt for this GetYourGuide full-day Dharamshala tour with a local guide who will help you navigate the city and show some of its must-sees in a day while providing local insights.


What is the best time to visit Dharamshala?

The weather in Dharamshala shifts quicker than you can imagine.

The best time to visit Dharamshala is summer which lasts from mid-April to June/July when the monsoon begins.  Though the summer months are supposed to be dry, Dharamshala receives heavy rainfall and hailstorms even in summers. So be prepared. 

In the summers in Dharamshala, you can manage during the day with a shawl or a light jacket. But the evenings can get chilly so carry a thick jacket. Don’t worry about things to bring to Dharamshala for I have covered that later in the article in a list.

In winters, Dharamshala gets covered under heavy layers of snow, and many businesses shift to Goa to cater the customers there. If you plan to visit Dharamshala in December or any other winter months, inquire first about the availability of places and guesthouses.

Most dangerous are the months of July, August, September when Dharamshala receives heavy rainfall making landslides a common scene. Please take extra care during these months, stay alert with news, and ask locals for advice.

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How to reach Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh?

The nearest airport to Dharamshala is the Dharamshala airport. Fly to Dharamshala from Delhi or take any other domestic flight. 

Traveling to Dharamshala is also convenient from Pathankot and Amritsar, cities in Punjab. So fly to these cities or reach them via a bus or train. Then you can either fly from Pathankot and Amritsar or take another bus to Dharamshala. Pathankot to Dharamshala distance is approximately 85 km but do keep a buffer for local buses have their own moods and stops.

You can also travel to Dharamshala by bus from many other places such as Bhuntar, Manali, Shimla, and other cities in Himachal.

Book your HRTC or private buses on Redbus. If you don’t see many buses, you can also check on Cleartrip, Yatra, and other websites where you won’t look for buses generally. When I was traveling in Himachal, I realized that all the Himachal and Punjab buses weren’t listed on Redbus.

As there are many permutations and combinations of commute possible, choose the one that is the most convenient and suit your timings.

Please note – There is no railway station in Dharamshala, and the nearest railway station to Dharamshala is Pathankot in Punjab. 

Taking a taxi up to Dharamshala is also a good way to travel if you are short on time or don’t want to enjoy the experience of traveling in an ancient bus on a curvy path on the Himalayas.

Mcleodganj and Dharamshala are connected by buses and shared taxis which don’t run at night. You will have to get a private taxi at night from Dharamshala bus stand. Taxi prices are fixed, and Dharmshala to Mcledoganj is about 350/400 rupees during the day/night.

Don’t forget to download an offline Google map of Dharamshala.


How to reach Dharamshala from Delhi?

Delhi to Dharamshala by Bus — This is the most common option for traveling to Dharamshala from Delhi. You can get an overnight bus from either old or New Delhi to Dharamshala. The Delhi to Dharamshala journey would take about 14 hours.

Delhi to Dharamshala by Train — You can only travel until Pathankot. Then either take a taxi, bus, or flight to Dharamshala. 

Delhi to Dharamshala by taxi or self-driving — A good option always. Be prepared to drive on mountainous roads. 

Delhi to Dharamshala by Air — Fly to Dharamshala airport.

If you are planning a trip to Mcleodganj from Delhi, you can get a direct bus from Delhi that goes until Mcleodganj.

Where to stay in Dharamshala?

Even though Dharamshala is a great place to stay, not all homestays in Dharamshala are really homestays. Locals have commercialized their places and homestays there are more like a hotel where you come, go, and live independently and don’t spend much time with a Himachali family.

I was not particularly very happy with this commercialization of Dharamshala homestays as I like to know the locals and spend time with them. But I had to instead focus more on interacting with locals outside my home for homeowners seem to have had enough of tourist interaction. Of course, this isn’t true for all the homestays, and especially new guesthouses are more inclusive.

Having said that, you can find places to stay in Dharamshala just by walking around. But do book a place to stay for your first night if you are arriving late in Dharamshala. If you are heading straight away to Dharamshala villages, then book a place in either Bhagsu or Dharamkot. The taxis can come up to a certain point and then walk.

Book a place in Dharamshala here on Booking. Remember that most of the places that the website shows come up in Bhagsu, Mcleodganj, or Dharamkot. If you are arriving late at night, ask your guesthouse about how to reach the place at night.

After spending a day, feel free to walk around, lose your way in the hidden trails of the valley, and ask for availability and prices. Many guesthouses aren’t registered on any tourism website so your best bet to find an affordable place is by walking and asking around.

I liked Bhagsu and Dharamkot better than Mcleodganj for staying purposes. Mcleodganj was louder and had a fast-moving influx and outflow of tourists.

Dharamkot is a nice area to stay if you like to stay close to the action. Upper Dharamkot is more peaceful than lower.

Upper Bhagsu is better to stay as it is less crowded and more peaceful than lower Bhagsu, which has a daily influx of tourists coming in to pray at the Bhagsunag temple.

Places to stay in Dharamshala are of many kinds. Homestays are easy to find just by asking around and so are hostels and hotels. I chose to stay in a homestay for a month at the price of almost 15k per month (discounted from 700 rs to 550 and am sure that I could have gotten it for 500). The room has an attached balcony and a toilet with 24-hours hot water.

I used to get a bird’s eye view of Dharamshala from my balcony so it was worth it.

For me, the best place to stay in Dharamshala would be Upper Dharamkot or Upper Bhagsu.

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Crowded streets of Mcleodganj, Dharamshala

How much would a Dharamshala trip cost?

I spent about 500 rupees on my stay, and about 500 more on food, coffee, and daily necessities. 

Additional costs:

A hatha yoga class for one and half hour — 200 rupees minimum donation.

A flute lesson — 400 rupees per class for a one-hour class.

Fruits – Few apples, bananas, and mangoes cost about 200 rupees, maximum 3 dollars, in lower Bhagsu.

Taxis and autos run on fixed prices. Though you wouldn’t be able to take them much as the roads aren’t always motorable. Also, walking around Dharamshala was so much fun and a natural exercise that I almost always walked on my Dharamshala solo trip.

What to bring to Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh?

  • Bring along a rain jacket
  • Reliable walking shoes and flip flops
  • Comfortable track pants (both thin and thick) for walking.
  • A few t-shirts, thick ones if you come in the winter and thin ones for the summer. 
  • Some warm clothes as the weather gets colder in the evening. You would also need those warm clothes or at least a woolen shawl or a jacket. (I brought a sweater, too, but I sent it back for I didn’t need one in the summer.) You can buy a shawl from Dharamshala, too.
  • Your toiletries and sunscreen and a hat for the sun. 
  • headlamp or torch for night walks through the mountains. 
  • Bring a mosquito repellent
  • Long socksfull-sleeves shirt, and full-length trousers for treks.
  • Bring binoculars. A good camera. Ask that friend for his heavy lens, you might need it to click a whistling thrush.
  • Basic medicines.
  • Yoga matt or buy one from Dharamshala.
  • A refillable water bottle. You have to pay 10 rupees for a bottle of filtered water at most of the guesthouses. But my LifeStraw bottle that filters water on the go has saved me much money for I fill it up from any community tap around the village as the water comes directly from the Himalayas. Even if it was not coming from the mountains, Lifestraw has a strong filter. No more buying plastic water bottles. 
  • Some lovely books to read.

Is Dharamshala Safe for solo travelers?

I was never scared to walk alone in Dharamshala. Himachal Pradesh — in general — is a pretty safe place even for a solo woman. 

Having said that, please do take the basic precautions every traveler needs to take. Don’t venture out late at night alone. Bring a torch. Ask the locals for help. Let someone know where you are going. See the weather and then plan the hike of the day.

I have written more safety tips on traveling alone and in a group in my Dharamshala trekking guide.

How to avoid the smoking culture of Dharamshala if you don’t want to be a part of it?

Smoking h*** is a culture in Dharamshala.

Remember that if you don’t like to smoke, you can always say no. You don’t become less cool if you don’t smoke. Do what you have to do. You would have to find your space and also be ready to feel out of the group (not always and it is better to stay away from these groups then who don’t respect your choices).

If you want to smoke, do it responsibly and while being respectful to the locals. 

How to go on a long trip to Dharamshala?

My digital nomad lifestyle allows me to travel.

But if you have a job, how can you visit any place for longer?

Combine holidays. Think about long weekends and join them together with your other holidays. Take sabbaticals. Get a break in between jobs. Give yourself a chance to see the world after graduation. Ask your partner to plan a trip with you. Pamper your child with a getaway to the grandest mountains of the world.

Well, you get the idea.


Places to visit around Dharamshala and further readings.

You have access to many places to visit near Dharamshala for you are in the mighty Himalayas.

Here are some of the places near Dharamshala that I visited on my Himachal trip:

Spiti Valley

Solo in Spiti – My Travel Guide to Spiti Valley

Spiti in Photos – Everyday Pictures of Spiti – Photos of Spiti that show regular Spitian life

Parvati Valley

Kalga Village, Parvati, Himachal – My favorite village in Parvati

Kalga to Bunbuni Pass – Hiking on offbeat paths in Parvati

Manikaran Sahib, Parvati valley – A timeless village in Parvati

Running away from Shilha village – Escaping the loudspeakers in Parvati

Travel guide to Kasol village, Parvati – Only the gateway to Parvati valley

An honest travel Guide to Parvati Valley – No sugarcoating but only the real scene of Parvati and peaceful places to go.

Manali – My offbeat travel guide to the best places to visit in Manali

Naggar, Manali – Travelogue of Naggar


Dharamshala city as seen from a walk from Bhagsu to Mcleodganj.


Did you like my Dharamshala blog? Let me know in the comments.


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  1. Himalaya Cab October 26, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    Well, the article is well worth to read.

  2. Renu Datta June 12, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    Hi Priyanka, it’s written and explained beautifully. I am in Rakkar (a small village near Dharamshala)for a month with my family. Your blog is really helpful to explore the more unexplored places.
    Keep on writing
    Renu Datta

  3. DK April 12, 2021 at 11:25 am

    It was delightful to your blog.

  4. sadaf khan February 23, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Priyanka,

    This was not only comprehensive but as I read I felt like I was a part of the journey too and that is something eh? Kudos!

  5. Rajat Kumar January 14, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    I have been to Dharamshala twice and after reading this blog post, I need to go more often.
    Flute and meditation in Himalays is such a bliss.

  6. Naidm December 26, 2020 at 1:05 pm


  7. Himanshuray Vaidya October 23, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Your Dharamsala guide is comprehensive and fantastically written. Kudos.

  8. Dr Ved Patial August 8, 2020 at 5:04 am

    Amazing , I live in Dharamsala but you have beautifully explored every moment..amazing

  9. Sushma July 31, 2020 at 4:52 am

    Loved your article. I live in USA and work in IT so I can understand the urge to change.
    Didn’t know anything about Dharamshala before and now will surely plan a trip there.
    Sooo happy for you that you are living your dreams. Way to go girl.
    Will join onmycanvas to read your traveling adventures

  10. Namrata January 28, 2020 at 7:16 am

    Loved reading this Priyanka. Headed there next week. Will keep referring to your Himachal blogs 😊

  11. Andrea Venter January 5, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    Wow, thank you so much for this guide. I cannot wait to go see some of these places and eat the foods and find my self 🙂 great article Priya

  12. Rajat Kumar November 12, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Felt like reading some sort of encyclopedia. Great information
    How did you manage to take such fantastic photographs.

    1. Priyanka Gupta November 12, 2019 at 11:00 pm

      Hey. Thank you for dropping by and for the beautiful comment. Pictures are a mix of phone and Nikon. But still mostly phone. Encyclopedia? Really? That’s nice 🙂

  13. Sagar October 4, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    This is a brilliant guide.


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