Trip to Dharamshala and Mcleodganj (Part II)

Around a month back, I had written an article about the first day of a visit to McLeodganj and Dharamshala. This article is about the second day into the same trip. Given that we had covered McLeodganj on the first day, the objective was to cover the lower parts of the Kangra Valley and Palampur (and eventually there were a fair number of places that we covered, some good, and for some we wondered why they were there on the tourist map). As usual, there was the discussion about the taxi fares, and eventually we settled (when I say settled, it means that we accepted the quoted rate) on a rate of Rs. 1300 for taking us around.
After a quick breakfast, we got into the taxi for what seemed like a long day ahead of us. The journey was through a hilly road, but nothing too steep nor too rough. The drive was through a beautiful environment, given that the rain had made the whole countryside full of greenery. You just have to look at a photograph to appreciate how green a hill and the valley can be. After a short drive, we reached the first location on our day journey.

Greenery of Dharamshala Hills


We reached a place called The Norbulingka Institute, a center that is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetean culture. Due to Chinese domination of Tibet and the moving of more mainland Chinese into Tibet, there is a fear that the culture of Tibet is being lost. And hence the institute. It is a very beautiful place, with lots of greenery and silence inside. There is a guest house, a doll house, a Buddhist temple and learning place, and a shop that sells Tibetean products (very beautiful).

Norbulingka Institute of Dharamshala

After spending a fair amount of time in the institute, we moved to the next location in our journey, which was the Chamunda Devi temple. One of the Jwalapeeths, the temple is very famous and gets a large number of disciplines on a daily basis, and many more on auspicious periods. There is a stream flowing just next to the temple, and it is considered holy to take a bath in this stream as well. The shrine also has a beautiful statue of Hanuman and Lord Ram. The temple is located around 20 KM from the town of Kangra.

Chamunda Devi Temple

Once we were done with paying our respects to the deity, we decided to move on, and moved towards the town of Palampur. Palampur is a moderately large town, but somehow we did not find much there to see, except for some tea gardens enroute. We stopped to buy some locally packaged tea right next to one tea garden (unfortunately I do not drink tea, and hence don’t know how good the tea was).
Some distance from Palampur is the Taragarh Heritage hotel, a wonderfully well kept heritage hotel. It is located in a large property, with a wonderful setting of trees and silence. There were a number of foreign tourists over there; additionally, to one side of the compound, there is an historic heritage building that was locked when we went; but we had learnt that it was well maintained.
Next, after some more travel, we reached the ancient Shiva temple of Baijnath. This is a beautiful temple made our of rock, and supposedly first built in the 15th century. It is pretty well maintained now, and is actually a functioning temple, with people coming there to offer prayers; it also has a priest in attendance who does the customary things that are done in a temple. The whole complex comprises of the temple building surrounded by a green area. The surrounding area is essentially full of shops, but you can get a bite to eat if you are hungry.

Ancient Shiva Temple at Baijnath

Where else to go ? There is a park that is built to honor the soldiers who laid down their lives in India’s various wars, and is good to spend some time over there. The last place that we went to was an art gallery that houses prints and paintings by Shobha Singh. The actual gallery is not very big, being one big room of a house where his relatives live; you can actually purchase reprints over there for a couple of thousand. If you are an art lover, then you should really visit this place.
After this visit, we had to leave back to the resort as it started raining, and it took us more than an hour in the rain (which was not very hard), but enough that our driver wanted to get back to the safety of the hotel. One advantage of driving in these locations was that none of the roads were steep or winding.

8 Comments

  • Nandan says:

    I think you missed TIPA and then there is Dal lake there as well (unless I am goofing up). I been there twice but missed almost everything where you went, we essentially spent all our time in McLeodganj market :) (good or for better, dont know).

    And I didn’t know that you dont have tea. Good to know new things about you through ghumakkar, interesting.

    Also wanted to update fellow ghumakkars that Ashish went to London last month (Diwali time) and I am sure we will get to hear London stories sometime soon.

  • manish says:

    Norbulinka institute and Baijnath temples are looking very beautiful.

  • Ashish says:

    Nandan,

    I am more of a cultural nihilist, so did not think of TIPA. Dal lake when I went was mostly muddy (although I mentioned it in the Part 1 of this story). We spent some time in Mcleodganj market, but not too much.
    I gave up tea when I was around 16, was drinking too much tea.
    Sometime soon about London :-)

  • Ashish says:

    Manish, thanks. They are indeed very beautiful, and I spent a fair amount of time over there.

  • JATINDER SETHI says:

    Since I discovered this GHUMAKKER SITE recently,I can only add some more Information as comments since others have already written quite comprehensively about these places.
    Normally we, 5 members travel by car, but this time we went to McLeoad Ganj by HP Tourism AC Volvo bus from ISBT, Kasmeregate.We left on the night of 6th June at 8pm and reached Dharanshala at 9.50am.Usually the bus takes you to Mcleodganj but this terminated at and we had to take MarutiVan taxi to McLoed ganj.Since we had not done any advance booking, there were no rooms avaiable in any hotel .Maybe it was lucky, as we had to drive up another 2kmto BHAGSU NAG which turned out to be much better place to stay. We found BHAGSU VIEW hotel right at the Parking lot
    The place is hardly half a km away from Hot Springs and Bhagsu Nag Temple.Excellent arrangements to have bath in the hot springs and lovely long walks around the clouded hills. You can walk down to McLoedgang or take a Rick(Rs30). The hotel we stayed had a resturant on the ground floor .run by the German Bakery people.Their pan cakes with maple syrup were great and the food is excellant.
    we ,somehow, loved McLoed gang,inspite of the crowds and all those long-staying foreigners .
    If your reader enjoy eatin, iwill reccomend them to go to OOGOS CFE ITALIANIO,run by the Oogos family, and their BAKED POTATOE WITH JACKET STUFFED WITH TUNA FISH issimply out of this world–with garlic bread. When we were there ,it kept rainingand we were walking onclouds.we loved roaming on roads there.
    We then moved on to Palampur and stayed in a nice HPTourism hotel–TEA BUD,Apart fro tea gardens for morning walk, you have the icy cold water gushing down from the hill righ into the street Nalas- clea, clear water.,Theres a nice Coffee shop complex with icy cool water flowin where you can buy Stutter wines and Apple Cider. .Thanks for reviving our memories of McLoed Ganj

  • Ashish says:

    Mr. Sethi, this is great information. Thanks.
    Next time, will try and keep this in mind.

  • tripper says:

    norbulinka institute is real great place to visit for all ghumakkars…..u have to visit this institute for the sheer beauty of it,,,,,and doll house too……i have spent an amazing time at mcleod and kangra…..we too went by ac volvo bus at kashmere gate…..as we could book its tickets online……

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