For a very long time, I was looking for options to spend some quiet time away from the hustle bustle of city life. Advised by many, my family decided to visit Mcleodganj, a small town in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. Mcleodganj is a quiet suburb of Dharamshala and has its charm. There are so many best places to visit in Mcleodganj, which makes it a one of a kind destination for everyone.
A large population of Tibetans gives Mcleodganj a character of its own. For this reason, it is also called the “Little Lhasa.” A lot of people may not know (and I include myself in the list) that Mcleodganj is the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile. Nestled in the Dhauladhar Range, Mcleodganj kindles the interest of both adventure seekers and peace lovers alike.
Before leaving for Mcleodganj, I did my research to find out which are the best places to visit in Mcleodganj. That is also the reason that forced me to write this story. Several articles on the internet would suggest you go trekking or visit Kangra Fort, etc., but trust me, all these places are not exactly in Mcleodganj!
We took a Delhi-Dharamshala bus from Kashmere Gate, ISBT. It took us almost 11 hours to reach Dharamshala. From there Mcleodganj is just 11 kilometres away. You can also reach Mcleodganj by taking a flight up to Gaggal Airport, which is only 18 kilometres from Mcleodganj. Another option is Pathankot rail junction, which is around 90 kilometres away from the place, and I would not advise this.
Upon reaching Dharamshala, we took a tuk-tuk ride to the first pit stop – the Church of St. John in the Wilderness.
The Church of St John in the Wilderness was built in 1852 and partially destroyed in the Kangra earthquake of 1904. The church is located just 2-3 kilometres away from the busy Mcleodganj crossroad or the main street.
This neo-gothic stone church also has an old graveyard and a memorial to the British Viceroy Lord Elgin. As we reached early morning, we walked from the Church of St John in the Wilderness to the main street of Mcleodganj. The cool breeze and the pristine beauty made the walk very comfortable and pleasurable.
Our next site was the famous Kalachakra Temple, located just a few footsteps away from the main street. After turning all the prayer wheels, we had breakfast at a stall that served Maggi and eggs. With our bellies full, we decided to check-in to our hotel and freshened up to explore this favourite summer destination.
We were staying in Turkish Cottage, which is located a few meters uphill from the famous Mcleodganj Taxi stand. The hotel is just a few 100 meters away from the Bhagsunag Waterfalls and temple. The hotel was nothing special and offered all basic amenities. By the time we were all freshened and relaxed, it was lunchtime!
We again headed to the main street and had some authentic Tibetan food at Shiva café. It was on the way to our next stop, which was the Dalai Lama Temple complex. While walking down to the temple, make sure you shop from the street side vendors. They have some great collection of souvenirs and Tibetan carpets, rugs, & exotic sculptures.
The Dalai Lama Temple Complex is home to the Namgyal Monastery and is famously known as the residence of Dalai Lama. It is the third largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet. It also includes the famous Namgyal Tantric College.
Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies was established in 1992. It was housed in an old Victorian era house in downtown New York between 1992 and 2014. Today, Namgyal-Ithaca is located on 28 acres of forest land. The place is home to several Tibetan monks and have meditation sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:15 pm to 6:00 pm, which is also open to public.
The complex is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You would need an average 1-2 hours to visit the entire temple complex. Entry is free for all. While you are there, also visit the Tibet Museum, established in 1998 and inaugurated by the 14th Dalai Lama on 20 April 2000. The museum is the official museum of the Central Tibetan Administration Department of Information and International Relations. It displays more than 30,000 pictures of Tibetan culture and history.
It was already getting late by the time we left the Dalai Lama Temple Complex, so we decided to go to Bhagsu Falls. Reaching Bhagsu falls is a trek in itself, then it is worth all the effort. It is one of the best places to visit in Mcleodganj. The gushing sound of the waterfalls and the cool breeze crashing against your cheeks is an experience that no one should miss.
Enjoy a hot cup of tea and Maggi near the waterfall’s famous shop: Shiv Café. For adventure seekers, try taking a bath in the cold, freezing water. We ended spending an hour or two there because of the scenery, or maybe we were too tired to go back to our hotel! That night we slept exceptionally well. All of us were dead tired from the walk and sightseeing. Next day was also going to be hectic, so the sleep was much needed. We woke up early morning to visit the Dal lake, which is around 3 kilometres from Mcleodganj and then head home.
Next morning, we went to Dal Lake, which is named after the Dal lake of Srinagar. It is set between the lush greenery of the Deodar trees and has a Shiva temple too. We did not go boating there, but the early morning breeze around the lake gave us a fresh start for the day.
Our last stop was the Kangra Fort, which is around 20 kilometres from Dharamshala. The ruins of the fort offer a panoramic view of the Kangra Valley. It is said that Maharaja Susharma Chandra of Katoch dynasty had built Kangra Fort. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas.
Mcleodganj is a year-round destination, and I happened to visit the place in October. I purposefully did not mention the Triund in my entire story because Triund Trek is a separate vacation in itself. If you wish to do paragliding and trek to the top, then I’ll say, a weekend trip won’t suffice. And if you have a family of oldies, then it is better you keep these things for your next visit to Mcleodganj – a place home to vibrant monasteries, breathtaking landscape, quaint cafes, and thrilling adventure activities!
That’s it from my side. Do let me know in the comments section, what according to you are the best places to visit in Mcleodganj.
Also read: 11 Best cafes in Mcleodganj