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Trek, Pray, Eat & Shop: What To Do When You Are In Dharamshala

If you've had enough of the eastern Himalayas, we suggest this holiday season you make a plan to explore the lower Himalayas in the north. Shimla and Manali are of course the easiest places to pick, but if you're looking for a quiet and peaceful stay (away from the touristy crowds) then Himachal's summer capital, Dharamshala, is a good place to consider. And it's tiny village McLeodganj a sweet retreat to avail. We've chalked your itinerary. All it needs are those tickets to be booked.

Easily one of the most memorable and easiest trek routes in Himachal, a trek to Triund must be on every squad and solo traveller checklist. The Triund trek is one of the easiest and most stunning treks in Himachal Pradesh. Starting from McLeodgang, you hike up higher than Dharamkot and Bhagsu Nag to reach the hilly climes of Triund. The landscape offers an alluring view of the snow-capped Dhauladhar Range, namely Mun, Rifle Horn, Arthur’s seat and Slab. Normally safe (even during most of the winter), Triund is accessible in all the seasons, in fact it looks like a wonderland when covered in a blanket of snow. In the summer, it is all about lush meadows and bright flora. 

Another place to hit up if you are seeking thrills is Bir Billing, which lies just 8 km away from Dharamshala. One of the best places to go paragliding over the valleys, gorges and peaks, this one will give you an unforgettable experience. To sign it off on a beautiful and serene note, hike up to Naddi and stay there to catch the sunset as the sun paints the sky in a multitude of colours.

Dharamshala is the seat of the exiled Tibetans, and the main temple of Tibetan Buddhism lies right at the centre of McLeodganj - the beautiful edifice of Tibetan Buddhism or the Tsulagkhang Temple. Also, known as the seat of the Dalai Lama, this is the place from where he delivers his sermons when in town. The temple with its open porches and balconies overlook the majestic hills and deciduous forests, and is a great place to catch a few peaceful moments.

The other important gomphas to check are the Kalachakra temple (located in the main street of McLeodganj and the Gyuto Monastery (a 10-minute drive from Norbulingka). Up ahead in the village of McLeodganj lies another popular Hindu temple, Bhagsu Nag, that is worth a visit too.

What you can't miss though is the Bhagsu Nag waterfall that is a popular site for a chilly, shivering dunk. Downhill stands the decrepit St. John’s Church in wilderness. Built in the 1800s, it’s one of those gothic edifices that still stand as a reminder to the bygone British era.

A quaint place that is heavily frequented by foreigners, Dharamshala - especially McLeodganj - has several charming eateries lining it. The Illiterati Cafe is its most famous joint. You can sit by the hanging balcony that overlooks the hills and sip on your Tibetan tea while working on your laptop or reading a book picked from the cafe. Don’t miss a visit to the shabby old Tibet Kitchen for authentic Tibetan fare. Hit up the Woeser Bakery and the matchbox-sixed Peace Café for a good breakfast. Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen and Korean Café Ri are some other popular haunts that you may not want to give a miss. And there are all those the momo stalls that crowd every nook of McLeodganj.

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