not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Here's a bit of what WIKIPEDIA says about Dharmsala....

Dharamshala is a city in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and is surrounded by dense coniferous forest consisting mainly of stately Deodars. The suburbs of the town includes -- McLeod Ganj, Bhagsu Nath, Forsyth Ganj, Naddi, Kotwali Bazaar (the main market of the town), Kaccheri area (government offices such as the court, police, post etc.), Sidhpur and Sidhbari (where the Karmapa Lama is based

The village of McLeod Ganj lying in the upper reaches is known worldwide for the presence of the Dalai Lama, where he has resided since fleeing Tibet in 1959. Dharamshala houses the headquarters of the Tibetan Government-in-exile about two kilometres below the town of McLeod Ganj, led by the Prime Minister, Samdhong Rinpoche.

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 Dalai Lama. His presence and the Tibetan population has made Dharamshala a popular destination for Indian and foreign tourists, including students studying Tibet.

Meaning and Origin

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 located 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 already one such pilgrims' rest house existing on the site, and the settlement took its name from that dharamshala.[2]


View of Dharamshala valley.

Dharamshala has an average elevation of 1457 metres (4780 feet). The area covered by Dharamshala is almost 29 km².

Dharamshala is located in the Kangra Valley, in the Dhauladhar mountains, and became the capital of the Kangra District in 1852. It is accessible from Pathankot which is 120 km away. The nearest railway connection to Dharamshala is Kangra. The nearest airport is Gaggal at Kangra, which is just 15 km away. There is a daily flight from Dharamshala to Delhi.

The town is divided between McLeodGanj or Upper Dharamshala (which retains a British colonial atmosphere), and Lower Dharamshala (the commercial centre). Upper Dharamshala (elevation about 1,700 m or 5,580 ft) is about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from Lower Dharamshala by road and is some 460 m (1,510 ft) higher.

Dhauladhar means "white ridge" and this breathtaking, snow-capped range rises out of the Kangra Valley to a height of 17,000 feet. They form a treacherous range creating unpredictable weather, but passes of 8,900 feet provide route for the herdsmen of the Ravi Valley beyond. The Kangra Valley is a wide, fertile plain, criss-crossed by low hills.

Dharamsala is divided into two very different parts. Kotwali Bazaar and areas further down the valley are called Lower Dharamsala, while McLeod Ganj and surrounding areas are known as Upper Dharamsala. McLeodganj is nine km by bus route and four km by taxi route up the hill from Kotwali Bazaar. While inhabitants of Lower Dharamsala are almost all Indians, McLeod Ganj is primarily a Tibetan area. McLeod Ganj is surrounded by pine, Himalayan oak, and rhododendron. The main crops grown by local Indians in the valleys below McLeod Ganj are rice, wheat and tea.


Dharamshala has a monsoon-influenced Alpine climate. Summer starts in early April and peaks in early June, when temperatures can reach 35oC. From July to September, in the monsoon season, up to 2000 mm (79 inches) of rain can fall, making Dharamshala one of the wettest places in the state. The monsoon ends in late September and is followed by autumn.

Autumn lasts till late November, with temperatures averaging around 14-15oC. Winter starts in December and goes on till late February. Snow and sleet is common during the winter. Winter is followed by a short, pleasant spring till April.

The best time to visit are the autumn and spring months.

Here is a little about my instructor, Yogi Sivadas, as well as his yoga school "Kailash School of Yoga and Holistic Healing":


Yogi Sivadas,

Born in Kerala, Sugathakumar N Nair (Yogi Sivadas) started learning yoga at the age of four from his great- uncle, Guruji Sivaraman Nair, using the ancient practice of Gurukula Sampradaya which is a part of India’s traditional Vedic system of education. Sivadas then dedicated his life to being a practitioner of Yoga and Holistic healing. He was certified by the Government of India Yoga Vidhya Dham in Advanced Yoga Studies and Yoga Therapy ( also with International Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training, Advanced Yoga Teacher Training, and Sadhana Intensive courses ( Yogi Sivadas is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher - 500 (E- RYT - 500) with Yoga Alliance (

At the age of 16 Sivadas left home to begin his quest for deeper knowledge, traveling throughout India and the neighboring countries. Settling in the powerful Himalayas, he combined this education with the teachings of his guru and his passion for Vedic and Holistic practices to open a yoga and healing school. Sivadas is running a popular yoga school for the past eight years.


  1. I thought that Jaipur is situated at North of Delhi...? Please, see this Map.

  2. Thanks for so much great info on Dharamsala - my husband and I are looking in to a trip - and you write well. Namaste!!