Home to the exiled Tibetan Government, Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh is set against the mighty Dhauladhar Range in the lower Himalayas. Having gained rapid popularity with western visiters, Dharamsala has grown to be a Bohemian destination for travellers who want to spend some laid back time in India. The Tibetan town is replete with cafes and small guest houses. There are few, but beautiful, sightseeing options in this small town.
Here are our top choices for sightseeing in Dharamsala, with opening times and entry fee guide.
1. Kangra Art Museum
The museum displays the local arts and crafts of the region. Some of the artefacts date back to 5th century. In addition to the museum, there is a gallery which displays the famous miniature paintings of Kangra and a collection of sculptures, pottery, and anthropological items.
Opening Times: 10.00 am to 1:30 pm and 2.00 to 5.00 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)
Entry Fee: Rs 10/- Indians and Rs 50/- Foreign Nationals.
2. War Memorial
Built right at the entrance to the town, the War Memorial commemorates the post independence war heroes of the state. It is set in the backdrop of lush pine trees and neatly manicured lawns.
Opening Times: 7.00 a.m to 8.00 pm (All Days)
Entry Fee: Rs 5/-
3. McLeod Ganj
McLeod Ganj lies on the upper part of Dharamsala, and also houses Dalai Lama’s abode. A number of monasteries, Tibetan homes and shops have earned this place a sobriquet of ‘Little Lhasa of India’. You can find several handicraft shops and cafes here to spend your time in.
View a map of McLeod Ganj with places to see, eat and drink marked.
4. Church of St. John In The Wilderness
More a memorial for British Viceroy, Lord Elgin who died at Dharamsala in 1863 than a Church, this beautiful stone building is a constant reminder of the British occupation of India. The Anglican Church is located in the midst of Deodar trees between the Mcleodganj and Forsyth Ganj, only 8 kms from Dharamsala town. Taxis are easily available to get here.
Opening Times: 10.00 a.m to 5.00 pm (All Days)
Entry Fee: Nil
5. Namgyal Monastery
This is one of most famous landmarks of the upper part of town in Dharamsala. The monastery was built in 1575 and houses more than 180 monks. Apart from the humble living quarters for monks, the monastery also has a Tibetan museum, a cafeteria, a book shop, library, prayer wheels and Buddhist shrines. This is the private monastery of Dalai Lama and you cannot go inside the temple area. The Naam Art Gallery is open for the public.
Opening Times: 10.00 a.m to 7.00 pm (All Days except Monday)
Entry Fee: Nil
6. Bhagsu Falls
Arriving during the monsoons will give you a great view of the copious amount of water in the Bhagsu Falls. Located just 2 kms from McLeod Ganj, this is a great picnic spot.
Opening Times: 7.00 a.m to 9.00 pm
7. Library of Tibetan Works and Archives
The library was founded by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama in 1970 and contains sources which were relocated from Tibet during the 1959 escape, including Tibetan Buddhist manuscripts and archives related the Tibets history, politics, culture and art. It houses over 80,000 manuscripts, books and documents and over 600 thangkas, statues and other artefacts of Buddhist heritage. Visit their website.
Opening Times: Library hours are from 9am till 5pm, closing for lunch between 1pm and 2pm. The library is open daily, apart from on Sundays and the second and fourth Saturdays of each month
Some of the other sightseeing in Dharamsala options are Hanumaan Ka Tibba, Dal Lake, Triund, Narghota and Chamunda Devi. If you have enough time these are all worth exploring as well.
For all of the above, it is recommended to check opening times and entry fees as these are subject to change.
Things to do in Dharamsala – discover places and sights around Dharamsala
Dharamsala Homestay Collection – find a place to stay from 1950Rs / £28 GBP
Dharamsala Destination Guide – find out when you go, history and cuisine of the region
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.