The pleasures of a sojourn in a beautiful mountain retreat in the Himalayas sometimes defy words. That’s because the in ineffable charm of the rich nuances of its cultural and natural heritage can’t always be pinned down. They filter in so smoothly into your sensibilities you don’t really feel like deconstructing that mood, that experience, that emotion…to get to the root of why you are feeling so good about it.

The picturesque twin entities of Dharamasala and McLeodganj fit so neatly into this thinking, it’s a wonder we don’t take more opportunities to flee our everyday world into the embrace of their warm welcome to all – be it a culture buff or spiritual solace seeker, an adventure sports enthusiast or just a laidback holidaymaker who enjoys all of this and more.

A defining force of this summer retreats ambience is the presence of the Tibetan government-in exile, posted under the aegis of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in McLeodganj, the little village in Upper Dharamsala, since the early 60s, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. You can do a deep dive into Tibetan culture at many levels as there has been a concerted effort to preserve and conserve all things Tibetan in in the hill resort which hundreds of relocated Tibetan refugees now call home. While the culinary disposition of the cafes and restaurants literally give you a taste of Tibet, you should definitely spend time in the peaceful environs of the Tsuglagkhang Monastery. This great spiritual hub, presided over by His Holiness is a veritable cross-road of Tibetan culture and Buddhist learning for visitors streaming in from home and abroad. The complex houses the Dalai Lama’s residence, the Tsuglagkhang Temple with beautiful statues Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava and Avalokiteshvara, the Tibatan Musuem and the Namgyal Gompa a private place for the monks. You will enjoy your moment spent at the Kalachakra Temple standing cheek by jowl with the Tsuglagkhang. The highpoints of this shrine include the central Kalachakra image and the glorious frescoes of the 722 deities of the mandala, Shakayamuni Buddha–all created under the personal supervision of His Holiness.  In the main temple you can spin the prayer wheel and spend meditative moments in the prayer hall where monks can be seen in prayer or discourse. When the Dalia Lama is in residence there’s another vibe in the air altogether with a lot of hustle and bustle as visitors arrive from abroad to pay their respects.

A visit to nearby Norbulinga is a must. Its name is inspired by the Dalai Lama’s summer retreat in Lhasa, capital of Tibet. The Institute is deeply involved in in the preservation and continuation of Tibetan art through self-sustaining means. You can spend lots of time in this cultural hub with its beautiful gardens, serenity pools and tiny waterfalls. You can watch craftsmen plying traditional skills in the workshops scattered around the institute. A major pursuit is art in its literary and artistic form.

An unmissable treat is the annual TIPA Festival showcasing the wonderful performing arts and musical heritage of Tibet. Another popular festival is the annual Dharamshala International Film Festival.

In and around the hill town visitors can enjoy a range of adventure actives– paragliding, ziplining, trekking, rock climbing and much more. Did you know the cricket ground at Dharamsala also hosts IPL level cricket championships?

Dharamsala has many allurements to unveil for the patient culture buff. Plan ahead to make the most of your stay here.

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