The twin towns of Dharamshala and McLeodganj in the Kangra Valley are two of Himachal Pradesh's most visited towns. While Dharamshala is the bustling commercial centre, McLeodganj in the upper reaches is the Tibetan Government's seat in exile. A melting pot of cultures, McLeodganj offers countless experiences for the traveller seeking a perfect balance of quiet spirituality and adventurous activities. The cafe scene is vibrant and a hint of the hippie cult marks the atmosphere. Though for most, Dharamshala translates to Tibetan trails, colorful bazaars and an excellent food scene, the surrounding Dhauladhars present excellent trekking opportunities too.
For an alternative way of rediscovering this place, we list 5 day-treks for you that will not only bring you closer to nature but will also give you a deeper insight into the life and traditions of the locals.
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The Triund Hill Trek is one of the most popular treks around Dharamshala. The hill lies on one of the major routes used by the gaddis for their seasonal migration and hence the trail is mostly well marked. Along the way, there are forests and flowery meadows. The snow peaks of the Dhauladhars loom on the horizon. The Galu Devi Temple is on the way. The Triund Hill Trek is a must for keen birdwatchers too. Numerous species including Himalayan snowcock, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Shrike etc can be spotted here. Further, the trail leads to the Laka Glacier and onwards to the wind-swept Indrahara Pass that connects the Chamba and Kangra valleys.
Trekking Distance: 7 km (one-way)
Duration: 3 hrs
On the Triund Hill Trek
A 3 km trek from Ghera (20 km by bus from Dharamshala) will bring you to gaddi settlement of Kareri. The Kareri Lake lies 13 km ahead. From Ghera, there is a jeepable road but it is better to skip that and take the gaddi trails along the mountainside. The mighty snow-capped peaks of the Dhauladhars stand tall along the eastern end of the village. Most of the trail winds along the Nyund stream, through mixed forests of oak, pine and rhododendrons, and boulder strewn lush meadows. The Himalayan Cobra lilies are common here. Birds like the Asian Paradise Flycatcher and various others can be spotted here.
Trekking Distance: 3 km (one-way)
Duration: 5-6 hrs
On the way to Kareri Village
The Bhagsu Nag Trek is probably the most frequented day trek around Dharamshala. The ancient Shiva temple stands 2 km above McLeodganj in the gaddi village of Bhagsu. The trek is small but scenic. There is a small natural swimming pool here but it is packed with tourists most of the times. Both the villages of Bhagsu and Dharamkot wear a distinct hippy trait. Many young Israelis have settled here over the years. A steep 1 km trail from the temple brings you to a waterfall. Be warned that the trail is mossy and slippery. A number of outdoor cafes have sprouted along the way.
Trekking Distance: 3 km (one-way)
Duration: 2-3 hrs
Bhagsu Nag Waterfall (Image Courtesy: Makemytrip.com)
The Guna Devi Temple Trek runs through some of the most beautiful landscapes and presents countless photography opportunities. Starting from McLeodganj, the trail passes the Dal Lake before ascending to the charming Tibetan Children Village and Naddi village. From here, a gradual descent will bring you to the Bhated River. It is a steep climb to Balgaon from where the trail bifurcates with one route going towards Kareri Village and the other towards Dharamkot. We take the former. The temple is a little distance away and is dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Trekking Distance: 15 km
Duration: 6-7 hrs
Guna Devi Temple (Image Courtesy: TripAdvisor.com)
Located at an altitude of 2000 m in the Chola Village, the Indru Nag Temple is dedicated to the God of snakes or the God of rain. Beautiful forests of pine and cedar mark the area. From atop the hill, spectacular vistas can be enjoyed. The sunset is particularly enticing. One can see the waters of the Pong Dam being lit up in the dying red of the sun. Panoramic views of Dharamshala and the Kangra valley can be enjoyed from here.
Trekking Distance: 12 km
Duration: 4-5 hrs
A pair of birds on the trail
The mountains around McLeodganj are excellent for short treks. The countryside is lush. There are a number of villages and lakes. Day treks are perfect for those who do not want to go on a longer trek but want to experience nature and local life up close. Have you been on any of these treks?
Article by: Mohana Das