A One-Stop Guide to Mcleod Ganj
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
The beautiful hill station of Mcleod Ganj, situated in Himachal Pradesh, is nestled at an altitude of 1700 meters and sits at the lap of the enchanting Dhauladhar ranges. Mcleod Ganj, also known as Mini Tibet, is rife with rich Tibetan culture, beautiful monasteries, and abundant scenic beauty. The vibe here is incredibly tranquil and serene, attracting thousands of people from all over the globe. Mcleod Ganj also is the seat of the 14th Dalai lama and serves as the center of the Tibetan government in exile. Owing to the strong Buddhist and Tibetan influence here, this location is also known as Little Lhasa. This post will give you a guide answering all your questions about Mcleod ganj and the amazing locations to visit here.
How to get to Mcleod Ganj
Mcleod Ganj is easily accessible, and you can reach the location via Air, rail, or by road.
The closest airport to Mcleod Ganj is the Kangra airport which is 17 km away. From here you can take a cab to reach the hill station of Mcleod Ganj.
The nearest railway station is the Pathankot railway station which is 89 km away from Mcleod Ganj. You can take a cab or a bus to cover the rest of the journey. It is advised to take a bus though as the distance is long and cabs may be very expensive.
You can also visit Mcleod Ganj from Delhi via cab or Volvo bus. The distance from Delhi to Mcleod Ganj is about 477 km and takes approximately 10 to 12 hours to cover. By bus the cost for travel may range from Rs 2000 to 3500 but is way less than a cab would cost which is approximately Rs 5000 to 10000 depending on the type of car.
The best mode of transport in Mcleod Ganj
The Best mode of transportation in Mcleod Ganj is using auto-rickshaws or walking. The autos are a cheaper mode of transportation than cabs but depending on where you stay, even autos may not be necessary. Autos and cabs are easily available throughout Mcleod Ganj.
When to visit
The best time to visit Mcleodganj is between March to June, when the location is pleasant, or between November and February, when the view of snow-capped mountains is absolutely serene.
Where to stay:
There are various hotels, guest houses, and hostels in McLeod Ganj for every budget and requirement. From high-budget resorts to beautiful homestay options. You can stay in resorts and hostels near Bhagsu, along with the main market, and near Dharamkot depending on your preferred location. However, as these locations are near each other you should choose the location which offers the best view or that is most convenient to you.
Read more about the travel experience from McLeod Ganj in the blog written by Medhavi Davda.
5 Locations you can not miss!!
The Tsuglagkhang Complex is one of the holiest Buddhist sites and is wrapped in spirituality and serenity. This location is visited by hundreds of pilgrims every year and offers an insight into the beautiful Buddhist heritage. The complex consists of the Tsuglagkhang temple, the Namgyal Monastery, Tibetan Museum and has multiple shrines with beautiful statues of Gautam Buddha, Guru Rinpoche, and Chenrezig.
a.) Namgyal Monastery
This monastery is said to be one of the largest monasteries in the world, and the view of the Dhauladhar range from here is truly magnificent. The monastery was set up in the 16th century and now is the seat of the 14th Dalai Lama. The interiors of the monastery are beautifully decorated with paintings, pictures, and sculptures and make you really appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the Buddhist culture. You can see many Buddhist monks meditating and chanting, and it is truly a serene and rejuvenating location.
b.) Tibetan Museum
The museum situated at the complex offers a peek into the Tibetian culture and the struggles endured by these people during the Tibetian migration. The museum is built with classic Tibetian architecture and houses many beautiful paintings, images, pottery, and sculptures. There is also a souvenir shop inside where you can buy gorgeous handicrafts and artifacts.
c.) Tsuglagkhang Dalai Lama Temple
Visiting the temple is a truly rejuvenating experience, with monks meditating and chanting at the temple truly creates a mesmerizing aura. The temple also houses the spinning wheels, which bring good karma for whoever spins it. The temple is a great spiritual experience that you must not miss.
Cost: Free to visit
Visiting timings: 5 am to 8 pm.
Ideal duration: 1.5 to 2 hours.
How to reach: Hire a private cab or auto-rickshaw to reach the complex easily from the city which is just 6 kilometers away. If you want to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the monastery then you can choose trekking to get to this location too.
Restraunts near here: After visiting the complex you must visit Lung-Ta, a great Japanese restraint around 1 km away from the complex. The ride via auto or cab should take 5 mins and you can enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine at this location. Definitely try the sushi.
2. Bhagsu Nath temple and Bhagsu falls:
The Bhagsu Nath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is perched at 1700 meters above sea level and surrounded by lush greenery and a beautiful view of the Himalayan terrain. The freshwater springs here are believed to be sacred and have healing and medicinal properties. From the temple, you can trek up to the Bhagsu Nath falls; a 20 meter falls surrounded by rocky cliffs. The trek to the falls is a little tough and requires a moderate fitness level, but the waterfall location's view is truly serene. You should definitely take a quick dip in the chilling water of the falls; it will rejuvenate your body and mind.
Cost: Free to visit
Visiting timing: 5 am to 9 pm
Ideal duration: 1.5 hours
How to reach: The temple is just 2 km from the McLeod Ganj bus stand and you can easily reach the location by autos or by simply walking here. The Bhagsu falls are less than 1 km away from the temple. You must trek to the location as there are no roads here and the trek is quite challenging and requires a moderate level of fitness.
Restraunts near here: Near the top of the falls you must visit the Shiva café, serving authentic Tibetian cuisine and other munchies. The hummus and pita bread here is to die for, and you can either sit outside, enjoy the great views or sit inside the café, decorated with psychedelic art and Bob Marley posters. You can play multiple games like ludo and chess inside the café and smoke from a Hukka. Trance music is played throughout the day and is a great place to embrace the hippie culture.
3. Trekking and Camping At Triund point:
The Triund Trek in Mcleodganj is a wonderful experience and is one of the most famous treks in Himachal Pradesh. The view from Triund is truly serene, with the snow-covered Dhauladhar mountains on one side and the aerial view of Dharamshala on the other. This location is highly recommended and is a paradise for nature and adventure lovers. The trek is very well laid out, and you do not need any guides for the trek. Staying at Triund is a beautiful experience with the chilling atmosphere and the beautiful starry sky. Triund is the jewel of Mcleodganj, and any trip to Mcleod ganj absolutely must cover Triund. You can also trek further from Triund to locations such as Hanuman ka Tibba, but it is only suggested to expert mountaineers, and you must have the necessary safety equipment to undergo further trekking.
Cost: Free to visit
Visiting timings: 5 am to 5 pm
Ideal duration: 8 to 9 hours
How to reach: Triund stands at an altitude of 9400 feet, and it is a 14 km trek to reach the location. The trek starts from the Dharamkot village and is an easy to moderate level trek. It should take around 4 to 5 hours to reach Triund, and visitors can either stay the night at the location in tents or come back down to Dharamkot. Dharamkot is just 2 km away from the main Mcleod Ganj bus stand and you can either walk to the location or use a cab or auto-rickshaw.
Restraunts near here: There are no restraunts along the trek or at Triund point. There is a stall at the Triund point which is great for hot magi and tea. Along the route, there are two additional stalls but they are far apart. It is advised to bring snacks and a lot of water for this trek.
Insider tip: The last 1 km of the trek is very steep so be careful but remember the view at Triund is absolutely worth the effort!
4. Tibetan institute of performing arts:
Tibetan Institute Of Performing Arts was built by the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, on his arrival to Mcleod ganj after being exiled from Tibet in 1959. The institute was built to preserve Tibetans' rich art and culture and is a beautiful location to visit. It is a great location to visit to experience the Tibetan culture and enjoy the work of trained experts in drawing, music, instruments, dance, and martial arts. The location is extremely serene and rejuvenating to visit and offers a good location for sightseeing. The simplicity of Tibetan culture and their rich heritage is mesmerizing and is a must-visit for anyone in Mcleod ganj. The institute showcases the beautiful and rich Tibetan art and culture through folk dances and music. Every year, in mid-summer, a nine-day traditional opera festival is held called the Shoton Festival.
Cost: The entry fee for this location is Rs50
Visiting timings: 9 am to 5 pm
Ideal Duration: 1.5 hours
How to reach: The Tibetan Institute Of Performing Arts is around 1.1 km from the Mcleod Ganj bus stand, and you can easily reach the location by walking or by auto-rickshaw.
Restraunts to visit: Definitely visit the food on call café just opposite the institute on the Dharamkot road. The food here is great. There is also the Vicky tree garden café near the institute where you can enjoy a delicious masala tea and some snacks.
5. Boating at Dal Lake:
Boating at Dal Lake in Mcleod Ganj a great way to spend some time with friends and family away from the bustle of Dharamshala. This experience is extremely serene and soothing, and the view of nature all around rejuvenates your mind and body. The lake is set at an altitude of 1,700 meters above sea level and is covered with verdant deodar forests. Also, there is a Lord Shiva temple and a tiny spring adjoining the lake which should definitely visit.
Cost: The cost of boating should range from around 250 to 300 Rs but these prices can fluctuate depending on the rush at the location.
Cost: Free to visit
Timing: 7 am to 8 pm
Ideal duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour
How to reach: The Dal lake is At a distance of 3 km from McLeod Ganj Bus Stand and 9 km from Dharamshala, and you can travel here via cabs, autos, trekking or private transportation. The lake is situated near the village of Tota Rani on Mcleodganj-Naddi road in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and is easy to find. It is recommended to take an auto to this location as the view along the route are not that great.
Restraunts near here: Definitely visit the Lhasa restraint, it is very close to the Dal lake and offers fantastic Tibetan cuisine. The view from the rooftop seating is amazing here and this location also serves Punjabi, Israeli and other cuisines. They also have a bar at the location.
Insider tip: Do not try to swim in the Dal lake as there are many snakes in the water!!
Mcleodganj is truly the Jewel of Dharamshala and has so many great locations to satisfy the needs of all travelers. This was our guide for visiting Mcleodganj. We hope this guide was helpful and that you thoroughly enjoy your trip to Mcleodganj, Dharamshala.