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  • The dream of every backpacker, McLeod Ganj is a suburb located in Upper Dharamsala, on the Garhwal range. The snow-clad Hanuman Ka Tibba forms a fitting backdrop to the tranquil McLeod Ganj. Since the exile of the Government of Tibet, McLeod Ganj has become the seat of the Dalai Lama and is an important centre of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. Befittingly known as Little Lhasa, the town is home to scores of important temples, monasteries and other ancient complexes. 

    The scenic hilltop has seen a surge in the number of tourists flocking over the years, with absolutely charming markets selling souvenirs, thangkas and handicrafts to local restaurants dishing out scrumptious Tibetan delicacies, and not to forget the town’s proximity to a handful of the best treks in India. The noteworthy places to visit in McLeod Ganj are tailored for the ultimate relaxation that travelling can offer you.

    Here are some of the best places to visit in McLeod Ganj:

  • 01The Dalai Lama’s Temple

    The Dalai Lama’s Temple
    Image Credit : Jeff and Neda Fields - Flickr

    The huge complex is also known locally as Tsuglagkhang, this is the residence of the Dalai Lama. Although the private residence of His Holiness is out of bounds for tourists, the complex comprises of several shrines, temples, a Tibetan museum and souvenir stores. Each day, students congregate in the courtyard of the Namgyal Monastery and study ancient Buddhist philosophy—which makes for a highly intriguing visit. 

    A massive gilded statue of Buddha and two smaller statues of Guru Rinpoche and Chenresig stand amid natural serenity that the complex is filled to the brim with. 

    Following many bloody sacrifices, parts of the statues situated inside the largest shrine here were brought over from Tibet. The chanting, drumming and the soft flowing of monks brush past you, and this iconic place to visit in McLeod Ganj is also the nerve centre of the town’s distinct culture.

    Image Credits : Nick Lockey - Flickr


    Lingkhor is a meditation trail that one must not miss. Dotted with small shrines and stupas, a rare opportunity to indulge in the intrinsic soulfulness presents before yourself. A small western hall next to the main shrine is the Kalachakra temple, where the extremely fine work on murals are showcased on its walls. Other shrines are full of similar detailed works, and the Dalai Lama temple is a short walk away from the centre of the town.

  • 02Bhagsunath Temple and Bhagsu Waterfall

    Bhagsunath Temple and Bhagsu Waterfall
    Image Credit : Rochak Chauhan - Flickr
    Legend has it that King Bhagsu incurred the wrath of the snake god, and following a war, the king was pardoned. In honour of the snake god’s generosity, King Bhagsu built the shrine. This medieval Shiva temple is one of the most important places to visit in McLeod Ganj and is frequented by members of both Hindu and Gorkha communities. The location of the temple is surrounded by pristine-looking coniferous forests, hills and a cascading waterfall that flows through the temple itself!

    Crowded at times, hallowed pools in the vicinity are said to have been built by subsequent Gorkha rulers, into which the waterfall which is 500 metres away collects into. Swimming in the pool is open to public, and the cool dip is held sacred by devotees. The 30-feet Bhagsu Waterfall is a sight to behold, and is a mere two kilometres away from McLeod Ganj. Short, casual treks around the place are a wonderful to explore the scenery, with a slew of cafes around providing refreshments. 
  • 03Saint John’s Church in the Wilderness

    Saint John’s Church in the Wilderness

    Constructed in 1852, the church was built on the lines of neo-gothic architecture and is dedicated to John the Baptist. Around 50 years after being built, the Kangra earthquake destroyed the church’s bell tower—leaving the rest of the church undamaged. The church is embedded amid a grove of Deodars, with a quaint graveyard lying in the same grounds. Lord Elgin, once the Governor-General and Viceroy of India is known to have been mesmerised by McLeod Ganj so much, that he wished for it to be the summer capital of India. 

    His final resting place lies very close to the church. The enchanting glass windows painted by a Belgian artist is known to have been gifted by Lady Elgin, the wife of Lord Elgin. Not far from the main square of the town, the Church of St John’s in the Wilderness is an important place to visit in McLeod Ganj, and is on the road to Forsyth Ganj. Your chance to experience the remnants of the days when it was a treasured British hill station is here.

  • 04Dal Lake

    The slopes of McLeod Ganj have one of the most picturesque lakes around. Named after the more-celebrated Dal Lake in Srinagar, this small lake is close to a beautiful village called Tota Rani. Flanked by Deodar trees, that are so typical of the region, lend the lake a mystical ambiance. A small shrine dedicated to Durveshwar Mahadev causes Dal Lake to be considered sacred, and a festival-fair held every year is evidence of that. The mid-altitude lake takes a greenish-hue and has varieties of fish inhabiting the water. 

    The mist in the mornings and evenings make Dal Lake the perfect place for an introspective walk alone, or with the beloved. If you’re lucky, boating in the lake is an amazing experience, when available. The lake next to the Tibetan Children’s village is a nice stopover before you proceed to other attractions, and is regularly listed in the places to visit in McLeod Ganj. A kilometre-and-half from Dal Lake is a spot in Naddi that offers a scintillating view of the Kangra valley and Dhauladhar peaks, and is famous as a sunset point.

  • 05Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium

    Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium
    Image Credit : Roshan Panjwani - Flickr

    At 1317 metres above sea level, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium is one of the highest altitude cricket grounds in the world! The Dhauladhar range looming at a distance are an enthralling sight, and the ground had Pakistan, its first international team visiting the stadium in 2005. 

    When in Dharamsala, make sure to drop by at this spectacular venue for a dose of fresh, chilly winds blowing past the stands you are standing in. 

    Image Credits : Roshan Panjwani - Flickr


    As you enter, be prepared to be astounded by the abundant natural beauty that makes this stadium unique in India—with potential to be one of the most popular venues in the country. The 25,000 capacity HPCA stadium regularly hosts Ranji Trophy and Indian Premier League matches. Very close to McLeod Ganj, HPCA is fast gaining popularity on the itinerary of places to visit in McLeod Ganj.

  • 06Triund

    Triund
    Image Credit : Aleksandr Zykov - Flickr

    Constituting one of the top trekking trails in the country, the 9000-foot ridge behind the Dhauladhar range is Triund. Situated just nine kilometres away from McLeod Ganj, the extremely popular nine-kilometre trek is much sought-after. The Triund trail begins from Tushita road which is a not far from the main square. 

    The trail is also blessed with a view of the Moon Peak-Indrahar Pass, and it only gets better with snow-engulfed Dhauladhar Mountains on one side, and the Kangra valley on the other. If you are even remotely interested in bird-watching, this trek will amaze you with rare sightings.

    Image Credits : Ashish Gupta - Flickr


    Often described as the crown jewel of Dharamsala, the evening sky will compel you to camp overnight and soak in the comforting lap of the Himalayas. Trekking at Triund remains one of the most popular adventure destinations from McLeod Ganj, suiting beginners and professional hikers alike. Make sure to be here during the months between March and December at one of the most adventurous places to visit in McLeod Ganj.

  • 07Dharamkot

    Dharamkot
    Image Credit : Axel Drainville - Flickr

    Dharamkot is a village adjoining McLeod Ganj that oozes sparkling sceneries. Just three kilometres to the north of McLeod Ganj, forests of towering pines and rhododendrons welcome you to experience bliss first-hand. Not far from Dal Lake, the festival-fair organized every year adds to the vividness of Dharamkot. More spellbinding views of the Dhauladhar range await you, and a spiritual retreat at one of the several dedicated centres is just a step away. 

    Although located only a stone’s throw away, the village of Dharamkot is in complete contrast to the Tibetan realms of McLeod Ganj. Trek to the villages at Naddi and Triund, which are right around the bend, and delve into the offerings of bountiful nature. A few cafes en route to Dharamkot sees the crowd dwindling, and peace is on the offing at throwaway prices. 

    Image Credits : Dave Kleinschmidt - Flickr


    One of the most popular things to do among hikers is to rent a room in relatively noiseless Dharamkot and travel back and forth to McLeod Ganj—with the goal being solitude. Getting one’s own stock of alcohol from a kilometre away and chilling in the cafes is another one of travellers’ favourites. 

  • 08Nowrojee and Sons General Stores

    Holding a special place in the hearts of early Tibetans on exile, Nowrojee and Sons is a store located close to the Tsuglagkhang complex. Started in 1860 by a Parsi man who welcomed Dalai Lama himself, Nowrojee and Sons remains one of the oldest businesses of McLeod Ganj. As time passed, five generations have run the iconic store and is one of the very few buildings to have withstood the destruction of the 1905 Kangra earthquake.

    A variety of memorabilia from the colonial era decorate the insides of Nowrojee and Sons, and the shop itself is reminiscent of the architecture prevalent in the long-gone past. Located in the heart of the Main Square in McLeod Ganj, it wouldn’t be a mistake to call it a museum. If you are looking to trace the heritage of the town, which is closely attached to the Tibetans, this is among the best of McLeod Ganj’s tourist places. The shopping affair in the markets, which sell items, artefacts and clothes relating to the Buddhist-Tibetan culture at the square is an added bonus. 
  • 09Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa

    Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa
    Image Credit : Lisa Tully - Flickr
    300 metres downwards on the steep hillside of McLeod Ganj is a very popular monastery. The Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa was actually constructed to replace the original monastery bearing the same name in Tibet—after being destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in China. Descending a few hundred stairs from the town, the Dip Tse-Chok Ling monastery has a captivating statue of Sakyamuni. A curious Tibetan custom of making beautiful butter sculptures every Losar (the Tibetan New Year), and destroying it the following year is a continuing tradition at this Gompa.

    This is meant to signify that even the most beautiful and the most cherished things are meant to pass on. An idyllic trail from the Dip Tse-Chok Ling monastery leads you to the Tsuglagkhang complex—a momentary escape from the worldly chaos. This gem of a place is neatly tucked away from all hustle and bustle, and ranks among the best of McLeod Ganj’s tourist places.
  • 10Masroor Rock-Cut Temple

    Masroor Rock-Cut Temple

    The 15-temple complex is an astonishing example of ancient rock-cut architecture in India. A short drive from McLeod Ganj, it is counted among the hidden gems around and the sights subdue the bumpy ride here. The ornately carved cluster of monolithic rock-cut shrines are among the most unexplored temples in Himachal Pradesh, and the crowds are sparse. Partially in ruins, this stunning monument is believed to have been built between the sixth and the eighth centuries. 

    The Masroor temple complex is set on a hill, in front of which is a rectangular pond that’s filled with water all year round. The elaborate nest of monolithic temples has three black stones of Ram, Sita and Lakshman in the central shrine called Thakurdwara, with Shiva occupying a paramount location inside it. Legend states that the Masroor temple complex was carved by the Pandavas during their Agyaat Vaas. The surrounding environment maintains the aura of an era bygone, and is comparable with other rock-cut architecture marvels such as the Rashtrakuta-built Kailasa at Ellora and the Pallavan temple complexes at Mahabalipuram. 

    The reflection of the rock-cut temples on the pond before it are simply indescribable for the beauty on offer. Counted on top of the most exhilarating places to visit in McLeod Ganj, the view of the snow-draped Dhauladhar Mountains from the temple premises is unmatchable. An ideal amalgam of awe-inspiring man-made wonder and untouched natural beauty indeed. A compulsory visit.

    Other important places to visit in McLeod Ganj include the Tatwani Hot Water Springs, Tibetan Children’s Village, Kunal Pathri Temple, Aghanjar Mahadev Temple Trek and many, many others. McLeod Ganj tourist places speak directly to your soul. Start packing!


Attractions

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Roopkund Trek

Counted among the best treks in India, the Roopkund trail is a trekker’s paradise. Roopkund’s topography is complete with verdant forests, acres and acres of open meadows, trickling brooks, and the celestial snow of course. Roopkund also comprises of the eerie Skeletal Lake, and is great for one’s initiation into high-altitude trekking. Pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons make Roopkund one of the compulsory trekking places near Delhi.

Distance from Delhi: 308 Kilometres approximately

Nearest Railhead: Kathgodam Railway Station

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Kuari Pass Trek

Kuari Pass which signifies doorway is one of the best treks in Uttaranchal. It is also known as Curzon trail as this trekking trail was discovered by Lord Curzon in 1905. The panoramic views of the eastern slopes of the majestic Garhwal Himalayas, Neelkanth, Mana, Hathi Ghori Parvat, Bertholi, Trishul, Dronagiri, Kamet and Nanda Devi peaks can be experienced on Kuari Pass Trek.

The trek has dense deodar, ok and rhododendron forests which present a picturesque view. Rare and protected flora and fauna can be found on this trail.  The trek passes via major rivers like Mandakini, Kaliganga and Dhauli Ganga .The ideal time to visit here is in summers.

Best Season: December - January
Duration: 6-8 Days
Max. Elevation: 4,264 m

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Dodital Trek

Dodital trek is a short trek and must to do when you are on trekking in Uttaranchal tour. Difficulty ranges from easy to moderate through thick forests and across majestic Himalayas landscapes, large meadows and stream crossings.  

The trek begins from Sangamchatti (kalyani) road near Uttarkashi and completes at the Hanumanchatti. From Dodital Lake, you will need to trek uphill to reach the Darwa pass, also called as Bakaria Khaga pass. The alpine meadows of Kanasar are an ideal place for camping.

Best season: May - October
Duration: 10 Days
Altitude: 4150 m

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Chandrashila Trek

With the enthralling Kedarnath range to the north, the Chandrashila Peak offers splendid panoramic vistas. Literally meaning the ‘Moon Rock’, Chandrashila is incidentally the highest peak in the area. A low altitude trek that’s full of cavernous gorges and vivid imagery, the season for trekking is round the year. With gradients suiting beginners, Chandrashila trek allows eyeful glimpses of Garhwal Himalayas and the trek passes through an ancient Shiva temple atop Tungnath.

Distance from Delhi: 455 Kilometres approximately

Nearest Railhead: Rishikesh Railway Station

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Mansa Devi Temple

Manasa Devi Temple seems to have a significant space among the minds of the devotees of Shakti, the goddess this temple is dedicated to. Perched on the top of Bilwa Parvat on the Sivalik Hills, the temple offers a splendid view of the mighty Ganges and the holy city of Haridwar. Rather than being a pilgrim centre, the temple makes its value higher among the adventure seekers as well because, the temple is accessible either only by trekking the high altitude or taking the recently established rope way. Chandi Devi Temple located very close to this shrine attracts a large number of devotees everyday as there is a belief that the two forms of Goddess Parvati, Mansa and Chandi stay close to each other.
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Yamunotri

Being the source of the River Yamuna, Yamunotri has a lot of significance in history as well. It is situated at a height of 3293 meters. Yamunotri is considered to be the supreme among the four sites of India’s Chhota Char Dham pilgrimage. The temple dedicated to Goddess Yamuna is the prime attraction here along with the charming holy thermal springs at Janki Chatti. It was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The whole location arranges the best features such as lush green meadows, glacier sights and revamping climate throughout the year. But majorly, the difficulty to reach the top extends a thrilling experience to those who love adventure and escapades. You can reach the location by walking through the rugged plains and roads, 6 KM from Hanuman Chatti and 4 KM from Janki Chatti.
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Deer Park

After Rajaji National Par, Malsi Deer Park is the most visited wildlife centre in Dehradun. This is a mini zoological park turned out to be one of the favourite picnic spots or hangout places in the city, ideal for family outings or school excursions. The herds of deer meandering freely in their habitat through the scenic Malsi reserve forest area ensures an amazing sight before the eyes of its visitors, incomparably beautiful. Unlimited number of birds can also be found inside the park together giving a mind blowing views. For kids, there are fun rides and space for games also. The weekend witnesses the flooding of people towards the park. The park is situated just 10 KM away from Dehradun city at Mussoorie Road.
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Rishikesh

Visit the adventure capital of India, the marvelous and thrilling city of Rishikesh on your next vacation with your friends and family!  The 'Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas', Rishikesh is located at the base of the Himalayas and is blessed with the gorgeous, thundering river of Ganga, the popular trek friendly rugged terrains, challenging peaks, strenuous rapids and dense forests! If you are an ardent traveler, then Rishikesh makes for one of the most ideal weekend getaways near Delhi.

Being one of the holiest cities in India, Rishikesh is quite famous for its scenic landscape and serves as a gateway to other important religious centers such as Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The adventurer paradise is a happening hub of many ancient temples and attractions such as Gita Bhawan, Laxman Jhula, Bharat Mandir, Neelkanth Mahadev, Swarga Ashram, Triveni Ghat amongst others! Grab your cameras and adventure gear and head to Rishikesh for an adventure packed holiday!

Distance from Delhi: 228km

Best time to visit: Throughout the year

Attractions: Triveni Ghat, Ram and Lakshman Jhula, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple and Vashista Cave

Activities: River Rafting, Bungee Jumping, Camping, Rappelling, Rock Climbing and Trekking 

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Lakshman Jhula

Rishikesh is not only about religious beliefs, ghats or temples; within this ancient city, you can also witness some of the architectural marvels and structures as well! One such structure, the Lakshman Jhula, which is also one of the not to be missed places to visit in Rishikesh, is a suspension bridge that connects Tehri and Pauri districts of Uttarakhand.

The existence of this bridge dates back to the age of Ramayana. According to the legends, Lakshman; brother of Lord Rama, crossed the holy Ganga River at this spot over a jute bridge. Centuries after this pious incident, a 284ft hanging bridge was built in the same spot by Rai Bahadur Surajmal Jhunjhunwala.

However, the bridge got washed away during the epidemic flood of 1924, and later, a pillar-less suspension bridge was erected at the same spot. The architecture brilliance of Lakshman Jhula and its proximity to several sacred places make it one of the most visited tourist places in Rishikesh.
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Binsar Trek

Binsar is a beautiful hill station valley of flowers which offers breathtaking views of the Kumaon Valley. The beautiful Himalayan range stretches to about 300 kms along the horizon out of which the most noticeable peaks are the Chaukhamba, Trishuli, Kedarnath, Panchchuoli, Nanda Kot and Nanda Devi.

The Binsar trek begins from Thalisain towards Pauri. The trek leads through thick forests of oaks, pine, silver fir and deodar that describe complete wilderness. The ascents and descents are gradual and the best time to visit is during winters. One can come across the Samadhi of the great Indian hero Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali situated at Musa Kota amidst Dudhatoli sanctuary.

The Binsar trek is an exciting experience and the trekkers can enjoy the beautiful views throughout the expedition. Binsar is enveloped with hanging moss, ferns, alpine flora, different varieties of wild flowers and forests where one can find rhododendron and oak trees.

If you are a bird watching enthusiast, during a trek in Binsar you will come across a number of beautiful and rare birds. The trek is rather simple and the forest cover will lead to small streams, lush green fields, but be careful of lion ants and tunnel spiders.

Best season: Mid September to early July
Duration: 3 Days
Altitude: 3030 m

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Swarga Ashram

Nestled amidst Lakshman Jhula and Rishikesh on the left bank of the Ganges and the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, the ambience that exists in Swarga Ashram is truly heavenly! While the picturesque surroundings of the ashram contributes much to its tranquil atmosphere, the devotion and spirituality that exists here makes it a paradise for those who seek mental peace and tranquillity!

The epicentre of yoga and meditation within the Garhwal gateway, it is among the most scenic and pleasant places to visit in Rishikesh. Established by Swami Atma Prakash, it can also be called as the home of the homeless, the abode of the needy and a place to relinquish the mind from all the miseries of the society. It offers living spaces to more than 100 people along with offering them free food and other kitchen facilities. A library in Swarga Ashram offers free education on religion and culture to the visitors.

It also has a hospital that offers free treatment to all the saints, pilgrims and others alike. You can reach this divine ashram either by a boat ride through the holy Ganges or by crossing the Ram Jhula. The ashram also has several shopping complexes that sells religious commodities, cultural books, ayurvedic shops, eateries and lot more.
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Dayara Bugyal

Counted among the most beautiful meadows in the country, the vibrant meadow of Dayara Bugyal has attained cult status among hikers. During the wintry months, the milky slopes are perfect for some alpine skiing. The Bhagirathi peaks, Kala Nag, Bandarpoonch are among scores of other peaks that loom around the meadow, and trekkers are particularly taken by many emerald lakes strewn across Dayara Bugyal. Another first-timer trek on the list, the best months to visit are between May to November, although experienced trekkers find the meadow laden with snow in winters irresistible.

Distance from Delhi: 425 Kilometres approximately

Nearest Railhead: Haridwar Railway Station
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Nag Tibba Trek

Annoy Tibba is a trekkers delight. Despite the fact that it is a moderately obscure trail close Mussoorie it can without much of a stretch be viewed as one of the greatest weekend treks that you can do out of Delhi. For the individuals who need to stroll in the backwoods, ascend to 10,000 feet, see snow clad mountains and camp under starry night skies the Nag Tibba trek is simply great. It presents dazzling perspectives of Bandarpoonch top, the Gangotri gathering of tops, Kedarnath crest in the north, Doon valley and the snow tops of Chanabang.

Annoy Tibba is otherwise called Serpent's Peak. It is the most elevated top (9915 ft) in the Nagtibba scope of the Garhwal Himalayas and is said to be the dwelling place Nag Devta. The trek takes you through thick woods rich in greenery. The benefit of this trek is that you can achieve the base of the Nagtibba range by jeep. This makes it conceivable to do it over a weekend.

Highlights – Trekking, Camping, Hiking

Location - Uttrakhand        

Difficulty Level: Average

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Ram Jhula

Another architectural marvel in the yoga capital of India, Ram Jhula is an important landmark of the city and is also one of the sought after Rishikesh tourist places. Located only 3km from the heart of the city, this 450ft suspension bridge connects the banks of the Ganges with Shivananda and Swarga ashrams at both of its end.

Also known as the 'Shivananda Jhula', this magnificent bridge was built during the late 80s by the regional government; the contribution of Shivananda Ashram Divine Life Society is very significant in the construction of Ram Jhula. Like the Lakshman Jhula, it was also once a jute bridge and serves as an important name in the list of places to visit in Rishikesh.

While crossing the bridge, you can enjoy the panoramic views of the Ganges and for the nature photographers, it serves as an ideal destination to click some amazing pictures!
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Tapkeshwar Temple

Dehradun houses one of its most visited temples, Tapkeshwar where Lord Shiva is the presiding deity. Blessed by natural extravagant sights abundantly, the prominent feature of this temple is the main Shivlinga that is kept sacredly inside a cave. The temple resides by the side of thick forests and the natural cave drops water from the roof little by little to give away the Shivlinga more beauty and in turn it appears as an amusing spectacle. The temple is existing in a location which is easily accessible, it is hardly six kilometers away from the city. Shivratri is the biggest festival celebrated at the temple when thousands of pilgrims come and pay tribute to the deity. The cool sulphur- water springs are an additional feature the temple proudly possesses within it. The devotees will take a bath in these springs before they enter inside the temple.
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Pt. G.B. Pant High Altitude Zoo, Nainital

The much endangered species found in the Himalayas are being protected carefully over Pt. G. B. Pant High Altitude Zoo located in Nainital. Royal Bengal Tiger, Tibetan Wolves, Sambar, Leopard Cat and Himalayan Bear are a few of the important ones one can spot in the zoo. Along with them there are different species of high altitude birds live happily. Sher ka Danda hill is the preserver of this zoo, perched on an altitude of 2100 meters and over 4.6 acres of serene forest. Built in 1984 and opened to public in 1995, the zoo is located just 2 KM away from Tallital Bus Station in Nainital, between Shivalik and middle Himalayan Ranges. The zoo is one of the prime attractions in Uttarakhand now.

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