Also known as Little Lhasa, Mcleodganj is the official residence of the Dalai Lama, and also a very popular tourist hub. Named after a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, this little town has immense spiritual significance. The Osho Nisagra (am Osho retreat center), the Chinmaya Tapovan (a Hindu retreat center), the Dalai Lama’s Main Temple, and Chamunda (a Hindu pilgrimage site) are all located in and around Mcleodganj.
Also known for its adventure activities, Mcleodganj serves as the basecamp for the very popular Triund Trek. Other popular attractions include the St. John in the Wilderness Church a rustic church located in the middle of a dense forest, the Bhagsu Nath Temple and waterfall, the small Dal Lake.
Apart from sightseeing, this town is also popular amongst food lovers due to its numerous cafes lined one after the other serving a wide variety of cuisines. Some of the most popular cafes include Nick’s Italian Kitchen, Illiterati, Jimmy’s Bakery and Shiva Café.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 5.2 kms
How to reach: The easiest way to reach Mcleodganj is by taking a bus to Dharamshala and then taking another one till Mcleodganj. The nearest airport to Mcleodganj is the Kangra Airport located 18 kilometers away.
Located in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Manali is one of the best places to visit near Dharamshala. This immensely popular holiday destination is located at an elevation of 2,050 meters and offers a majestic view of the Pir Panjal Range of the Upper Himalayas.
The most popular things to do in Manali include Hidimba Devi Temple, Bhrigu Lake trek and Jogini Falls. The quaint villages surrounding this big town like Naggar, Vashisht and Jagatsukh are great spots to unwind in peace and serenity. Solang is another famous spot near Manali known for its snow sports like skiing.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 234 kms
How to reach: The nearest major international airport to Manali is the Chandigarh airport. The Kullu- Manali airport at Bhuntar is closer to Manali but the frequency of flights is much lesser in this smaller airport. Joginder Nagar is the nearest railhead to Manali but Chandigarh and Ambala are the bigger railway stations close to this city.
Mostly known for being the second highest paragliding site in the world, Bir is also home to a Tibetan refugee settlement and notable for spiritual studies. Located in the Joginder Nagar Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Bir is one of the best places to visit near Dharamshala.
With a host of attractions, the most famous places in Bir include the Dharmalaya Institute, an eco-campus dedicated to sustainable development, ecotourism, and service. Other attractions include the Deer Park, Bir Tea Factory, Bir Tibetan Colony and the Chokling Gompa. Apart from these, there are a number of cafes in Bir popular amongst tourists.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 64 kms
How to reach: Bir is easily accessible from Dharamshala by road, and the nearest railway station to Bir is in Pathankot.
Situated on the banks of the Beas River in Kullu District, Naggar is an ancient town located close to the hippie city of Manali. Naggar remained the capital of the Kullu Kingdom for over 1400 years until the capital was relocated to Kullu. The Naggar Castle- one of the most popular tourist spots here- was built 500 years ago by Raja Sidh Singh from the stones of the abandoned Palace of Rana Bhosal.
The Naggar Palace is a true epitome of the astonishing Pahadi architecture. Another very famous tourist attraction here is the Nicholas Roreich Art Gallery- erstwhile home of the Russian painter and explorer who settled in the town in the 20th century.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 217 kms
How to reach: The nearest airport to Naggar is at Kullu, and the nearest railhead is at Joginder Nagar or Pathankot.
The capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla, also known as the Queen of Seven Hills, was also once the summer capital of India. Situated in the Shimla District, the city stretched to nearly 9.2 kilometers, with the highest point being the Jakhoo Hill, famous for the Jakhoo Temple with a massive Hanuman statue that is visible from almost anywhere in the city.
With its moderate summers, Shimla is one the most preferred places near Dharamshala. Major tourist attractions around the city include Shimla Ridge, Christ Church, Shali Tibba and Hatu Peak treks, Shimla- Kalka toy train and the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 236 kms
How to reach: The nearest airport to Shimla is the Shimla Airport itself located in Jubbarhatti, 22 kilometers away from the city. The closest international airport, and the closest railhead is Chandigarh.
Located in the Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh, Dalhousie is located over 5 hills at an elevation of 1,970 meters. With the beautiful Scottish British architecture of the city, strolling through Dalhousie makes for a great way to appreciate its rich historical importance.
Popular places to see here include the small village of Khajjiar, Panchpula waterfall, Dainkund Peak trek, and the Chamera Dam.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 116 kms
How to reach: The closest domestic airport from Dalhousie is in Pathankot, and the closest international airport is in Chandigarh. Pathankot is also the nearest broad gauge railhead from Dalhousie.
Prashar Lake is located near Mandi in the Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh. Set amidst the Pir Panjal Ranges, this lake can be accessed by road, with a local HRTC bus plying from Mandi daily, or can be reached via an easy trekking trail starting from the Bagi Village.
The lake holds a mystical aura to it because of the piece of land floating over it. Science has not yet been able to gauge the depth of this lake, or explain the island inside it. This unexplored nature of the lake attracts many visitors year after year. Beside the lake is also a three storeyed pagoda like temple dedicated to the sage Prashar Rishi, after whom the lake is named.
Prashar Lake is one of the best places near Dharamshala due to its stunning vistas of the upper Himalayas and lush green meadows rolled out on hills.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 166 kms
How to reach: The nearest railway station to the lake is at Kiratpur Sahib, and the nearest airport is at Kullu.
Famously called the Mini Switzerland of India, Khajjiar is known for its lush green sprawling meadows flanked by thick pine forests in its sides. Sitting on top of a small plateau, surrounded by meadows and lakes, Khajjiar is located just about an hour’s drive away from Dalhousie.
This laid back little town is known for its leisurely activities such as spending time at the lake, taking long walks through the forest, rolling down grassy slopes and horseback riding. A major tourist attraction here is the Kalatop Khajjiar Sanctuary covered densely with deodar and fir forest. With its rich flora and fauna, this makes for a perfect spot for a picnic or short hikes.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 117 kms
How to reach: The nearest airport to Khajjiar is the Kangra Airport, while the nearest railway station is at Pathankot. Dalhousie is the nearest big city from Khajjiar, easily accessible to major cities like Delhi and Chandigarh by road.
A major town of the Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh, Chamba is located at the banks of the confluence of the Ravi and Sal Rivers. The town is known for its large amount of temples and palaces, and for organizing two annual fairs or jatras- the Suhi Mata Mela and the Minjar Mela- lasting over several days including festivities like singing and dancing.
The most popular tourist attractions in Chamba include the Champavati Temple, Banni Mata Temple, Akhand Chandi Palace, and the Church of Scotland.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 153 kmsHow to reach: Located near to Dalhousie, Chamba is well connected by road to major cities like Delhi and Chandigarh. The nearest broad gauge railway station to Chamba is at Pathankot, and the nearest airport is at Kangra.
Lined with rhododendron trees, the entire trail is a sight to behold along with the 22 switchbacks that come en route. From the top, one can see a panoramic view of the Dhauladhar Mountains just out of reach, with the Mun Peak shining big and bright right in front of the ridge.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 13.5 kms
How to reach: There is no road till Triund. The only way to reach is by foot though the trekking trail, starting from the Galu Devi Temple in Mcleodganj.
Located in the foothills of Kangra town, this majestic fort is one of the most beautiful places near Dharamshala. This fort was built by the Royal Rajput family of Kangra of the Katoch Dynasty which traces its origin to the Trigarta Kingdom which finds mentions in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Standing at a steep cliff in Old Kangra, this fort was built strategically at the confluence of the Banganga and Majhi Rivers. There is also the Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch Museum located right by the fort, with information regarding the Kangra District dating back to centuries.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 20 kms
How to reach: One can take a bus or taxi from Dharamshala to Kangra to visit the fort.
One of the most beautiful places to visit near Dharamshala, Palampur is famously known as the tea capital of northwest India. Surrounded by lush green pine forests, Palampur is home to numerous streams flowing from the Dhauladhar Mountains into the town. Palampur is known for some of the most upscale markets in the entire Kangra Valley, home to both international and Indian brands.
The Neugal Café is one of the most popular attractions of Palampur, offering astounding views of the Dhauladhar Ranges and the Neugal Stream. Other activities include a short hike to Birni Mata Temple, hike to Bundla Falls, and India’s first bamboo museum in the Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 34 kms
How to reach: Palampur has its own narrow gauge railway station and the nearest airport to Palampur is the Kangra Airport. Palampur is also well connected to major cities like Delhi and Chandigarh by road.
Located in the Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh, Barot was a town originally developed for the Shanan Hydel Project, but is now a major tourist spot thanks to the very popular haulage trolley ride between Joginder Nagar and Barot. This town is also the gateway to the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary, located across the Uhl River, which is home to the monal, ghoral and the black bear.
Off late, Barot has also become a major angling destination thanks to the breeding of freshwater trout in Uhl River. Barot is also a popular trekking destination, with the Barot to Kothi trek, a 13 kilometers long trail, being the most frequented.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 110 kms
How to reach: The nearest railway station to Barot is at Joginder Nagar, while the broad gauge station is at Pathankot. Kullu Airport is the nearest to Barot.
Mandi is the administrative center of the Mandi District in Himachal Pradesh and is popularly known as the ‘Varansi of Hills’ due the large number of temples it is home to. Mandi is also an education hub of the state, being a home to the great Indian Institute of Technology.
Located on the banks of the Beas River, it also serves as a gateway to Lahaul. Mandi mostly follows an agrarian economy and some of the most famous tourist attractions here include the Tarna Temple, Bhimkali Temple, Prashar Lake, Rewalsar Lake, Hanogi Mata Mandir, and Pandoh Dam.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 142 kmsHow to reach: Mandi is well connected to most major cities like Delhi and Chandigarh by road. The nearest airport here is at Kullu and the nearest railway station is at Kiratpur Sahib.
Located at the confluence of the River Parvati and River Beas, Bhuntar is a small town located in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. Mostly known to be the pit stop for travelers heading on to Kasol in the Parvati Valley, Bhuntar also has other beautiful spots around it including Barshaini.
Bhutar is famous for its several temples including the most revered Bisheshwar Mahadev Temple in Bajaura. Other popular activities here include river rafting, trekking, angling and camping, making it one of the best places to visit near Dharamshala.
Distance from Dharamshala bus stand (ISBT): 186 kms
How to reach: The nearest airport to Bhuntar is the Kullu- Manali Airport and the nearest railhead is at Pathankot.