Home to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan government in exile, and starting point for some exhilarating treks into the high Himalayas, Dharamsala, or more correctly, its upper town McLeod Ganj, is one of Himachal’s most irresistible destinations. Spread across wooded ridges beneath the stark rock faces of the Dhauladhar Range, the town is divided into two distinct and separate sections, separated by 10km of perilously twisting road and almost 1000m in altitude. Originally a British hill station, McLeod Ganj has been transformed by the influx of Tibetan refugees fleeing Chinese oppression in their homeland. Tibetan influence here is subsequently very strong, with temples, schools, monasteries, nunneries, meditation centres and the most extensive library of Tibetan history and religion. As well as playing host to hordes of foreign and domestic tourists, McLeod Ganj is a place of pilgrimage that attracts Buddhists and interested parties from all over the world, including Hollywood celebrities such as Richard Gere and Uma Thurman. Many people visit India specifically to come here, and its relaxed and friendly atmosphere can make it difficult to leave.

Despite heavy snows and low temperatures between December and March, McLeod Ganj receives visitors throughout the year. Summer brings torrential rains – this being the second wettest place in India – that return in bursts for much of the year. Daytime temperatures can be high, but you’ll need warm clothes for the chilly nights.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Modernity is seeping into Old Delhi, a walled district that has long harboured the Indian capital’s traditional ways of life. But what does this mean for long…

13 Jun 2017 • Jack Palfrey local_activity Special feature
Video: the essence of India

Video: the essence of India

When Paris-based production company Bed & Breakfast reached out to us with a video that so perfectly captured the essence of India in all but a minute, we c…

04 May 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
In pictures: the little-visited treasures of South India

In pictures: the little-visited treasures of South India

After a week-long whistle-stop tour of central India's least-visited attractions, travel writer and photographer Lottie Gross shares her favourite photos. In…

07 Mar 2017 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month