Dharamshala is the district headquater of Kangra district. This is a hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 18kms. north east of Kangra town. Hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snow line is perhaps more easily accessible at Dharamshala than at any other hill resort and it is possible to trek to snow point after an early morning's start.
In 1905, tragedy struck Dharamshala when an earthquake levelled it completely. After its reconstruction, Dharamshala flourished as a quiet health resort. It is divided into two distinct parts. Lower Dharamshala has civil offices and business establishments with courts.Kotwali Bazar and Upper Dharamshala compose of places with names which bear witness to its history like McLeod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj. Since 1960, when it became a temporary hqrs. of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Dharamshala has risen to international fame as "The Little Lhasa in India".
PLACES OF INTEREST
A number of residential buildings, restaurants, antique and curio shops, together with famous Tibetan institutions have lent importance to McLeod Ganj. The Budha temple is situated opposite to the present abode of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and is worth a visit. The Tibetan Institute of performing Arts (TIPA) is 1km. walk from McLeod Ganj and preserves a number of musical dance and theatrical traditions of Tibet. It holds an annual 10-day folk opera commencing on the second Saturday of April. There is also a Tibetan handicraft centre situated at McLeod Ganj and a Sunday market is organized at about 10 minutes walk from here.
Just 4-kms from Dharamsala is Norbulinka. This place has heavy Japanese influence. The Norbulingka Institute of Tibetan Culture was founded by the Department of Religion and Culture to preserve and promote Tibetan art and culture in exile.
In 1575 Sonam Gyatso, the Third Dalai Lama, officially founded a monastery, which later came to be known as Namgyal Dratsang (Victorious Monastery), is open from sunrise to sunset each day. The temple has three main images:
• Lord Buddha or Sakyamoni in gilded bronze.
• Guru Padmasambhava
• Avalokiteshvara (The deity of compassion) in silver with eleven faces
The same temple complex has another temple called Kalachakra Temple (The Temple of The Wheel of Time).
It is one of the several residential schools in Tibetan settlements throughout India. TCV in Upper Dharamsala, which began as an orphanage for Tibetan children, is now a full-fledged senior secondary modern school catering to over 2400 children. A visit to TCV gives a glimpse of how a refugee community takes care of each and every child of the community.
TIBETAN MEDICAL AND ASTROLOGICAL INSTITUTE:
The Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute (TMI) is an apex Tibetan Institute for training doctors in Tibetan system of medicine. The Astrological section of TMI trains students in the complex astrological calculations based on their system reputed to be over 2000 years old. The Astro section also prepares Horoscopes.
THE LIBRARY OF TIBETAN WORKS AND ARCHIVES:
Established in 1971 the Library is a house of rare books, cultural objects and current literature on Tibet. Besides, the library runs courses on Tibetan language, Buddhism and philosophy. The library also has a small museum that houses some of the oldest Buddhist statues and Thangka paintings.
At a distance of 11 kms. from Lower Dharamshala, Bhagsunag can be approached by road, here an old temple, a fresh water spring and restaurant are located. Further about 2 kms. is beautiful Bhagsunag water falls which sooths one's eyes.
The church of St. John's in the wilderness lies on a motorable road between McLeod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj 8 kms. from Lower Dharamshala. It has a monument of Lord Elgin, one of the Viceroys of India, who died in Dharamshala and was buried here in 1863.
The lake lies amidst hills and stately fir trees 11kms. from Lower Dharamshala connected by motorable road. It is the starting point of excursions and trekking and is located next to the Tibetan Children's village.
Situated on the crest of hill 11kms. from Dharamshala. This picnic spot affords a panoramic view of the Kangra valley, Pong Dam lake and Dhauladhar ranges.
TRIUND (2975 m):
20 kms. from Dharamshala, Triund lies at the feet of the perpetually snow clad Dhauladhar at the height of 2975 m . The snow line starts at ilaqa, 5 kms. from Triund. It is a popular picnic and trekking spot.
Set amidst beautiful surroundings , this memorial is built near the entry point to Dharamshala to commemorate the memory of those who fought valiantly for the defence of the motherland.
A level 3kms. walk from Kotwali Bazar leads upto the rock temple of the local goddess.
The famous temple of Jwalamukhi is 30kms. from Kangra and 56 kms from Dharamshala. Dedicated to the "GODDESS OF LIGHT", the temple is one of the most popular Hindu temples in northern India. There is no idol of any kind the flame is considered as a manifestation of the goddess. An eternally burning and shining blue flame emanates from the rock sanctum and is fed by the priests with the offerings of devotees. The golden tower (dome) of the temple was a gift from the Emperor Akbar.
It is situated 41 kms. from Dharamshala and can be approached by road the natural cave temple of Trilokpur contains a stalactite and stalagamite is dedicated to Shiva. High on the ridge of the cave are ruins of a palace and baradari (audience hall) of Lehna Singh Majitha, Governor of Kangra hills during the Sikh rule.
66kms. from Dharamshala , Nurpur is famous for an old fort and a temple of Brij Raj. Nurpur acquired its name in 1672, when Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor named it after his wife Nurjahan. Nurpuri shawls are good.
Known for its monolithic rock temples, Masrur is 15kms. south of Kangra. There are 15 rock cut temples in Indo-Aryan style and richly carved. The temples partly ruined now are profusely decorated with sculptural ornamentations , conceived in the same manner as the great temple of Kailash at Elora in Maharastra with which they bear a striking resemblance. The main temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita.
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