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Top Things To Do in Dharamshala, Mcleod Ganj, Dharamkot & Bhagsu!

September 22, 2019

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The area of Dharamshala up in Himachal Pradesh is a must-visit on your trip to India if you love the mountains, want to be around good vibe people and if you feel like you want a bit of a break from India.

Check out my full Dharamshala travel guide here for more information on how to get to Dharamshala and where to stay out of the 3 main places within Dharamshala – Mcleod Ganj, Dharamkot and Bhagsu.

And in the meantime here are the best things to do in Dharamshala and with a bit of walking involved you can do all of these things from any base. (Be prepared to walk here, and walk up and down hills, that’s all I’m saying!)

To SEE the area, check out my YouTube video here!

Things to do in Mcleod Ganj.

Visit the Dalai Lama Temple – This is one of the top things to do in Mcleod Ganj because Dharamshala is now the home of the Dalai Lama so you have to visit his temple. It’s not the most impressive temple I’ve ever seen but it is a fairly big complex and it’s nice to walk around the different areas and see the incredible views of the mountains from here.

Dharamshala McLeod Ganj Travel Guide Dalai Lama Temple

The Dalai Lama Temple.

Dharamshala McLeod Ganj Travel Guide Dalai Lama Temple

The Dalai Lama Temple.

See the Dalai Lama – Although the Dalai Lama travels a lot around the world and around India, it’s worth checking to see if he’s around when you’re in Dharamshala so you can go to one of his teachings or ceremonies in the Dalai Lama Temple in Dharamshala!

You can view the Dalai Lama’s schedule here to check if your dates match. I went to one of his morning ceremonies and it was amazing to see him in real life. Here is more information on how to see the Dalai Lama in India.

Learn the History of Tibet at the Tibet Museum – This is a must-visit in McLeod Ganj too. It’s right next to the Dalai Lama temple so you should visit both places at the same time. The museum explains the history of Tibet and why it is in the situation it is in today along with why the Dalai Lama now lives in India and why do so many other Tibetans.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about the history of Tibet before arriving in Dharamshala and it kind of surprised me when I saw so many Tibetans in McLeod Ganj when I arrived, but it all made sense after visiting. The history (and the current day situation) is really shocking so you really should visit this museum in Dharamshala and I recommend visiting the museum on your first day as it will help you understand the area and people better. If you want to start reading up now, look into the history of Tibet from 1950-Present here!

Dharamshala McLeod Ganj Travel Guide Tibet Museum

Tibetan History at the Museum of Tibet.

Volunteer with Tibetans – I feel like you’re sensing a theme here and that’s because the town of Mcleod Ganj is home to many Tibetans with a huge Tibetan influence. I really liked this and it’s what made me feel like I was no longer in India when I arrived after already spending a month travelling around Rajasthan.

Tibetan people are the loveliest people and there are ways to volunteer with Tibetans in Dharamshala long term and short term. From what I’ve heard, the need to speak and learn English and other languages like French is welcomed here. Places you can volunteer at are Tibet World and Stories of Tibetans

tibet world entrance gate to volunteer with tibetans | things to do in Mcleod Ganj

Tibet World Entrance in Mcleod Ganj.

Visit Mcleod Ganj Temple – In the middle of Mcleod Ganj’s two small but busy streets is a temple. The main thing to do is to walk around it and turn the prayer wheels and there’s another big prayer wheel inside. This isn’t something yo go out of your way for but it’s nice to see when walking down the street.

Mcleod Ganj Temple | things to do in McLeod Ganj

Mcleod Ganj Temple.

Eat Tibetan Food – Final point on the Tibetan Culture in Mcleod Ganj is to eat some Tibetan Food whilst you’re in the town, this will be especially good if you have been in India for a while and need something over than Indian Food for a meal or two. I’d suggest going to Tibet Kitchen in the centre of Mcleod Ganj. Or you can get some Momos from the street stalls. Tibetan Food is the perfect food to warm you up too.

Go to Illiterati Cafe – This is the best cafe in Mcleod Ganj due to the views, uniqueness and quirkiness of it. It’s a bit of a walk downhill from McLeod Ganj to Illiterati Cafe but it’s well worth it! It is filled with books, nice seating and it has balcony views of the mountains. They offer mainly international foods, nice drinks and good cake! 

Illiterati Cafe Dharamshala McLeod Ganj | things do to in Mcleod Ganj

Illiterati Cafe Dharamshala McLeod Ganj

If you’re still looking for accommodation and think you would like to be based in Mcleod Ganj, I really recommend Ram Yoga House, I’ve stayed there twice and I love the location, the rooftop yoga shala and the mountain views from the room!

Related Post: My Full Dharamshala Travel Guide.

Sunrise from Ram Yoga House Dharamshala McLeod Ganj

Do you want to wake up to views like this?? Check out Ram Yoga House!

Things to do in Bhagsu.

Walk to Bhagsu Falls – This is the most popular thing to do in Bhagsu and the biggest tourist attraction in Bhagsu. It isn’t the most impressive waterfall in the world and it’s very easy to get to via a path from lower Bhagsu which means it’s very touristy and heavily visited by many Indian tourists as well as foreign tourists, but it’s something to do to pass an hour or so.

Walking to Bhagsu Falls is a good way to get a sweat on as there are quite a few steps up to the base of the waterfall and plenty of cafes to stop at along the way. It is possible to bathe in the base of the waterfall and in some pools lower down so bring a change of clothes if you fancy this.

Bhagsu Water Falls Views | things to do in bhagsu

Bhagsu Waterfall from the start of the walk up.

Bhagsu Waterfall base with monks by water | things to do in Bhagsu

This is the base of the waterfall.

Go to Shiva Cafe at the top of Bhagsu Falls – When you get to the base of the waterfall where loads of other people will be too, keep walking up the path and steps all the way up until you reach Shiva Cafe. (Be aware that at the base of the falls there is a cafe called Shiva Cafe, this is not the right one).

Shiva Cafe is a really cool cafe and area that plays good music with cool seating inside and outside, and it has a really nice vibe. The best thing is that only people who can be bothered will walk all the way to the top.

Shiva Cafe Bhagsu Falls Sign | things to do in Bhagsu

Look out for this sign for Shiva Cafe.

Eat Bhagsu Cake – Yes there is a cake named after the town of Bhagsu. It’s sold in many of the cafes in Bhagsu and it’s delicious. If you’re wondering ‘what is Bhagsu Cake?’, well, it’s a bit like a millionaire shortbread and the chocolate should be made from cacao if it’s made right, this is what I heard anyway. 

Cacao is a heart opener and gives us a bit of extra energy so this is why it’s said that people feel good after eating Bhagsu Cake!

Bhagsu Cake from German Bakery in Bhagsu | things to do in Bhagsu

Bhagsu Cake in the German Bakery in Bhagsu.

Do Yoga – There’s lots of yoga in Dharamshala on offer, especially in the high summer season. The best places for yoga in Dharamshala are in Dharamkot and Upper Bhagsu. The best thing to do is to join the Dharamkot and Bhagsu Community Facebook Group to see what is on and look out for the flyers around the towns.

Learn in some Classes & Training – It’s not just yoga on offer here, you can go to Ecstatic Dance Classes, Breathwork Sessions, Tibet Sound Bowl Healing and I found that most of these are offered in Upper Bhagsu. You can go to all of these as a participant or you can do classes like Reiki Training. Again the Facebook group is a good way to see what’s on and look out for the flyers about.

There’s also woodwork classes and pretty much everything you can imagine so keep a look out. Upper Bhagsu is a great place to learn new skills and grow. Plus, doing classes and training’s like this are a great way to meet new people.

signs for yoga and meditation in Dharamkot

You’ll see signs like this everywhere to tell you what’s on.

Wood work class in Upper Bhagsu | things to do in Bhagsu

This place was really busy one evening when I passed by.

Do the Triund Trek – The Triund Trek is one of the most popular treks in Dharamshala and the base of it leaves from Lower Bhagsu, also known as Bhagsu Nag Village, the same way the waterfall leads, so doing this hike is one of the good things to do in Bhagsu. I’ve heard the views from the top are amazing and you can read exactly how to hike Triund in this post, or you can hike Triund with a guide by booking this Hiking Day Tour to Triund.

Chill in Nature Twins Cafe – Although there are many cool, hippie style cafes in Upper Bhagsu which is generally who this area attracts, Nature Twins Cafe was my favourite and I love the floor seating area upstairs. They serve all sorts of food and they even have an Israeli menu because this area of Dharamshala is very popular with Israeli’s!

Related Post: My Full Dharamshala Travel Guide.

If you want to stay in Bhagsu there is lots of accommodation, I’d say to stay in Upper Bhagsu as I preferred it more. Popular hostels in Bhagsu are Hostel LaVie, Hostel Triangle Folks and Worlds Hostel.

Search for more hotels, hostels and guesthouses in the area on Booking.com here.

Nature Twins Cafe from outside | things to do in Bhagsu

This is such a cool cafe and I love the upstairs seating.

Things to in Dharamkot.

Tushita Meditation Centre – Up in Dharamkot is Tushita Meditation Centre, a Buddhist Centre which offers Buddhism Courses from 2 to 10 days nearly all year round, but also a daily meditation class from 9:30 every day except Sunday. I only went once (actually I went twice but the first time it was cancelled due to there being another course on, so call them in advance to check it will be on!), and I really enjoyed it. We did 2 simple meditations which lasted about 10-15 minutes each and it is on a donation basis.

Tushita Meditation Centre is very quiet and relaxed and visiting made me really want to go back and do a 10-day silent course on the Introduction to Buddism! Check out the location and courses here!

Toshiba Meditation Centre Dharamkot

Toshiba Meditation Centre in Dharamkot.

Cafe Hop in Dharamkot Village – Dharamkot Village is only very small but it’s home to lots of nice cafes. Bodhi Green’s is a Vegan Cafe in Dharamkot that I would highly recommend, and Cool Talk Cafe looked busy every time I walked by.

If you want to stay in Dharamkot which is really nice and quiet, I stayed at Alt Life Hostel in Upper Dharamkot but there is lots more accommodation which you can view here.

Vegan Buddha Bowl in Bodhi Greens Cafe | things to do in dharamkot

The Buddha Bowls in Bodhi Greens cafe are so good!

Dharamkot Village | things to do in Dharamkot

Dharamkot Village is hidden in here by the way!

Things to do in Dharamshala.

Dharamshala Town itself is not where I suggest you stay as it’s a very local area and there are not many tourist attractions in Dharamshala, but the main one is:

Visit the Worlds Highest Cricket Ground – Not something I was interested in but located in Dharamshala town is Himachal Cricket Ground which is the highest Cricket Ground in the world at 1457 metres, it’s said to be one of India’s best cricket grounds too so if you like cricket, try and see it! Check out the schedule of games here.

Find Tibetan Prayer Flags – These can be found all over Dharamshala including around the Tushita Meditation Temple, at the top of Bhagsu Falls and in Mcleod Ganj and I loved finding them and taking lots of photos!

Ellie Quinn with Tibetan Flags behind | things to do in Dharamshala

I hope this helps you work out what to do in Dharamshala. Note that no matter where you stay – Mcleod Ganj, Bhagsu or Dharamkot you can see and do all of these things, you’ll just need to walk or take a taxi between the towns.

Check out my full Dharamshala travel guide here for more information on how to get to Dharamshala and where to stay out of the 3 main places within Dharamshala – Mcleod Ganj, Dharamkot and Bhagsu.

To SEE the area, check out my YouTube video here!

For more of my posts on India see:

All India Posts

Tips for Visiting Amritsar’s Golden Temple and the Wagah Border Ceremony!

A Travel Guide to Rishikesh – Yoga, Cafes, Accommodation, Things To Do!

10 Delhi Travel Tips to See & Enjoy Delhi as a Tourist!

2 responses to “Top Things To Do in Dharamshala, Mcleod Ganj, Dharamkot & Bhagsu!”

  1. I really love destinations like this! Thank you for sharing!

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I’m Ellie Quinn!

I’m a travel addict who has been travelling on and off since 2010. In the Summer of 2018 I quit my office job in London, left my flat and I now travel and blog full time! Yes, I’m living that dream!

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