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

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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.

Things to do in Dharamshala

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!)

SIM CARD FOR INDIA

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WHAT TO WEAR IN INDIA

If you are a woman, here’s what I recommend you pack and wear in India. Technically you can wear what you like in India in most places but to get fewer stares and feel more comfortable, read my post!

DON’T GET SCAMMED IN DELHI

Most people arrive for the first time into Delhi and get scammed within a few hours! Read my Delhi Travel Tips to help you enjoy Delhi, and the best places to stay in Delhi which is so important!

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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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Dharamshala McLeod Ganj Travel Guide Dalai Lama Temple
The Dalai Lama Temple
The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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.

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!

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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. 

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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 for the best Tibetan food in 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! 

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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, for accommodation in Mcleod Ganj, I’ve stayed there twice and I love the location, the rooftop yoga shala and the mountain views from the room!

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Bhagsu Water Falls Views | things to do in bhagsu
Bhagsu Waterfall from the start of the walk up
The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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!

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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.

BOOKING TRAINS IN INDIA

India is best travelled by train because its the quickest, cheapest and best way of getting to know the country. For an EASY option of booking trains in India use 12GO to search and book trains really easily. If you’ll be in India for awhile, you can use the local booking system, it’s a bit tricker but possible, here’s my post on how to book trains in India as a tourist.

BEST ACCOMMODATION IN INDIA

I always use Booking.com to book my hotels in India and Hostelworld to book my hostels. India has a great range of accommodation with brilliant hostel chains like Moustache, Zostel and Backpacker Panda as well as homestays to luxury hotels.

GUIDED TOURS IN INDIA

Many cities in India are best seen with a guide, even if it’s just a half day tour on your first day. Cities in India are chaotic and complex and what better way to taste the food and get to know the city than with a local. I recommend Get Your Guide & Viator for the best tours in India!

Take part 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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog signs for yoga and meditation in Dharamkot
You’ll see signs like this everywhere to tell you what’s on
The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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!

If you want to stay in Bhagsu there is lots of accommodation in Bhagsu, 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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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!

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog 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.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Vegan Buddha Bowl in Bodhi Greens Cafe | things to do in dharamkot
The Buddha Bowls in Bodhi Greens cafe are so good!
The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog Dharamkot Village | things to do in Dharamkot
Dharamkot Village is hidden in here by the way!

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.

HELP WITH YOUR INDIA ITINERARY

I’ve spent many months travelling India in the last few years visiting over 50 places around the country, here are my recommended itinerary posts for India to help you plan your trip!

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1 MONTH SOUTH INDIA ITINERARY IDEAS!

2 MONTH INDIA ITINERARY IN THE NORTH & SOUTH

MY 4 MONTH INDIA ITINERARY!

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

For more of my posts on India see:

Esther Harris

Monday 23rd of September 2019

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

TheWanderingQuinn

Wednesday 16th of October 2019

Good to hear! Me too! Thanks for reading!