An almost perfect town in the shadows of the magnificent Dhalaudhar Range, Mcleodganj creates postcard memories for visitors. Mcleodganj lies in the Kangra district. It is in the outlying part of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. This place is also known as “Dhasa” or “Little Lhasa”. The place got this name because of the huge Tibetan population in Dharamshala. The government of Tibet that has gone into exile has its headquarters in Mcleodganj. There are plenty of things to do in Mcleodganj to create an unforgettable memory. To reach my detailed itinerary for Mcleodganj, visit this blog: An Itinerary for Mcleodganj.
The place is situated at an altitude of 6831 feet above the sea level and is located on the Dhauladhar Range of mountains. This town is one of the best destinations to visit due to a wide range of things to do in Mcleodganj. Vibrant monasteries, stunning backdrop, soothing cafes, and thrilling adventure activities have made it one of the favorite summer holiday destinations in India.
Here, I am compiling a list of things to do in Mcleodganj and have a lovely trip.
- Trek to Triund
The most renowned trekking trail in beginners, Triund is located at a distance of almost 10 kilometers from Mcleodganj. Triund is a breathtaking ridge that lies below the huge Dhauladhar range. The trek is easy and can be completed within the 4 hours for a beginner mountaineer. Once you reach the end point of the trek in the grassy meadows, the whole landscape offers some outstanding views which are sure beauty to the eyes. The clouds descend in this region and give you a feel of walking among the clouds. The whole environment looks simply spectacular at night and the stay over at this place is a common thing particularly among the tourists. You can go exploring the Kareri Lake and rock cut caves that are situated nearby. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can visit the snowline or Indrahar pass by trekking even further. To read my experience, visit my blog: Trek to Triund
- Visit Dal Lake
Situated at an elevation of 1775 meter in Mcleodganj, this picturesque water body is filled with green colored water. The Dal Lake at this place is surrounded by lush green forests of deodar trees and rough mountains. There is a renowned Shiva temple located on the banks of the lake. Every year, an annual fair is held on banks of the Dal Lake in the month of September. This fair has a large number of attendees from the Gaddi tribe. The fair is organized as a celebration of the existence and presence of the omnipresent Lord Shiva.
A popular tourist attraction, this place is also a famous picnic spot with the families. One can see people lazing around with their picnic baskets here quite often. You can also indulge in boating and varied activities at this place. The Dal Lake is surrounded by blooming trees and greenery in its environment that make it a perfect soothing place for relaxation. However, you can keep this attraction at a lower priority while sorting out the things to do in Mcleodganj.
- Dine at the cafes and colorful restaurants
The eating joints at Mcleodganj are happening and offer you a comfortable experience. The funky cafes serve some really tempting dishes such as thukpa, steaming hot and relishing momos, excellent coffee and much more. Relaxing in these calm and charming cafes is a common thing among the solo travelers to Mcleodganj and is a preferable option for such tourists. Sipping evening coffee, while admiring the game of shadows and the Sun is a spectacular experience. You should definitely add this experience to the list of things to do in Mcleodganj.
- Offer prayers at Kalachakara Temple
The pilgrims visiting Mcleodganj often visit the Kalachakara temple before paying their respects at the Tsuglagkhang. This shrine is located on the west side of Tsuglagkhang and is said to house the mural of Wheel of Time. This wheel at this temple is said to be a mesmerizing painting of the Kalachakra mandala. This painting is precisely linked to Avalokitesvara. It is believed that spiritual leader Dalai Lama is a manifestation of Avalokitesvara. Every year, on the 15th day of the third Tibetan month, many colorful sand mandalas are created at this place. For your religious self, add this temple to things to do in Mcleodganj.
- Explore Tsechokling Gompa
Tsechokling Gompa is a spiritual habitat of the Tibetans. This sacred place is situated amidst lush green environment at a scenic place. The shrine was constructed in the year 1987 as a replacement to the Dip Tse Chokling Gompa located in Tibet. This shrine was demolished due to the Cultural Revolution at Tibet. This divine place is among major attractions of the tourists visiting Mcleodganj. The monument has been built on the steep side of the mighty Dhauladhars.
The shrine is two-storeyed structure. The main temple occupies the ground floor of the building whereas the Arya Tara Temple and a private room for his Holiness are situated on the second floor. You can spend some quality time in the main prayer hall which has a majestic statue of Sakyamuni, The statue also has a jeweled headdress. This is an excellent place to unwind yourself; know the real you and experience the inner calm. Please note, while sorting out the things to do in Mcleodganj, this Gompa is not to be confused with the Dalai Lama temple and complex which is called Tsuglagkhang.
- Visit Nechung Monastery
This monastery is situated at a distance of four miles to the west of town. It acquires an important landmark in the history of Tibet as oracles are a vital part of the Tibetan lifestyle. Originally, this monastery was named as Nechung Yulo Ko. During the 16th century period, Nechung came in close contact with His Holiness the second Dalai Lama.
The monastery was reconstructed during the rule of fifth Dalai Lama in the period 1617-1682. He was also the main architect of this monastery at that time. The monks associated with this monastery perform many diverse ceremonies for all the humans of the world. Their religious rituals are particularly dedicated for the fortune of the Tibetan government and long life of H.H. the Dalai Lama. If architecture and history fascinate you, this attraction goes straight to your list of things to do in Mcleodganj.
- Get to know Tibetian hardships at Tibetan Museum
This official museum is situated in the vicinity of the main temple of Dalai Lama. The museum was set up in 1998. The main aim of this museum was to distribute the knowledge of the rich culture of Tibet and its history among the masses. It also focused on raising a voice about the occupation that is followed in Tibet and the atrocities of China on the human rights of the Tibetan population.
As of now, the museum houses a traveling exhibition, the journey of the exile of Tibet in the Himalayan Ranges and more than 30,000 photographs, videos, and panels that provide a clear display in English. This is definitely a place that you should miss on your visit to Mcleodganj. Get a glimpse of the Tibetian hardships and history by adding this museum to things to do in Mcleodganj.
- Admire architecture at St. Johns Church in wilderness
This splendid chapel is situated at a distance of 8 km from Dharamshala and is built in the middle of the beautiful valley of Mcleodganj. The church is located in the dense forests between Forsythganj and Mcleodganj. This church is actually a monument that has been built in memory of Lord Elgin who was one of the viceroys of India. The elegant church is encircled by a Christian cemetery. This is an Anglican church. It has been constructed in the neo-Gothic sense of architecture and is dedicated to John, the Baptist.
The church ‘s structure is so powerful that it managed to stay erect even after the powerful 1905 Kangra earthquake which had claimed nearly 19,800 lives and destroyed other buildings in the area. The major attraction of this church is the Belgian stained-glass windows which give the structure an appealing look. These windows were contributed by Lady Elgin who was the wife of the viceroy Lord Elgin. An architectural marvel, this attraction would be perfect for an evening stroll as it is a bit far from the town. Do add this to things to do in Mcleodganj for you.
- Admire Art at Naam Art Gallery
Naam Art Gallery is a reputed spot in Mcleodganj that is frequented by tourists. This art gallery is a permanent exhibition gallery which has put up the paintings of A.W Hallet and German articles of Elizabeth Buschmann in the display. This art gallery is situated in the Sidhbari village on the path that goes to Dalhousie. The gallery also does business by selling the paintings of renowned artists.
The works of Elsbeth Buschmann include acrylics and watercolors whereas the paintings of famous artists Alfred W. Hallet, Elizabeth are oil paintings. Hallet was one of the most reputed artists of the region and is believed to have resided in Dharamshala for a period of 40 plus years. Although this artist passed away in 1986, he is still remembered through his artworks in the gallery. The art gallery can be visited throughout the year. You need to add this gallery to your list of things to do in Mcleodganj if you enjoy admiring art.
- Step in History at Kangra Fort
This majestic historical fort was built by the royal family of Kangra. The magnificent structure is said to be belonging to 4th Century B.C. It is one of the most ancient forts in India and the biggest fort in the Himalayan terrain. Kangra fort is situated at a distance of around 20 kilometers Dharamshala. The temple comprises of a few shrines that one can visit once he passes through the seven gates of the fort. A popular attraction of this fort is the spectacular view of the Banganga and Manjhi that can be seen from here. Adjacent to the Kangra Fort is the Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch Museum which is managed by the royal family. Steeped in history, Kangra fort makes a good entry in your things to do in Mcleodganj list.
- Visit Kangra Baglamuki Temple
This is one of the oldest Balgamukhi temples and is located in Bankhandi. This ancient temple is said to be from the Mahabharata period. It is situated at the entrance of the Kotla Fort that is near to Kangra. The goddess is worshiped mainly to demolish the enemies and ward off Yakshini, evil persons and evil spirits as well as pacify quarrels for the devotee’s advantage. This shrine is said to be a powerful Shakti Peeth which is also thronged by many politicians and ministers. Many of them pay respect to the goddess to win court cases and get good election results. Add this temple to your list of things to do in Mcleodganj and experience the prowess of the Almighty.
- Indulge in City Shopping
Mcleodganj is a heaven for shopaholics. Mcleodganj Central Square, Jogiwara Road, and Kotwali Bazaar are well-known shopping areas in the district. The shops that are situated at the Kotwali Bazaar are renowned for housing a collection of exotic sculptures, rugs and Tibetan carpets whereas the Jogiwara Road has earned the reputation of the most visited place, especially for souvenir shopping. You can also get traditional items such as handicrafts, bags, trousers, Tibetan hats, Chubas and slippers at Kotwali Bazaar. The markets are also famous for exotic jewelry pieces, mandala paintings, and traditional dresses. You can purchase souvenirs from this place for your relatives and friends that will surely be appreciated by them. Shopping is a must add to things to do in Mcleodganj.
- Visit Norbulingka Institute
This institute was established in 1988 and is situated near Dharamshala. The aim of this institute was to preserve the Tibetan literature, art, and culture. The institute derived its name from the summer residence of Dalai Lama that is situated in Lhasa, Tibet. The institute primarily aims at protecting the rich traditional and cultural heritage of Tibet. It aims at imparting training, education, employment to the Tibetan population that have become the inhabitants of that region. The institute also houses a Seat of Happiness Temple which is particularly famous for 1713 murals of Buddha, drawings that depict the life of 14th Dalai Lama and paintings of all the Dalai Lamas. The institute offers various courses such as wood painting, Thangka painting, applique and tailoring, Tibetan statue making, screen-printing, woodcarving, papermaking etc. This institude holds a lot of importance for Tibetians in Mcleodganj. You should definitely add this to the things to do in Mcleodganj for yourself.
- Trek to Minkiani Pass
The Minkiani pass is situated in the western part of the Dhauladhar ranges and is at an altitude of around 4300 m. It is a very popular place for trekking and used by the local people mainly to visit the holy Lam Dal. Lam Dal is the second biggest lake in Himachal Pradesh. The Minkiani Pass is also used to reach Chamba by the locals. It also offers stunning views of the peaks situated at the northern site of the pass such as Brammah (6515 m) and Sickle Moon (6574 m) which are located in the Kishtwar region in Kashmir. The pass is prone to sudden climatic changes, blizzards, and white outs. While you trek this beautiful pass, you will be able to witness many flowing rivulets and streams, dense and lush green forests that are abundant with flora and fauna. There are many villages situated on the slopes of this pass. The pass offers outstanding visuals for the nature lovers and photo enthusiasts.
- Visit Tsuglagkhang
This structure is one of the holiest places for the Tibetan population in India. It is the official home of the 14th Dalai Lama and is situated in the southwest corner of Mcleodganj. It is believed that Dalai Lama is the current emanation of Buddha. No other electronic device except the radio is permitted inside the premises of the shrine. The temple also houses NamgyalGompa and a Tibet Museum. The Mangyal Gompa is a place where the monks engage in some debates.
The debate provides extensive knowledge and is always carried out in a good and respectful way. In the temple, there are 3 main idols – a 3-meter high statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, a bronze image of Padmasambhava and the Buddha of Compassion that faces Tibet Avalokitesvara. The Tibet Museum includes various photos and videos of the Tibetan struggles. It also depicts the Chinese invasions in their territory.
16. Volunteer and teach English to monks
The monks at Mcleodganj do receive a lot of education. But, they need help with English. While in Mcleodganj, one of the noblest things to do in Mcleodganj would be volunteering. You can teach English to a monk and help him in fulfilling his dreams. I engaged in one such volunteering program and was glad to do it. To know more about my volunteering experience, you can read my blog: Small Joys of Travel | Volunteering in Mcleodganj
I hope you liked this crisp compilation of mine. Do share your experiences with me in comments below. If you have some suggestions for this list, please leave a comment below.