With the summer around, and a week available with Club Mahindra, we decided to book its resort in Dharamshala in the first week of May. This was my first experience of Club Mahindra. I had heard a lot of good things about their hospitality, but was still pleasantly surprised when we experienced it. More on the resort review can be found here.
Kingfisher operates flight IT 4351 from Delhi to Gaggal. Club Mahindra resort is around 15 km from the airport. The weather in Dharamshala was hot. A slight drizzle on one of the days cooled down the place.
McLeod Ganj is a short drive from Dharamshala. All the major site seeing spots are in McLeod Ganj. Located at a higher altitude, this was perceptibly cooler than Dharamshala. The Dalai Lama's residence is in McLeod Ganj. Other spots covered as part of local site seeing are the Bhagsu Falls and the St John in the Wilderness church.
There are a number of tours that can be planned out of Dharamshala. Spots covered include
- Azhangar Mahadev Temple: Shiv mandir
- Norbulingka Institute: The Norbulingka Institute was founded by the current Dalai Lama in order to preserve the Tibetan art and culture. The institute is a non profit organisation which provides training in Thangka paintings, metal work, wood carving etc. We asked a local official if someone can guide us around the institute. He pointed us to an official who took us around the institute and explained to us the various art forms being taught and the courses being offered. There is a store within the premises which sells Thangka paintings, etc. The proceeds for the same go towards the fees for its students.
- Baijnath Temple: This is supposed to be one of the 12 jyotirlingas
- Gopalpur Zoo: Very few animals here. Can give this a miss. Himalayan Black Bears can be seen here.
- Tapovan: This is one of the important centers of Chinmay Mission. The samadhi of Swami Chinmayananda can be seen here.
- Vajreshwari Devi Temple: One of the Shakti Peeths
- Gyuto Monastery: This is one of the most famous Tibetan monasteries. It specializes in the study of Tantric meditation.
- Kangra Fort: This is said to be the oldest fort in the Himalayas. This has mention in Alexander the Great's war records.
- Jwalamukhi Devi Temple: The temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Light. What is unique about this temple is that there is no idol in it. An eternally burning flame coming out of rock, is worshiped as a manifestation of the goddess.
- Chintpurni Devi Temple: One of the Shakti Peeths.