Hotels in Dharamsala

Dharamshala or Dharamsala is a city in northern India. It was formerly known as Bhagsu; it is the winter seat of government of the state of Himachal Pradesh and the district headquarters of the Kangra district. McLeod Ganj, a village within the Dharamshala municipality, is the home of the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, and the exiled Tibetan government. Description Dharamshala is a city in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and is surrounded by dense coniferous forest consisting mainly of stately Deodars. The suburbs of the town includes -- McLeod Ganj, Bhagsu Nath, Forsyth Ganj, Naddi, Kotwali Bazaar (the main market of the town), Kaccheri Adda (government offices such as the court, police, post etc.), Dari, Ramnagar, Sidhpur and Sidhbari (where the Karmapa Lama is based) The village of McLeod Ganj lying in the upper reaches is known worldwide for the presence of the Tenzin Gyatso. On 29 April 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama established the Tibetan exile administration in the north Indian hill station of Mussoorie. In May 1960, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was moved to Dharamshala. Dharamshala is the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India. Following the 1959 Tibetan uprising there was an influx of Tibetan refugees who followed the 14th Dalai Lama. His presence and the Tibetan population has made Dharamshala a popular destination for Indian and foreign tourists, including students studying Tibet. Name Meaning and Origin "Dharamshala" Dharmashaalaa; IAST: Dharma??l?) is a Hindi word (derived from Sanskrit) that is a compound of dharma and sh?l? An approximate translation into English would be 'spiritual dwelling' or, more loosely, 'sanctuary'. Rendering a precise literal translation into English is problematic due to the vast and conceptually rich semantic field of the word dharma, and the cultural aspect of India. In common Hindi usage, the word dharamshala refers to a shelter or rest house for spiritual pilgrims. Traditionally, such dharamshalas (pilgrims' rest houses) were commonly constructed near pilgrimage destinations (often located in remote areas) to give visitors a place to sleep for the night. When the first permanent settlement was created in the place now called Dharamshala, there was already one such pilgrims' rest house existing on the site, and the settlement took its name from that dharamshala. History Before the Raj From the earliest times until the British Raj, Dharamshala and its surrounding area was ruled by the Katoch Dynasty of Kangra. The Katoch Dynasty is said to be the oldest serving Royal Family in the world.[citation needed] The Royal Family still keeps a residence in Dharamshala, known as 'Clouds End Villa'. The indigenous people of the Dharamshala area (and the surrounding region) are the Gaddis, a predominantly Hindu group who traditionally lived a nomadic or semi-nomadic (transhumant) lifestyle. Due to the lack of permanent settlements in the area, some Gaddis lost their seasonal pastures and farmland when the British and the Gurkhas arrived to settle. Settlement by the British and the Gurkhas In 1848, the area now known as Dharamshala was annexed by the British. "Dharams?la lies on a spur of the Dhaola Dh?r, 16 miles north-east of K?ngra, in the midst of wild and picturesque scenery. It originally formed a subsidiary cantonment for the troops stationed at K?ngra, and was first occupied as a station in 1849, when a site was required for a cantonment to accommodate a Native regiment which was being raised in the District. A site was found upon the slopes of the Dhaola Dh?r, in a plot of waste land, upon which stood an old Hindu resthouse, or dharms?la, whence the name adopted for the new cantonment. The civil authorities, following the example of the regimental officers, and attracted by the advantages of climate and scenery, built themselves houses in the neighbourhood of the cantonment; and in 1855 the new station was formally recognised as the head-quarters of the [K?ngra] District." In 1860, the 66th Gurkha Light Infantry was moved from Kangra to Dharamshala, which was at first made a subsidiary cantonment. An ideal position for the new base was found on the slopes of the Dhauladhar Hills, near the site of a Hindu sanctuary, or Dharamshala, hence the name of the town. The Battalion was later renamed the historic 1st Gurkha Rifles, this was the beginning of the legend of the Gurkhas, the so-called 'Bravest of the Brave'. Consequently, fourteen Gurkha platoon villages grew from this settlement, and exist to this day, namely Dari, Ramnagar, Shyamnagar, Dal, Totarani, Khanyara, Sadher, Chaandmaari, Sallagarhi, Sidhbari, Yol, and so on. The Gurkhas worshipped at the ancient Shiva temple of Bhagsunag. The Gurkhas referred to Dharamshala as 'Bhagsu' and referred to themselves as Bhagsuwalas. The 21st Gurkha Regiment from Dharamshala performed heroic feats during World War I and the North West Frontier Province campaigns. The Gurkha cantonment then reached its zenith during World War II, when battalions from Dharamshala made history. Many place names in the town still retain their former cantonment terminologies: Depot Bazaar, Pensioners' Lines, Tirah Lines (named after the 19th century Tirah Campaign), Bharatpore Lines (named after the 1826 Battle of Bharatpore). The second Lord Elgin, Viceroy of India died here (at the 1st Gurkha Rifles Officers' Mess) in 1863 and is buried in the cemetery of St. John in the Wilderness, a small Anglican church distinguished by its stained-glass windows. Dharamshala became a popular hill station for the British working in or near Delhi, offering a cool respite during the hot summer months. "Before the earthquake of 1905, the upper part of the station, which rises to a height of 7,112 feet [2,168 metres], contained the European houses, the station church, and the officers' mess and lines of the 1st Gurkhas, together with the public gardens, post office, and two bazars, the Forsythganj and McLeodganj. The public offices, a bazar, and a few European houses made up the lower station, as low as 4,500 feet [1,372 metres]. The 1st battalion of the 1st Gurkhas used to be stationed here, but was moved to the upper station in 1894-5.... The public gardens, which were, before the earthquake, laid out with much taste in lawns and terraces, contained a valuable collection of indigenous and imported trees and shrubs, and were overlooked by the Assembly Rooms, a handsome building comprising a public hall, a library and reading-room and a billiard-room. The church was beautifully situated in a recess of the mountain." In 1905, the Kangra valley suffered a major earthquake. On April 4 of that year, the earth shook, demolishing much of the cantonment and the neighbouring city of Kangra as well as the Bhagsunag temple. Altogether, the 1905 Kangra earthquake killed 20,000 people. "1,625 persons perished at Dharams?la alone, including 15 Europeans and 112 of the Gurkha garrison."." The Gurkhas rebuilt the town along with the temple, which today is acknowledged as the 1st Gurkha Rifles' heritage. The British had planned to make Dharamshala the summer capital of India, but moved to Shimla after the disaster. Not only did the Gurkhas of Dharmshala make a major contribution to India's defence but also many were freedom fighters for the Indian National Army, which had been founded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The Indian National Army Captain Ram Singh Thakur, a Gurkha from the village of Khanyara, composed some of India's most popular and stirring patriotic songs, including "Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja". He is acknowledged so by the Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata. The important contribution of the noted Gurkha social commentator, the late Master Mitrasen Thapa, from the village of Totarani, has also been acknowledged by the Himachal Pradesh government. Recently, a park dedicated to the memory of the late Brigadier Sher Jung Thapa, MVC, the 'Hero of Skardu', has been opened alongside the road between Lower and Upper Dharamshala. Demographics As of the 2001 India census, Dharamshala had a population of 19,124. Males constitute 55% of the population and females 45%. Dharamshala has an average literacy rate of 77%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 80% and, female literacy is 73%. In Dharamshala, 9% of the population is under 6 years of age. Geography Dharamshala has an average elevation of 1457 metres (4780 feet), covering an area of almost 29 km². Dharamshala is located in the Kangra Valley, in the shadow of the Dhauladhar mountains. The city is divided into two distinct sections. Kotwali Bazaar and the surrounding markets are referred to as "Lower Dharamshala" or just "Dharamshala." Further up the mountain is McLeod Ganj separated in between by the village of Ganchen Kyishong, the home of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. A steep, narrow road connects Mcleod Ganj from Dharamshala and is only accessible to taxis and small cars, while a longer road winds around the valley for use by buses and trucks. McLeod Ganj is surrounded by pine, Himalayan oak, and rhododendron. The main crops grown in the valleys below are rice, wheat and tea. Climate Dharamshala has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate. Summer starts in early April and peaks in early June, when temperatures can reach 36oC. Summers last till mid of June. From July to mid September, is the monsoon season, when up to 3000 mm (120 inches) of rain can fall, making Dharamshala one of the wettest places in the state. Autumn is mild and lasts from October to end of November. Autumn temperatures average around 16-17oC. Winter starts in December and goes on till late February. Snow and sleet is common during the winter in upper Dharamshala, i.e., McLeodganj, Bhagsu Nag, Naddi,etc. Lower Dharamshala hardly receives any solid precipitation except hail. Winter is followed by a short, pleasant spring till April. Historically, the Dhauladhar mountains used to remain snow-covered all year long but for the past five years, they have been losing their snow blanket during dry spells. The best time to visit are the autumn and spring months.

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