Tucked away at the foot of the Himalayas in India is the small suburb of McLeodganj. This hill station is popular for its exciting and scenic treks. There are also many interesting cultural places to visit in McLeodganj.
McLeodganj is a suburb of Dharamshala in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh in India.
It is also known as Little Lhasa because of the large population of Tibetans who live there. It has been the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile since 1960.
The area’s culture and famous architecture are a fascinating fusion of Tibetan with British influence.
Whether you enjoy long mountain treks with beautiful scenery or prefer to visit traditional temples, here is a list of the many wonderful things to do in McLeodganj.
1. Bhagsunath Temple & Bhagsu Falls
- 1. Bhagsunath Temple & Bhagsu Falls
- 2. Triund Hill
- 3. Tsuglagkhang Complex
- 4. Namgyal Monastery
- 5. Dal Lake
- 6. St. John in the Wilderness Church
- 7. Kangra Fort
- 8. Kareri Lake
- 9. Masroor Rock-Cut Temple
- 10. Norbulingka Institute
- 11. Naddi View Point
- 12. Guna Devi Temple
- 13. Indrahar Pass
- 14. Laka Glacier
- 15. Illiterati Cafe
- Summary: Best Mcleodganj Places To Visit
Bagsu’s temple and waterfall are two of the most famous McLeodganj tourist places to visit. It has become a popular attraction because of the ancient temple and stunning waterfall.
According to legend, the temple was built by King Bagsu to appease the snake god.
The temple is a significant religious center for people in the area. It is located in a beautiful area among pools and lush forests.
The Bhagsu waterfall runs through the temple before cascading 9 m (30 ft) down.
Although it is quite cold, visitors are allowed to swim in the water. There are many delicious eateries nearby where you can rest and enjoy the picturesque view of the waterfall and calm surroundings.
2. Triund Hill
If you are an adventurer eager to do some sightseeing in McLeodganj, a trek up Triund Hill is the best way to do it.
Triund is a small hill station located at the foot of the Dhauladhar mountain ranges. With an altitude of 2,828 m (9,278 ft), Triund provides majestic views of the Kangra valley and surrounding mountains.
The hike up Triund is not too difficult. The trail starting from McLeodganj is about 7 km (4 miles) long. The best way to experience Triund is by taking a two-day trip and camping under the stars.
From January to March is the snowfall season. It is harder and chillier to trek up Triund, but you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Himalayas’ snowy peaks.
3. Tsuglagkhang Complex
One of the amazing things to see in McLeodganj is the complex known as the home of the Dalai Lama. It is only a short walk from the town and is an important part of the people’s heritage.
The Tsuglagkhang complex includes several shrines, temples, and a museum for tourists to visit. Only the private residence of the Dalai Lama within this complex is off-limits.
Tsuglagkhang is filled with fine sculptures and murals. There is also an impressive gilded statue of Buddha, as well as two smaller statues of Chenresig and Guru Rinpoche.
The complex welcomes visitors to learn about their culture and history from the Tibet Museum. You can also rest and spend time in this serene environment in the complex’s cafe or library.
4. Namgyal Monastery
This ancient Tibetan monastery is one of the best cultural places to see in McLeodganj. It is located next to the larger Tsuglagkhang temple complex.
Namgyal Monastery was founded in the 16th century by the 14th Dalai Lama. It is still active to this day. Tibetan monks live in the monastery, study traditional Buddhist practices, and carry out daily rituals.
Visitors are welcome to come and enjoy the serene atmosphere surrounding the monastery. The complex is located in a beautiful area among lush forests of pine and cedar.
You can also enter the monastery to join a meditation session or to admire the traditional statues and prayer wheels.
5. Dal Lake
This picturesque lake enclosed by forests and mountains is a must-see for nature lovers. It is named after the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, as this lake is also surrounded by magnificent deodar trees.
Dal Lake is a peaceful place to relax or go for a walk. A boating experience on the green waters is also enjoyable as there are a variety of fish in the lake. And for adventure seekers, there are trekking expeditions available around the lake.
A Shiva shrine on the bank makes the lake a sacred spot. Every September, a fair is held at the lake to celebrate the presence of Lord Shiva. It is attended by a large number of people of the Gaddi Tribe, as well as tourists from around the world.
6. St. John in the Wilderness Church
Another of McLeodganj’s famous places to visit is this old Anglican church in the forest. It is a piece of British history hidden deep among the trees.
St. John in the Wilderness was built in 1852 as a place of worship for the British soldiers posted in the area. A serene graveyard among the deodar trees holds many memorial stones. It is also the resting place of Lord Elgin, who was the viceroy of India at that time.
The church is a fascinating structure built in a neo-Gothic style. Its beautiful Belgian stained-glass windows were a gift from Lady Elgin.
The church survived the 1905 earthquake, but its bell tower was destroyed. In 1915 a new bell was brought from England and installed on the grounds.
7. Kangra Fort
Even though it is about 30 km (18 miles) away, Kangra Fort is one of the best places near McLeodganj to include in your visit to this area. The ancient fort dates all the way back to the 4th century, during the time of the Trigarta Kingdom.
Kangra Fort is one of the oldest in the country. It has withstood numerous wars and invasions. The fort is a fascinating place to visit and learn about the area’s rich cultural heritage.
Sadly, the fort was heavily damaged in the Kangra earthquake of 1905. But history lovers and photographers will still find a tour around the ancient building immensely enjoyable. There are many narrow passages, old gates, courtyards, and stone statues to discover.
8. Kareri Lake
This lake is another of the beautiful places to visit near McLeodganj for those who love nature. It is the perfect area for picnics, photos, and a hike.
Kareri Lake is a high-altitude, freshwater lake surrounded by pasturelands and conifers. It is also known as Kumarwah Lake. On a hill overlooking the waters, there is a temple dedicated to Shakti and Lord Shiva.
Snow melting from the Dhauladhar mountain range flows into the lake. This water source, combined with the shallow lake bed, makes water visibility very high. In most places, you can see the bottom of the lake.
Kareri Lake is a popular trekking destination. It makes for a quieter experience than the treks up Triund or Indrahar Pass. During the winter months, the lake is frozen, and the whole area has a serene atmosphere.
9. Masroor Rock-Cut Temple
This astonishing temple complex is a short drive from McLeodganj, but well worth the time. It is not as well-known as other temples in the area but is definitely a must-see for history lovers.
The Masroor temple is actually a cluster of 15 temples carved out of the same rock. It was made around the 8th century, and archaeological evidence suggests that the building is incomplete.
The temple complex is laid out in a square grid with entrances on every side, although some are unfinished or damaged. A shrine with a sacred pool of water was cut from the inside of the temple. Masroor is truly a marvel of ancient construction.
10. Norbulingka Institute
This Institute is one of the more current McLeodganj attractions on the must-see list of many tourists. For those who are interested in Tibetan art, this is a wonderful place to visit.
The Norbulingka Institute was founded in 1995 as a place to preserve traditional Tibetan art and culture. The architecture of the building itself is in a traditional Tibetan style. It is set in a manicured garden with small ponds and meandering streams.
The Institute provides jobs for more than 300 Tibetan artists and craftspeople. Visitors can take guided tours to see a variety of beautiful artworks. The art studios include woodcarving, Thangka painting, and Tibetan statue making, among many others.
11. Naddi View Point
This stunning spot is also known as Sunset Point due to the amazing views you get when the sun goes down. It is located in Naddi Village, about 3 km (1.8 miles) from McLeodganj.
The village of Naddi is found in the upper reaches of the Kangra valley, at the foot of this part of the Himalayas. A short trek up to Naddi View Point puts you in the perfect location to watch the sunset against the Dhauladhar mountains.
Even in the daytime, this view point is a wonderful place to take photos. Naddi is also the starting point for many hiking trails to places like Triund and Kareri Lake.
12. Guna Devi Temple
Sri Guna Devi Mandir is a famous Hindu temple near McLeodganj. It is located in the mountains, so you will make a short trek through beautiful forested areas to reach the temple.
The Guna Devi temple is dedicated to the Goddess Kali. Many Gaddi shepherds from surrounding villages make pilgrimages to this site.
The trek to the temple is relatively easy. As you walk the scenic route, you can enjoy the magnificent deodar forest and views of the snowy Dhauladhar mountains. If you wish to camp on the mountain for the night, there is shelter and a few small shops at the temple.
13. Indrahar Pass
The Indrahar pass should definitely be on your list of places in McLeodganj to experience. It is quite a long trek but not too hard for the adventurous spirit.
This mountain pass in the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas forms the border between the Kangra and Chamba districts. Indrahar Pass is at an altitude of 4,342 m (14,245 ft) above sea level.
The views from the pass are spectacular. You can see the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal mountain ranges, as well as the Kangra Valley. The entire trek through the pass is very scenic, as you come across deodar forest, gurgling streams, and tranquil lakes along the way.
From April to October is the popular tourist trekking season, so be sure to make your arrangements well ahead of time.
14. Laka Glacier
A trek to Laka Glacier takes you on an awe-inspiring adventure into the Dhauladhar mountain range. The longer trip is worth it for the stunning views you will see.
This trek goes even further than Triund Hill. The Laka Glacier Trek is also known as the Snow Line Trek. This is because the glacier lies so close to the snowline that you can reach it with just a 13 km (8 mile) walk.
You will hike up the mountain among beautiful deodar trees and open meadows. And at the end of the trek, you are greeted with panoramic views of the Kangra Valley and Dhauladhar mountains.
The best time to go up to Laka Glacier is between March and June. This is the pre-monsoon period when the glacier is full of snow.
15. Illiterati Cafe
This bookstore and cafe is one of the most talked-about current McLeodganj tourist places to visit. Since it opened in 2012, the Illiterati Cafe has become something of a social media sensation.
Illiterati Cafe is located on Jogiwara road, just outside of McLeodganj. Many tourists, Thai monks, and Dharamshala locals go there to get away from the noise of India’s major cities.
The cafe has a large collection of books inside and boasts a stunning view of the Himalayas. It has become a sought after destination for sightseeing and literary-minded travelers alike.
Summary: Best Mcleodganj Places To Visit
McLeodganj may be small, but it is home to many famous attractions. From stunning views to serene temples, this area has many wonderful places to visit.
If you are an adventurer, there are many exciting trails for you to hike in the surrounding Dhauladhar mountains.
And if you enjoy getting to know a new culture, visiting places in McLeodganj will be a fascinating experience for you much like Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in the far western part of India which is home to the second-largest Buddhist Monastery in the world.
Whether this is your first visit to India or an exciting return trip, you can take a look at these India travel tips to make your stay even more enjoyable.