How to get to Dharamsala on a Budget

Picture by Rachel Hendrick

Dharamsala is well known for being the home of the Dalai Lama, political and spiritual leader of the Tibetans in exile which have fled the country since the Chinese invasion in the 1950s. Along with His Holiness, several thousands of Tibetans live in the small town of McLeod Ganj which is a few kilometers away from Dharamsala and which has gotten quite touristic in recent years.

Going to Dharamasala

When in India, the first thing to do to go to the hill town is to get to Delhi, the capital. From there, one can stay a day or two in Majnu Ka Tilla, a small Tibetan colony away from the city center. You can either take a rickshaw taxi (about 110 rupees from New Delhi train station) or for a mere few rupees, you can also take the metro and get off at Vidhan Sabha station.

In Majnu Ka Tilla, you will be able to buy a bus ticket (they are all night buses, approximately 550 rupees) which usually depart around 6pm and get you directly in the main square in McLeod Ganj at 6 or 7am the following morning. The ride is rough and you may fear dying a few times as the driver reaches incredible speeds and take mountain corners in the dark with what seems to be a death wish but most people come out of it alive and there is no other way around it. This is India.

Otherwise, there is a plane that gets you to Gaggal airport a few hours away from Dharamsala but this is obviously much more expensive. You can also take the train to Pathankot and then a bus from there to McLeod Ganj but it is actually more of a hassle to do it this way (though you do spend less time in an Indian bus this way).

There are also several holiday deals or packages in India which include Dharamsala so you can also look into this with a travel agent in the country but chances are it will be more expensive than doing it on your own.

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