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Travel in India

How to Travel to Dharamsala, India
By:William Jackson

For those traveling to north India, consider a trip into the Himalayan foothills west of Nepal--to the hill station of Dharamsala. This mountain town is most famous for being the headquarters of the Tibetan Government-In-Exile and its leader, the Dalai Lama. But other attractions also exist here, like plentiful day hikes, the up-and-down, winding street markets, good food, and stunning scenic views. Here's how to get there.

Arrive in New Delhi. India's capital city is home to the region's largest international airport, named after assassinated Indian leader Indira Gandhi. Round-trip economy flights from New York to Delhi usually cost between $850 and $1,500 or more, depending on the carrier and the time of year.

Buy a train ticket to Pathankot. Any cab driver in Delhi will be able to take you to Delhi's central train station. Be sure to arrive around 7:30 or 8:00 in the evening, as trains typically depart for Pathankot soon after 9:00. The ticket will cost anywhere from a few dollars to $80 or more, depending on the level of comfort you desire.

Arrive in Pathankot. The train ride should last about 10 hours, most of which, hopefully, you are able to sleep through.

Find a taxi to take you to Dharamsala. The jeep may present Mcleod Ganj as its destination; Mcleod Ganj and Dharamsala are essentially the same town, so any jeep going to Mcleod Ganj will take you to Dharamsala as well. There are shared jeep taxis, which charge a few dollars for the entire 2 to 3 hour ride, or you can take a private taxi, which will cost you between $20 and $40.

Arrive in Dharamsala and enjoy. The town is a center of Tibetan culture, home to several monasteries, and teeming with Tibetan cultural and political organizations. In addition, there are a variety of good hole-in-the-wall restaurants to choose from, and hotels range in price from extremely budget to luxurious and costly. Take advantage of the day hike opportunities--the local Tourism Bureau (anyone in town can direct you to it) has hiking maps that it hands out for free.

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