Overview of Dharamshala town in Kangra Valley from the Dhauladhar range
|Nickname(s): Dshala, DMA ,Smart City.|
|• Total||29.51 km2 (11.39 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,457 m (4,780 ft)|
|• Density||4,100/km2 (11,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Vehicle registration||HP 39,HP 68,HP 01D,HP 02D|
Dharamsala (also Dharamshala) (Hindi: धर्मशाला, dharmaśālā) (pronounced [d̪ʱərəmˈɕaːlaː] or [d̪ʱərmˈɕaːlaː]) is a city and a municipal corporation l in Kangra district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is the district headquarters. It was formerly known as Bhagsu. The Dalai Lama's residence and the headquarters of Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government in exile) are in Dharamshala. Dharamshala is 18 kilometres from Kangra.
- 1 Description
- 2 Etymology
- 3 History
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Geography
- 6 Major suburbs
- 7 Connections
- 8 Climate
- 9 Dharamsala International Film Festival (DIFF)
- 10 Important educational institutions
- 11 Trekking
- 12 Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
- 13 Notable residents
- 14 Notes and references
- 15 External links
Dharamshala is a city in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and is surrounded by dense coniferous forest consisting mainly of stately Deodar cedar trees. The suburbs include McLeodGanj, Bhagsunath, Dharamkot, Naddi, ForsythGanj, Kotwali Bazaar (the main market), Kaccheri Adda (government offices such as the court, police, post, etc.), Dari, Ramnagar, Sidhpur, and Sidhbari (where the Karmapa is based).
The village of McLeodGanj, lying in the upper reaches, is known worldwide for the presence of the Dalai Lama. On 29 April 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) 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.
One of the main attractions of Dharamshala is Triund hill. Jewel of Dharamshala, Triund is one day trek at the upper reaches of McLeodGanj, about 9 km from McLeodGanj.
Dharamshala (Devanagari: धर्मशाला; ITRANS: Dharmashaalaa; IAST: Dharmaśālā) is a Hindi word (derived from Sanskrit) that is a compound of dharma (धर्म) and shālā (शाला). A loose 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 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 one such pilgrims' rest house on the site, and the settlement took its name from that dharamshala.
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. 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.
- "Dharamsāla lies on a spur of the Dhaola Dhār, 16 miles north-east of Kāngra, in the midst of wild and picturesque scenery. It originally formed a subsidiary cantonment for the troops stationed at Kāngra, 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 Dhār, in a plot of waste land, upon which stood an old Hindu resthouse, or dharmsāla, 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 headquarters of the [Kāngra] District."
In 1860, the 66th Gurkha Light Infantry was moved from Kangra, Himachal Pradesh 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, also known as the '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, Himachal Pradesh as well as the Bhagsunag temple. Altogether, the 1905 Kangra earthquake killed 20,000 people. "1,625 persons perished at Dharamsāla 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, 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 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.
Establishment of Tibetan exile community
The Tibetan settlement of Dharamshala began in 1959, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet and the Prime Minister of India allowed him and his followers to settle in McLeodGanj (in Upper Dharmshala), a former colonial British summer picnic spot. There they established the "government-in-exile" in 1960 and the Namgyal Monastery. Dharamshala had been connected with Hinduism and Buddhism for a long time, many monasteries having been established there in the past, by Tibetan immigrants in the 19th century.
In 1970, The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, opened the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives which houses over 80,000 manuscripts and other important resources related to Tibetan history, politics and culture. It is considered one of the most important institutions for Tibetology in the world, the new director is Geshe Lahkdor, the old translator of H.H. the Dalai Lama.
Several thousand Tibetan exiles have now settled in the area, and most live in and around McLeodGanj in Upper Dharamshala, where they have built monasteries, temples and schools. McLeodGanj is sometimes known as 'Little Lhasa", after the Tibetan capital city, or 'Dhasa' (a compound of 'Dharamshala' and 'Lhasa'). It has become an important tourist destination with many hotels and restaurants, leading to growth in tourism and commerce.
Transcription and pronunciation
Due to a lack of uniform observance of transliteration and transcription conventions for Hindi (and the Devanagari script in which Hindi is written), the name of the town has been transcribed into English (and other languages using Romanic scripts) variously as Dharamshala, Dharamsala and, less frequently, Dharmshala and Dharmsala. These four permutations result from two variables: the transcription of the word धर्म (dharma)—particularly the second syllable (र्म)—and that of the third syllable (शा).
A strict transliteration of धर्म as written would be 'dharma' [ˈdʱərma]. In the modern spoken Hindi of the region, however, there is a common metathesis in which the vowel and consonant sounds in the second syllable of certain words (including धर्म) are transposed, which changes 'dharma' to 'dharam' (pronounced somewhere between [ˈdʱərəm] and [ˈdʱərm], depending on the speaker). Thus, if the goal of the transcription is phonetic accord with modern spoken Hindi, then 'dharam' and 'dharm' are both legitimate options.
Therefore, the most accurate phonetic transcription of the Hindi धर्मशाला into Roman script for common (non-technical) English usage is either 'Dharamshala' or, less commonly, 'Dharmshala', both of which render the sh (/ʃ/) sound of श in English as 'sh' to convey the correct native pronunciation, 'Dharamshala' [dʱərəmˈʃaːlaː] or 'Dharmshala' [dʱərmˈʃaːlaː]). Nonetheless, the alternate spelling 'Dharamsala' continues to be used in some cases despite its inaccuracy, and all four spelling permutations can be found in the English language materials of the local and state governments, in publications, and on the Internet.
Regardless of spelling variations, the correct native pronunciation is with the sh sound (/ʃ/). In actual practice, the spelling variant that is most common and most concordant with standards of transcription and native pronunciation is 'Dharamshala'. The official Indian English spelling is 'Dharamshala'.
As of the 2001[update] 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.
As of Census of India 2001:
- Number of Households - 4,342
- Average Household Size (per Household) - 4.0
- Population-Total - 19,124
- Population-Urban - 19,124
- Proportion of Urban Population (%) - 100
- Population-Rural - 0
- Sex Ratio - 824
- Population(0–6 years) - 1,819
- Sex Ratio(0-6 year) - 913
- SC Population - 2,611
- Sex Ratio (SC) - 861
- Proportion of SC (%) - 14.0
- ST Population - 99
- Sex Ratio (ST) - 833
- Proportion of ST (%) - 1
- Literates - 14,462
- Illiterates - 4,662
- Literacy Rate (%) - 77.0
Dharamshala has an average elevation of 1457 metres (4780 feet), covering an area of almost 8.51 km².
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 McLeodGanj separated in between by the village of Ganchen Kyishong, the home of the Tibetan government-in-exile. A steep, narrow road connects McLeodGanj 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. McLeodGanj is surrounded by pine, Himalayan oak, and rhododendron.
The main crops grown in the valleys below are rice, wheat and tea.
- Kotwali Bazar
- Mant Khas(Ramnagar and Shyamnagar)
- Sheela Chowk
Dharamshala town is reached by Gaggal Airport, (IATA: DHM, ICAO: VIGG), about 15 km to the town's south and about 10 km north of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh town. To reach Dharamshala by train, one has to reach Kangra, Himachal Pradesh town by Kangra Valley Railway line from Pathankot 94 km away and then take a bus or a taxi.
Pathankot is a broad gauge railway head. There is another railway line from Pathankot to Jogindernagar, a part of the Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh, which is a narrow-gauge line. The nearest station to Dharamshala on this line is Chamunda Marg, half an hour away, where a Shaktipitha is; the town is well connected by road to other parts of the country.
Buses of all classes (deluxe, air-conditioned, and regular) ply daily between Dharamshala and major cities such as Chandigarh, Delhi, and Shimla. Several buses each night connect McLeodGanj with Majnu Ka Tila, the Tibetan settlement in Delhi.
|Climate data for Dharamsala|
|Record high °C (°F)||24.7
|Average high °C (°F)||14.5
|Average low °C (°F)||5.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−1.9
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||114.5
|Average rainy days||6.1||5.4||5.8||4.0||4.6||9.3||22.0||22.2||12.8||3.1||1.2||2.9||99.4|
|Source: India Meteorological Department (record high and low up to 2010)|
Dharamshala has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Cwa). Summer starts in early April, peaks in early June (when temperatures can reach 36 °C) and last till mid-June. From July to mid-September is the monsoon season when up to 3000 mm (120 inches) of rainfall can be experienced, making Dharamshala one of the wettest places in the state. Autumn is mild and lasts from October to the end of November.
Autumn temperatures average around 16–17 °C. Winter starts in December and continues until late February. Snow and sleet are common during the winter in upper Dharamshala (including McLeodganj, Bhagsu Nag and Naddi). Lower Dharamshala receives little solid precipitation except hail. The snowfall of January 7, 2012 was an exception. It was caused by deep low pressure entering the Kangra district. Winter is followed by a short, pleasant spring until April. Historically, the Dhauladhar mountains used to remain snow-covered all year long, however, in recent years they have been losing their snow blanket during dry spells.
The best times to visit are the autumn and spring months.
Dharamsala International Film Festival (DIFF)
The third edition of DIFF will showcase approximately 24 full-length feature films and documentaries, and a selection of short animation films, selected from the best of contemporary independent cinema, from the 30th of October to the 2nd of November, in McLeod Ganj.
The 2014 edition of the festival will count with 12 filmmakers from India and abroad, film critics, and industry and media personnel, to attend the festival and participate in Q&A sessions. This year's festival will mark the start of the DIFF Film Fellows Programme, in which a selected number of young filmmakers from the Indian Himalayan regions will be selected to come to the festival, attend film screenings, masterclasses and workshops, and engage in one-on-one mentoring sessions with established filmmakers.
DIFF is presented by White Crane Arts & Media trust, established by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam to promote contemporary art, cinema and independent media practices in the Himalayan region.
Important educational institutions
- Central University of Himachal Pradesh
- Degree College Dharamshala
- Government College of Teacher Education Dharamsala
- Kendriya Vidhyalaya Dharamshala Cantt (Dharamshala)
- Sacred Heart Sr. Sec. School (Sidhpur)
- Regional Center Himachal Pradesh University
- School of Legal Studies
- Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College
- Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Memorial Library.
Dharamshala is a starting point to a number of trekking trails that especially lead trekkers across Dhauladhar into the upper Ravi Valley and Chamba district. En route, trekkers cross through forests of deodar, pine, oak and rhododendron, and pass streams and rivers and wind along vertiginous cliff tracks, and the occasional lake waterfall and glacier.
A 2-km amble takes one to Bhagsu, and then a further 3-km walk will lead the trekkers to Dharamkot. If one wishes to go on a longer walk then he/she can trek 8-km to Triund. The snow line of Ilaqa Got is just a 5-km walk.
Other trekking trails that lead trekkers to Chamba from Dharamshala are:
- Toral Pass (4575m) which begins from Tang Narwana (1150m) that is nearly 10 km from Dharamshala
- Across Bhimghasutri Pass (4580m) via near-vertical rocky ascents, steep cliffs and dangerous gorges. This is a highly difficult level trek and takes around six days to complete.
- Dharamshala—Bleni Pass (3710m) – Dunali. Compared to other trekking trails, this one is much easier and takes around four or five-days to complete. The trek leads you through alpine pastures, woods, and streams, before ending at Dunali, on the Chamba road.
Dharamshala is an ideal destination for rock climbing enthusiasts. One can go rock climbing over the ridges of the Dhauladhar range.
- Kareri Lake (near Kareri village) is also a famous trekking destination for travellers.
Dharamshala Cricket Stadium
Dharamshala Cricket Stadium (DCS) is a cricket stadium of international reputation, which serves as the home ground to the Himachal Pradesh state cricket team and for the IPL team Kings XI Punjab to a limited extent. By virtue of its natural backdrop, it is one of the most attractive cricket stadiums in India. In addition to Ranji matches, some international matches are held here. The first One day International held at the ground was played between India and England on Sunday, 27 January 2013 which England won by 7 wickets. In May 2011 a match between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Superkings was held here in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced the match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Stadium in Dharamshala.
The snow-capped mountains can be easily viewed throughout the year. An additional feature is the Dharamshala College nearby which is surrounded by pine trees on one side.
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
- Barry Kerzin, Physician to the Dalai Lama, Professor of Medicine and Buddhist monk.
- Namrata Singh Gujral, Hollywood actress
- Palden Gyatso, monk, international speaker, author of Fire Under the Snow and subject of the film of the same name (2008)
- Passang Lhamo, nun and activist, and former inmate of Drapchi Prison
- James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, died here.
- Alfred W. Hallett, artist who exhibited twice in Royal Academy of Arts London and lived 41 years at Dharamkot in upper Dharamshala died here in 1986.
Notes and references
- Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 11, p. 301
- "Seminar on Katoch dynasty trail". Tribune India. 2009-11-04.
new findings by researchers suggest "the Katoch dynasty dates back to 8,000 years and its 300 rulers ruled in the pre-Mahabharata period and the present scion of this clan, Aditya Dev Katoch, is the 488th member of the clan in the lineage" The researchers claimed "this dynasty is not only the oldest ruling clan of India but also the oldest dynasty of the world and its founder, Adipursha, had come from Mongolia about 11,000 years back".
- Imperial Gazetteer of India (1908), Vol. II, p. 301.
- www.mcllo.com A Non-Profit Informative, Travel and Community website of Dharamshala, McLeodGanj and Kangra Valley
- Dharamshala The Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 11, p. 301.
- Imperial Gazetteer of India (1908), Vol. II, pp. 301-302.
- Imperial Gazetteer of India (1908), Vol. II, p. 302.
- See, for example, http://hptdc.nic.in/access.htm, which includes both common spellings on the same page.
- See Devanagari transliteration#Consonants
- "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
- Census of India
- "Area of Dharamshala Town" (PDF).
- "Dharamsala Climatological Table Period: 1951–1980". India Meteorological Department. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- "Ever recorded Maximum and minimum temperatures up to 2010" (PDF). India Meteorological Department. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- Verma, V. 1996. Gaddis of Dhauladhar: A Transhumant Tribe of the Himalayas. Indus Publishing Co., New Delhi.
- Handa, O. C. 1987. Buddhist Monasteries in Himachal Pradesh. Indus Publishing Co., New Delhi. ISBN 81-85182-03-5.
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