Tibetan influence is strong in the north of Himachal Pradesh. The touristy places that have the most Tibetan influence in the state are Dharamshala and Bir. In fact, you can also study Buddhism in these places.
Dharamshala – Dalai Lama’s home
Many people reach Dharamshala by bus through the winding roads of northern Himachal Pradesh, but you can also get in here by train connecting to the nearest station at Pathankot followed by a bus or taxi or just get a taxi from Delhi, which takes about 10 hours. When you are in Dharamshala, you must visit the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet at Tsuglagkhang Complex. There are other places, such as Tibetan Library, Tibetan Museum, Tibetan Institute on Performing Arts, and Tibet World, which you may visit to know more about Tibetan influence in the place. You can take a day out to visit Bhagsunag waterfalls to have a magnificent view. There are plenty of hotels near Dharamshala so whether you are in budget or have enough cash to spend, you will surely find a kind of hotel that fits your need. There are plenty of places to learn and perform yoga, learn cooking, and also volunteer in social work in Dharamshala.
Bir-Billing – A Well-Established Tibetan Community
Set at the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, this picturesque town is divided into two regions – Upper Bir and Lower Bir. It can be easily reached by buses from Dharamshala and Delhi, or by toy train from nearby Pathankot, or by taxis from Pathankot or Dharamshala. You can visit Chokyi Lodro College of Dialectics if you are interested in higher Buddhist philosophical study, visit the Palpung Sherab Ling – a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, and also can be a part of Dharmalaya Institute to have a great experience on compassionate living. Deer Park Institute is a great place to learn various aspects of Buddhism. Paragliding on the mountain top of Billing and shopping at Bir Tibetan Colony are recommended. You will find many hotels in Bir Billing that serve healthy and delicious food, so finding a place to sleep and eat is not at all difficult here.
When you would be traveling to Bir Billing from Dharamshala, you will come across a mountainous town with beautiful scenery and tea gardens – Palampur. To experience unmatchable views of Dhauladhar range, you can go to a 300 m wide channel called Neugal Khad, located few kilometers outside Palampur. Next to it, there is a beautiful garden to explore – Saurabh Van Vihar. Jakhni Mata Temple, Baijnath Temple, Chamunda Devi Temple, and Brijeshwari Temple are few famous temples in and around Palampur. You will find lovely hotels in Palampur and overnight stay is recommended in this beautiful place.
Experiencing and exploring Tibetan influence on northern Himachal Pradesh is really exciting. If you have the head luck, then you can also meet Dalai Lama in Dharamshala – but do not plan it, just check if you are lucky enough when you are there.