Some of the interesting places near Dharamshala that you can visit on a day trip are Dharamkot, Naddi Gaon, Bhagsu Village, Jogindernagar, and Palampur among others.
Dharamkot a settlement three kms north from McLeodganj past the Mountaineering Institute is set amidst tall pines and rhododendron forests the site offers good views of the Dhauladhar range and has the Tushita Research Centre that runs courses in meditation.
At Dharamkot is the Tibetan Children’s Village, which runs a school and training institute to about 2,000 students. Many of the children who stay here are orphans, while some have been left in safe custody by the parents who returned to Tibet.
Naddi Gaon, one-and-a-half km, further up along a bridge near the Dal Lake offers some fabulous views of the Dhauladhar range. An 8 km trek from Dharamkot leads to the plateau of Triund at 2,827 metres. With a forest lodge set on top of the hill, the retreat is at the foot of the Dhauladhar peak with trails going further ahead into the Chamba valley.
Bhagsu Village about 2 kms east of McLeodganj, sits on the banks of a small mountain stream. A waterfall feeds the stream and goes into a tiny pool where pilgrims bathe before praying at the Shiva temple of Bhagsunath. Some small lodges and family guesthouses are available for staying at Bhagsu.
Jogindernagar, at 1,220 metres is the railhead for the narrow gauge railway line from Pathankot. A small town with nothing much happening, it has a hydel power project that draws water from the Uhl river. Hotels, including Himachal Tourism’s bungalow are adequate for an overnight halt.
Baijnath the temple town has a complex with some ancient shrines dating back to the early 13th century is another interesting place near Dharamshala. The most important temple of Vaidyanatha dedicated to Lord Shiva is considered one of the 12 sacred jyotirlingams (lingams of light) and was originally built in the 9th century.
Devoted to Shiva’s incarnation as the lord of physicians, this temple is built in the classic Nagar style with niches containing images of other deities. A life-size Nandi bull (Shiva’s carrier) stands at the entrance. There are some small hotels for overnight halt at Baijnath.
Palampur a charming little town 40 kms from Dharamshala is surrounded by tea plantations and beautiful snow peaks and this quiet retreat thrives on its fruit orchards. A 300 metre wide gorge called the Neughal Khad is worth seeing when the Bundla River swells and spurts through it during the monsoons.
Palampur is also on some popular trek routes and the nearest railway station is 5 kms away. There are several good hotels and resorts besides the Himachal Tourism hotel at Palampur.
Andretta, associated with the modern Indian painter Sardar Sobha Singh and Norah Richards, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi is a secluded village. The Sardar, who revived the Kangra School, is famed for his bright surrealistic paintings, often with devotional themes. A pottery centre run by an artist couple and a Writers’ Retreat run by the Punjab University are the other attractions at Andretta.