DHARAMKOT with CHILDREN : Things to Know Before You Go!

Dharamkot (2109m) is a quaint little, hippy-dippy hill station in Himachal Pradesh, India with only one road that ends where the village starts.

It’s a place where you will hardly find families visiting ( with ours being an exception). It’s mostly populated with locals (naturally, duh!), Non-Indian tourists and few Indian backpackers. McLeod Ganj and Dharamshala are more family oriented destinations.

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WHERE?

Asia > India > Himachal Pradesh > Kangra Valley > Dharamkot

WHY DHARAMKOT ?

Dharamkot is a Hippies’ paradise !! It has a very spaced out feeling about it. It is not a place to come and “see” but a place to Trek and Dine and soak in the tranquility of nature. This place has many cheap (read reasonable) places to stay and awesome food (mostly Israeli cuisine) to taste.

Read: Visit with Children, India’s first, Madame Tussauds Museum, New Delhi

This place can be enjoyed solo as well as with adventure-loving children!

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The Trip to Dharamkot for us was our FIRST UNPLANNED TRIP EVER with our CHILDREN! Except for our bus bookings, we had done no other booking or planning. Having experienced this once, I think we are ever so motivated and tempted to try more of such unplanned trips!

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WORD OF CAUTION !! As a “mother” AND a “Non-smoker”, I was balked at the very thought of my children dining at the same place people are smoking cigarettes and hash (charas)!!

Read: It is OK to be a “Me Time Mom” – an Open Letter to all mothers!

However, I soon figured out that it’s either best for kids to play in the open area till food is served or find a place next to the Lamas in the cafe and you will have found a non-smoking area for your kids!!

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Radha Krishna Cafe! Dharamkot has many reasonable places to stay and awesome food to eat!

All said and done, Dharamkot has a sort of peaceful smell – almost as though there is an umbrella of serenity over it !! It’s a kind of place children run up and down, laughing and giggling and hopping around while parents take a “TimeOut”!

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TimeOut !!

THINGS TO DO WITH CHILDREN @DHARMAKOT :

Here are our top 7 recommendations for things to do with children at Dharamkot!

1.Trek to Triund and Camp Overnight :

Which is what we had come for to Dharamshala in the first place.

The Trek to Triund falls under the easy to moderate category. Though the Triund trek is very rocky and can be tiresome for the uninitiated, the view of the beautiful Dhauladhar range from the Triund top is worth all the effort.

The children superseded our expectations and trekked very well on the difficult terrain. It can take 4 to 6 hours depending on your fitness level. The kids took 4 hours 50 mins to be precise from Dharamkot to Triund Top. Many people start this trek from Galu Devi temple thereby saving 3 km / one hour trek.

Read:  Family trek to Mesar Kund, Munsiyari 

You can hire a guide at Galu Devi Temple. The route is well marked and we chose to go on our own, with a light backpack on our back for the night. We rented tents and sleeping bags which were delivered to us on Triund top.

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2.Visit the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Regional Mountaineering Centre :

‘Be Roman in Rome’ and ‘Be a Child when with Children’.

The kids had noticed the obstacles inside the Centre whilst crossing it on our way to McLeod Ganj and so it was a place we had to visit before we could visit absolutely anything else. 

 

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering

These pictures remind me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

“Mr. Wonka: “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted.”

Charlie Bucket: “What happened?”

Mr. Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.”

― Roald Dahl, Charlie, and the Chocolate Factor

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3. Picnic at the Dal lake (near  Tibetan children village) :

Dal Lake is a small greenish water lake by the Shiva Mandir in the village of Tota Rani. The cabs take around Rs 200/- from Dharamkot to Dal Lake. We were not ready to pay for cab and kids were too tired to walk it up and so we gave it a slip!

READ MORE: Rani Padmavati’s CHITTORGARH FORT is a must visit. Here’s Why?

4. Visit the Monasteries and Temples in McLeod Gunj and Dharamshala :

Chanting in air and peace in mind, if that’s what you are looking for you can visit the various monasteries and temples in Mcleod Gunj and Dharamshala. We visited the Namgyal Monastery which is also referred to as Dalai Lama’s temple. The temple is beautiful but crowded.

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Namgyal Monastery (Also referred to as Dalai Lama’s temple)

5. Getting High in Life on Chocolate :

Our Family favorite was BHAGSU CAKE (a spinoff of an English dessert called millionaire’s shortbread). It has three layers: shortbread, caramel, and chocolate!! Absolutely mind blowing for chocolate lovers like my children and I.

READ MORE: Why Kasauli is a good weekend getaway!?

6. Visit Tibetian Market and Cafes in Mcleod Gunj : 

The Mcleod GunJ market is full of warm fancy woolen caps and Jewelry Trinkets. If you get tired browsing or shopping the market try Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen!

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UPDATE: Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen used to be in the middle of the market area, but has recently moved to Bhagsu Road! 

McLeod Gunj Cafes are more crowded than Dharmkot’s!

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Check out the trinkets at Tibetian Market!

7. Chill out and Relax :

Dharamkot is a place where you can meditate, walk amidst Deodar trees, trek or do absolutely nothing and you would still be at peace with yourself! It’s a place to chill out and relax!

READ MORE: 18 AWESOME INSPIRING TRAVEL QUOTES to fuel your wanderlust in 2018!

HOW TO REACH HERE

  • Air India and SpiceJet fly to Gaggal Airport (also known as Kangra Airport) which happens to be the nearest airport to Dharamkot. From Gaggal Airport it is about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) to McLeod Ganj and takes about 45 minutes by taxi.
  • The nearest railway stations to Dharamkot are Pathankot and Chakki Bank. Chakki Bank is a smaller station near Pathankot. Once you reach Pathankot, there are three options to get to Mcleod Ganj:
  • Taxi (convenient and quickest but expensive): The taxi takes around 2.5 hours depending on the traffic but the fares are high.
  • Bus ( economical but usually crowded): the bus stops at every village and takes around 4 to 5 hours.
  • and the  Kangra Toy Train (very very slow but spectacular): tickets are available at Pathankot Railway Station. The Toy Train leaves Pathankot at 9:05 am and reaches Kangra at 1:45 pm.
  • Regular Deluxe bus services are available from Delhi, Chandigarh, and Pathankot to Dharamshala. We booked Himachal Road Transport Corporation‘s Himsuta A/C(Volvo) Seater (2+2) for Rs.1272/- on www.redbus.in
  • We took Yellow Line Metro to Delhi ISBT Kashmiri Gate to avoid Delhi traffic. I must say ISBT was everything that I had not expected it to be. It was clean and air-conditioned and our bus departed on time. Our bus left sharp 8:30 pm and we reached McLeod Ganj the next morning around 7:30 am.

READ MORE: Feeling High at the Highest Post Office in India 

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For hubby dear and the then 8-year-old, a couple of hours on winding mountain roads is a sure set recipe for sickness.

On the advice of a doctor friend, whose child has a similar problem, we gave avomine tablet to the kids and they slept like babies!!

Much to our relief, contrary to our previous experiences, they were fresh when they woke up and were all set to explore the place.

From McLeodGanj bus stop, there’s a shortcut to Dharamkot which depending upon your fitness level can take anywhere between 15 to 30 mins.

Since we had luggage and children with us, we chose to hire a cab which cost us Rs.200 / – . However, on all our subsequent visits to McleodGanj, we did not bother to hire a cab and chose to travel up and down the hill on foot.

READ MORE: Top Bloggers suggest 10 awesome places to visit in Rajasthan 

WHERE TO STAY and WHERE TO EAT !!

You can walk in almost any cafe in Dharamkot and ask the staff for a place to stay since most of them rent out rooms in their own properties.

If they are booked, they will soon call out Bhai (or Chacha or Aunty), aapke pass room hai kya ?

Since there is not much to do you can go exploring home stays and zero down on the one which suits your needs. You can find rooms starting at Rs.500 / – to Rs. 2000/- per night. If you are staying longer you can get a good bargain.

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I Loved this Cappucino @Trek and Dine!

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that every single café that we visited in Dharamkot had totally nailed their salads, hummus, pasta, wood-fired pizzas, bruschettas, and shakshuka. 

At the entry point of Dharamkot is Dharmkot Chowk ( 10 minutes from McleodGanj) and at the chowk is the Himalaya Tea Shop. This is the only place which sells Wai Wai Noodles in the whole of Dharamkot and McLeodGanj area and so for my ‘Wai Wai’ loving kids, this was the most favorite place to be in.

READ MORE: Top Bloggers suggest 10 awesome homestays to check out in India with family

Himalaya Tea Shop, as the name suggests, is not a Homestay. This place is good for titbits. This place is also at the starting point of Triund Trek.

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As you move down from here, a narrow lane on the right leads you to this serene picturesque cafe called Morgan’s Place. This place has rooms to stay and there is an outdoor and indoor sitting area for dining. We liked everything we ordered here especially their wood oven pizzas.

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Little further down is Radha Krishna Cafe. We found this place comparatively more expensive than the other cafes.

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The kids found this description at the Radha Krishna Cafe highly amusing !!

At the start of the Dharamkot Market is Dharamkot Inn, which is where we stayed. A family room at Dharamkot Inn cost us Rs.1000/- and extra mattress for Rs. 200/-. The staff was exceptionally hospitable and amicable.

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Dharamkot Inn: Comparatively expensive but very Hospitable Staff!

and then there was TREK AND DINE !

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Everything that comes out of the kitchen is an eye candy!

Our family favorite and of all the days we were at Dharamkot, we spent most of our time here. Their set breakfasts are a treat to have.

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PS. This post is an Edited-repost from my Personal Blog post-https://bhataktimaa.wordpress.com

Have you been to a Hippie Hill station? How was your Experience? Don’t forget to write about it in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “DHARAMKOT with CHILDREN : Things to Know Before You Go!

  1. Wow! Beautifully written, Richa! I’m set to visit Dharamshala/McLeodganj on 25th of this month. Would surely make a short trip to Dharamkot. Love your style of writing…simple yet powerful. Keep writing 🙂

    • Hey Anjali, thanks for the lovely words 🙂 and Hope you have a lovely time in Dharamshala. Looking forward to reading your experience and tips. Much Love 🙂

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