New Delhi to Dharamshala
If you are coming from Delhi I would advise to hire a cab. Outstation cabs aren't that costly if you are more than two persons.
The usual rates are Rs.9-10 per km for most hatchbacks and sedans while about Rs.12-14 for SUV's (Toyota Innova etc.). Also the minimum km reading for the day is counted to be 250 kms so in case you drive say 700 kms in three days you still have to pay the charge for 750 kms. Also per night driver charges of Rs.200-250 have to be paid.
The route is New Delhi>Panipat>Karnal>Ambala>Chandigarh>Ropar>Anandpur Sahib>Amb>Kangra in total 482 kms.
Hiring a cab also serves the purpose of moving around the town although most of the movement within Dharamshala can and should be done on foot.
Bus service is also readily available with very good and reliable services. But I would prefer going bu Bus only in case the no. of Individuals are less than 3. Bus fare would be something around Rs.700-1200 depending on availability but the most preferred is to book by http://hrtc.gov.in/hrtc/default.aspx.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Pathankot to Mc Leodganj by train
From Pathankot to Mc Leodganj by train and Bus
1.Pathankot to Kangra Mandir by train RS15 5hrs (Dep 10:50,Arr 15:45)
2.Kangra Mandir(cross the bridge) to Kangra Taxi stand by shared auto richsaw RS5
3.Taxi stand to bus stand by walk (less than 1 km)
4.Bus stand to Dharamsala by bus RS20 45min
5.Dharamsala to mc Leodganji by bus RS10 25min
From Mc Leodganj to Amritsar
1.Mc bus stand to Pathankot by bus RS110 5 hrs(actual)
2.Pathankot to Amritsar by bus RS65 4 1/2 hrs
Bus to Amritsar
This is the bus station in McLeod Ganj. It's nothing more that a counter underneath a restaurant with a single bus outside (bit different to chaotic bus stations I've been at elsewhere in India). I enquired about if there was a direct bus to Amritsar which the guy behind the counter said there was but it was at 5am in the morning AND it left from Dharamsala, 10 minutes down the road. I didn't really like the sound of this and then noticed on the board that there was a bus at 10am to Pathankot which is about 100km north of Amritsar and that Lonely Planet describes as a transport hub. This bus also left from the bus station in McLeod Ganj and not from Dharamsala. I took this bus which turned out to be a small quicker mini-bus that took 3.5hrs instead of 4. I then got another bus from Pathankot to Amritsar.
Bus from Shimla
I took a bus from Shimla to Dharamsala and it was rather an ordeal for more reasons than one. Firstly, the 7am bus I wanted to take broke down with an "Indian problem" and so I had to wait around this clapped out and hectic bus station till the next bus left at 9.40am. This bus was classed as a "super fast" one that took all of 9 hours. At 9.40am, I got to my seat and we left on time but seemed to stop for local people every 5 minutes and I eventually arrived in Dharamsala at 7pm. The journey cost Rs201.
Shared Buses Dharamshala - McLeod Ganj
The towns of McLeod Ganj and Dharamshala are about 9kms apart by road. While Dharamshala has the name as the home of the Dalai Lama it is actually at the small town of McLeod Ganj up the road. If you end up being dropped at Dharamshala (like we did when we caught the bus) the cheapest way to get up to McLeod Ganj is to jump in a shared taxi for the short trip. You can chuck your bags on the roof (the taxis are usually Tata Sumo 4WDs or something similar). then you cram into the taxi with the other passengers. The trip up the road is quite nice with a few good glimpses of the countryside. You will pass the church of St Johns on your way up just before hitting the town intself. The fare is about Rs.6 (AUS20c) and takes about 40 minutes (in spite of the short distance!)
- Budget Travel
By Train : The easiest way to get to McLeod Ganj is to take an overnight train from New Delhi to Pathankot, which is about 90 kms from Dharamshala. Regular buses are available from Pathankot for Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj. The journey by bus takes about 4 hours.
You can also hire a cab from the Pathankot station to McLeod Ganj. The cabs normally charge a two-way fare for the trip (Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500 approx). The travelling time by cab is about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
By Bus : Direct regular bus service is available from Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu, Shimla and Manali for Dharamshala. HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) has recently introduced a luxury bus service from New Delhi for McLeod Ganj. The Air-conditioned and Non-AC fares from Delhi are Rs. 750 and Rs. 300 approx. The journey from Delhi to McLeod Ganj by bus takes about 12 to 13 hours.
A private overnight bus service is also available from Majnu-ka-tila, a Tibetan settlement in North Delhi.
By Air : Gaggal, which is at a distance of 15 kms from Dharamshala, is the nearest airport to Dharamshala. Jagson Airline operates direct flight from Delhi to Dharamshala, thrice a week.
- Road Trip
The best way to see McLeod Ganj is by foot. You don't really need any transport unless you are planning to visit Lower Dharamshala or nearby towns.
Its a great place to just relax, roam and discover.
We drove up from Delhi. It is...
We drove up from Delhi. It is not a short drive. It takes around 10-12 hours depending on traffic and your speed, obviously. Since I was the driver designate, i can tell you that the drive is far from relaxing, at least while you are still in the plains. Typically chaotic Indian traffic, coupled with roads that Schumacher would commit suicide over, make for a pit stop (tea and nibbles) every hour to two hours, depending on the stretch you have just been wrung through! Having said that, there is nothing better than driving in the Indian Himalayas. The sheer beauty that surrounds you, coupled with the wonderful, winding roads soon makes you shake off any torpor, and leaves you excited about the trip!
In Dharamsala itself, there are auto-rickshaws and buses. you can always walk, and if you're from outside India, I would suggest this mode of travel. You get to see the town better this way, and it certainly gives you a better flavour than when you are hurtling up or down the mountain in motorised transport.
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