What To Keep In Mind When Traveling To Dharamshala During Covid
A hill station that offers magnificent views of the snow-clad Dhauladhar Ranges, Dharamshala is a place that is scenic and unique. Once there, you’ll get to experience the bustling life of Lower Dharamshala. But as you climb higher, you’ll see a flourishing Tibetan community interspersed with British colonial architecture at McLeodganj and Forsyth Ganj.
The alpine and cultural beauty of this hill station aside, you may want to know if it’s safe to travel to Dharamshala during Covid. The threat of the pandemic is still very real, so we won’t recommend traveling anywhere yet. But if you’re taking all the necessary precautions, you may set out on a trip to Dharamshala.
How To Travel To Dharamshala During Covid
Dharamshala is located in the gorgeous state of Himachal Pradesh, but currently, the state has a few restrictions in place to combat the Covid pandemic. As of June 8, Himachal’s Covid restrictions have been extended to June 14. Though the borders haven’t been shut for tourists, all visitors need to have an approved ePass and a negative RT-PCR test to enter.
Getting To Dharamshala By Air
The Kangra Airport in Gaggal is the closest to Dharamshala, about 13 kilometers away. Both international and domestic passengers will be thermally screened upon arrival and must have the Aarogya Setu app installed on their phones.
International passengers must submit a Covid self-declaration form at least 72 hours prior to departure. Institutional quarantine may be avoided by submitting a negative RT-PCR test result (taken within 96 hours before departure). However, the 14-day home quarantine remains mandatory.
Domestic passengers, on the other hand, do not need to submit a self-declaration form. Those arriving from a Red Zone district outside of Himachal Pradesh and those showing Covid symptoms will be in institutional quarantine for 14 days. If the travelers coming from the Red Zones have a Covid negative test report (taken within 48 hours before departure), they can be under home quarantine instead of institutional quarantine.
Getting To Dharamshala By Train
The closest railway station (which is connected to major railway lines) to Dharamshala is Pathankot and is about 87 kilometers away. Once you get off the train at Pathankot, you’ll get enough buses and cabs to Dharamshala.
But if you love traveling by train, you can hop aboard the toy train from Pathankot and get off at Kangra. It’ll be a really slow journey, but you can enjoy the views of the landscape as you travel to Dharamshala.
Getting To Dharamshala By Road
Dharamshala is well-connected by roads to Pathankot, which in turn is connected to major cities. However, the buses are running at 50% occupancy to increase social distancing. We’d recommend that you travel in your personal vehicle to reduce Covid infection risk. Yes, it can get tiring and even expensive. In that case, you can travel with a friend/family member who can drive. That way, you can get a break and enjoy the scenery.
Places To Visit In Dharamshala
With a large number of monasteries and a culture that’s markedly Tibetan, McLeodganj is a place that’s both naturally and culturally vibrant. This town is now home to the exiled Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan refugees. You can experience the cuisine here in the quaint cafes and restaurants.
It’s not just within McLeodganj that there are things to do. As the town is located in the Kangra Valley, the land around the hills and forests around McLeodganj invites you for adventures. The novice trekker can set out to the Triund Hill and in the winter, you’ll get great views of the valley and the mighty Dhauladhar Ranges. Or you can work your way towards the Bhagsu Falls and take a dip in the frigid waters. After a hard day of trekking, you can sleep beneath the stars in the open by going camping.
If what you seek is tranquility, you can visit the many monasteries around McLeodganj (keeping in mind the Covid guidelines, that is). Or you can explore the majestic rock-cut Masrur Temples, which were built in the 8th century.
This is a place that’ll allure travelers with a love for straying off the beaten path and go exploring on their own. Dharamkot is about 5 kilometers from Dharamshala and 2 kilometers from McLeodganj, so you can easily get to this sleepy village on foot. A walk along the pine trees and magnificent views of the Kangra Valley will keep you rejuvenated all the way to Dharamkot.
It’s a little village that has evaded the eyes of the tourist crowds – thanks to the fact that a ‘proper’ road ends at the beginning of Dharamkot. From here, you’ll be walking and finding yourself in blissful solitude. The traveler who wants to achieve tranquility can do so in Dharamkot. Given the popularity of Dharamkot among Israeli youth, you’ll find eateries that serve Israeli cuisine and teeming with Israelis.
If the adventurer in you is craving for something more exciting, you should set out on the many treks that begin from Dharamkot – the Triund Trek and the Indrahar Pass Trek are among the more popular ones. But all the same, the leisurely traveler can explore the many meadows, forests, and waterfalls that adorn Dharamkot.
Dharamshala is located in Kangra Valley itself, but a little out of the hill station’s boundaries are a variety of activities that you can engage in. The verdant valley of the summer will give way to a landscape decked in snow during the winter. So irrespective of when you’re visiting, Kangra Valley will always be a feast for the eyes.
Kangra Valley is a hub of adventure sports too. The thrill-seeking traveler can take a plunge from a height of 2400 meters in Billing and soar over the valley by taking up tandem paragliding. The many hills and mountains around Kangra Valley also offer opportunities for trekking and mountaineering.
The connoisseur of tea can explore the tea gardens of Dharamshala. They may be among the smallest in India, but this is where the famous Kangra comes from. You can stroll along the estates with a cup of tea while marveling at the snow-capped Dhauladhar. Along with this, you can also set out for nature walks for some bird watching and also get some pictures for your social media!
Tips For Traveling During Covid
Dharamshala can offer you the change in scenery you so wanted after months of lockdown, and the mountain air will surely invigorate you. But you shouldn’t be forgetting that you’re traveling during Covid, so you’ll need to adhere to these extra precautions:
Practise social distancing always. You MUST wear a mask and wash your hands regularly. Or you must use a hand sanitizer with over 60% alcohol.
The ones who are below 10 years and above 65 years of age, and with underlying medical conditions should avoid traveling now.
The more the people, the greater the risk of infection. With that in mind, keep your travel group as small as possible.
Don’t have close interactions with strangers. Keep a 6-feet distance and wear a mask.
Use cashless transactions as much as possible.
Book your stays only in accommodations that are Covid-ready and adhere to the government’s SOP.
You may have seen how the Covid rules get stringent and relaxed often. So you need to update yourself with the travel guidelines of Himachal Pradesh and that of your home state.
Install the Aarogya Setu app on your phone and carry the coronavirus self-declaration form with you.
Obey the Covid safety rules to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.
Even if you have mild flu-like symptoms before the trip, it’s best to skip it to be on the safer side.
If you develop Covid symptoms during and after the trip, inform your accommodation provider, your travel buddies and seek medical help immediately.
Is It Safe To Travel During The Covid-19 Pandemic?
To put it briefly, travel during the Covid pandemic comes with risks, and isn’t completely safe. It should ideally be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Nonetheless, if you do intend on traveling, ensure you take every single precaution you can to avoid the spread of the virus. Even if you’ve been vaccinated, keep in mind that you can still carry the virus and spread it to others, as well as contract the disease yourself.
Is Himachal Pradesh Open For Tourism?
Yes, Himachal Pradesh is open for tourism, and borders haven’t been shut. However, there are rules to be followed. All people entering the state have to have an approved ePass as well as a valid Covid negative certificate.
How Can I Plan A Trip To Dharamshala?
When planning a trip to Dharamshala, make sure you account for the travel time. This will differ depending on where you’re coming from and the mode of transportation you choose to take. In addition, make sure you spend a little time in Lower Dharamshala, McLeodganj and Forsyth Ganj as well. Finally, choose transportation and accommodation to fit your budget, and you’re good to go.
Is Dharamshala Worth Visiting?
Dharamshala has some of the most unbelievable views of snow-capped mountains bathed in the orange-gold of the sun, and lush green forests bursting with life. There’s loads of culture and delicious cuisine to be explored, both of which are derived from the Tibetan people who live there. All of this is set among British colonial architecture and the untamed nature of the region. In our opinion, all of this definitely makes Dharamshala worth visiting.
How Can I Go To Dharamshala?
If you wish to fly, take a flight to the Kangra Airport in Gaggal, 13 kilometers away. The Pathankot railway station is the closest major railhead, and is around 87 kilometers away. You’ll get plenty of cabs and buses heading to Dharamshala from here. You can also drive up to Dharamshala by road since it’s well connected.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Dharamshala?
The months of March to June are the best time to visit Dharamshala, and this is also the peak tourist season. The months from July onwards are filled with heavy rains, making it impossible to step out for sightseeing. Plus, the winter months from November to February are cold and snowy.
How Far Is Manali From Dharamshala?
Manali is around 219 kilometers away from Dharamshala, and the easiest way to get to Dharamshala from Manali is by road. The journey will take you anywhere between 7 and 9 hours. You can drive there if you have your own car, or you can also hop onto a bus.
How Many Days Should I Stay In Dharamshala?
4 to 5 days is sufficient time to spend in Dharamshala, since this gives you enough time to take in the sights. However, we recommend spending a week here so you can truly soak in the Tibetan culture and cuisine, the architecture and the marvels of nature that it boasts.
Is Dharamshala Safe To Visit Now?
We would advise putting off a visit to Dharamshala for the moment, since cases haven’t completely gone down in the Kangra district just yet. An approved ePass and a valid RT-PCR negative report are mandatory to enter the state, and a partial lockdown is in effect up until June 14.
Can Travel Lead To The Spread Of Covid-19?
Yes, traveling can lead to the spread of Covid-19. Even if you’ve taken one or both doses of the vaccine, you can still contract the virus, as well as pass it on to others. Ensure you follow safety measures like having a double mask on, regularly sanitizing your hands, and avoiding cash payments and public transportation.
A Guide To Traveling To Dharamshala During CovidTraveling To Dharamshala During The Coronavirus Pandemic