Dharmshala, Himachal Pradesh is a popular destination with backpackers or travellers keen on visiting the Himalayas and experiencing Buddhism in India. It’s not exactly a hop, skip and jump distance from Delhi. You can get from Delhi to Dharmshala via various modes of transport.
Note – People use Mcleodganj and Dharmshala interchangeably. While Dharmshala is the town, Mcloedganj is a suburb, at higher elevation, closer to trekking trails and the Buddhist monasteries.
There are daily flights between Delhi and Dharmshala (Spicejet and Air India). The flight duration is a little over an hour. Flying is the fastest and most convenient way to travel. However, do keep a couple of things in mind with regards to the flights
- If not booked well in advance Delhi to Dharmshala flight prices can soar as the frequency of flights is low
- Be prepared, this flight gets cancelled often either due to fog in New Delhi in late December or January or inclement weather in Dharmashala and that makes landing difficult.
You can always depend on a bus should the flight be cancelled, but be careful before planning onward connections if booking a flight between Delhi and Dharmshala.
There are daily overnight trains between Delhi and Dharmshala and vice versa. Some trains run daily, some run a few times a week. Almost all of the trains are overnight trains, travel time ranging between 9.5 to 13 hours, depending on the train. Always take the train with the shorter duration as else you are better off taking an overnight bus.
Points to keep in mind
- Indian Railway bookings open 120 days in advance, so book in advance.
- If tickets are not available, always explore tickets under Tourist Quota
- The nearest rail head to Dharmshala is Pathankot. So you still have a 2.5 hour drive to follow after the train or to reach the railway station.
- Pathankot has two railway stations i.e. Pathankot city and Pathankot cantonement. Include both options when searching for a train.
Dehli to Dharmshala by bus is one of the most dependable options. i.e. you will always get tickets, even if last minute and while buses might get delayed they are not often cancelled owing to inclement weather conditions.
If you do not find overnight buses particularly uncomfortable, taking a bus is better than a train as it drops you right up to Dharmshala.
An expensive option and a long drive over ten hours, but you can rent a car and driver and drive between the two places. Expect to pay at least INR 10,000 for the drive, although it could be higher.
A slight detour, but highly recommended is to include Amritsar when planning a trip to Dharmshala. You can take a train to Amritsar (plenty of daily and convenient trains) and then a bus or a taxi to Dharmshala (6 hours)
Alternatively you can visit Amritsar on the way back. Amritsar has a busy airport with daily flights to and from Delhi.
If planning to spend more time in Dharmshala, you can also take a train to Kalka or Chandigarh, then visit Shimla, followed by Dharmshala.
We know this region well and would be happy to help you plan your trip around Himachal Pradesh and North India. You can contact us here.