Dharamsala (also Dharamshala) is a city and a municipal council in Kangra district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is the district headquarters. It was formerly known as Bhagsu. The Dalai Lama's residence in McLeodGanj and the headquarters of Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government in exile) are in Dharamshala. Dharamshala is 18 kilometres from Kangra.
Dharamshala is a city in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and is surrounded by dense coniferous forest consisting mainly of stately Deodar cedar trees. The suburbs include McLeodGanj, Bhagsunath, Dharamkot, Naddi, ForsythGanj, Kotwali Bazaar (the main market), Kaccheri Adda (government offices such as the court, police, post, etc.), Dari, Ramnagar, Sidhpur, and Sidhbari (where the Karmapa is based).
The village of McLeodGanj, lying in the upper reaches, is known worldwide for the presence of the Dalai Lama. On 29 April 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) established the Tibetan exile administration in the north Indian hill station of Mussoorie. In May 1960, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was moved to Dharamshala.
Dharamshala is the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India. Following the 1959 Tibetan uprising there was an influx of Tibetan refugees who followed the 14th Dalai Lama. His presence and the Tibetan population has made Dharamshala a popular destination for Indian and foreign tourists, including students studying Tibet.
One of the main attractions of Dharamshala is Triund hill. Jewel of Dharamshala, Triund is one day trek at the upper reaches of McLeodGanj, about 9 km from McLeodGanj.
Dharamshala is a Hindi word (derived from Sanskrit) that is a compound of dharma and sh?l?. A loose translation into English would be 'spiritual dwelling' or, more loosely, 'sanctuary'. Rendering a precise literal translation into English is problematic due to the vast and conceptually rich semantic field of the word dharma and the cultural aspect of India.
In common Hindi usage, the word dharamshala refers to a shelter or rest house for spiritual pilgrims. Traditionally, such dharamshalas (pilgrims' rest houses) were commonly constructed near pilgrimage destinations (often in remote areas) to give visitors a place to sleep for the night. When the first permanent settlement was created in the place now called Dharamshala, there was one such pilgrims' rest house on the site, and the settlement took its name from that dharamshala.