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Dharamshala is built of the tall sides of the Kangra Valley in the Western Himalayas. The green and red roofs of its dotted buildings stand out among the coniferous hills and white-edged mountain tops. The city is a unique mix of Tibetan, British and Himachali cultures.

The city has Tibetan roots that date back to the 8th century, but has a majority Hindu population. In 1850, the area was annexed by the British, who named the city after a Hindu rest house that stood there. The British were fond of Dharamshala due to its cool climate and had plans to make it the summer capital of India, however, these plans were scuppered when the Kangra earthquake laid waste to the city in 1905. The town was largely rebuilt by the Gurkha regiment who were stationed there, but Shimla was chosen as the summer capital.

In 1959, the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet, and the Prime Minister of India allowed him to settle in Dharamshala. Dharamshala has been the continual home of the Dalai Lama ever since, and many Tibetan Buddhists have come to settle in the area, setting up monasteries and schools.

There are plenty of good walks you can do in the hills around Dharamshala, so bring a good pair of shoes. The Triund trek is a 10-kilometre loop that provides a beautiful view of the Himalayas and the surrounding valleys. There is also the walk to Bhagsu Waterfall, where it is possible to go for a swim. Whichever walk you choose to go on, make sure you dress appropriately and bring plenty of water. Weather conditions can change very quickly even in summer.