This onset of summer has one more reason to drop everything and head to the cool mountains of Dharamsala. Himachal Pradesh’s abode for the bohemian traveller, the Tibetan town doubles up as the venue for the annual Dharamsala Film Festival (13th to 15th May). This year will mark the third year of the festival’s success of bringing alternative cinema to the forefront – cinema that celebrates consciousness and creativity. Resonating with the spiritual hills of Dharamsala, the well-ingrained theme of the festival provides cross cultural expansion and a medium for the soul to feel evolved. In a way it is perfect for travellers.
Festival entries: You will find yourself wooed by independent cinema from all over the world, delving into a variety of subjects like ‘the effects of arts on education, creative approaches to transformation, and the life-stories of inspirational people who exemplify the quest of spiritual awakening’. To get a taste of what may lie in store, watch last year’s Audience Award winning movie, One Track Heart: the Story of Krishna Das (USA, 2012). The festival is the brainchild of Swiss filmmaker Julien L. Barmer and Monika Nataraj.
You can also attend a half-day workshop for making the traditional Thangka paintings for Rs 1500.
Getting to Dharamsala: Dharamsala is well-connected from the capital city of India, by flights, trains and road. There are two daily flights from Delhi to Dharamsala. The closest railhead is Pathankot, which is about 2.5 hours from the hill station. Cabs charge Rs 1500 from the railway station to the town. Plenty of overnight buses are run by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) and they are a convenient option as they drop you in the heart of the town.
Stay in Dharamsala: Accommodation is available for all budgets in Dharamsala and places around, namely, Bhagsu, McLeodGanj and Dharamkot. One can walk to the festival but be mindful of the steep climbs and drops, as expected in a hill town. McLeodGanj is the best place to stay, if you want to also enjoy the bohemian vibe of the place; cafes, book shops and the easy going air about the place quickly sweeps you into its lazy aura. Recommended accommodations include Horizon Villa, Clouds End Villa, Navek- La Country Home and Chonor House.
Get in touch: Dharamsala Film Festival, P.O. Box 22,Dharamsala, District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh