Best known as the home of the Dalai Lama and the base of Tibetan government in exile, Dharamsala (more correctly its upper town of McLeod Ganj) is an intriguing hub of activity in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. It was once a backwater until the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1960 forced the Dalai Lama and many other Tibetans into asylum. It’s now a honeypot for those searching for cool crisp air, picturesque splendour and treks through quaint towns and villages. More importantly the area is a centre for the study of Buddhism and Tibetan culture and along the streets you’ll find colourful Tibetan shops, yoga classes, temples, monasteries, nunneries and some fantastic Tibetan eateries. It’s arguably one of North India’s most enthralling and unique places but make sure you bring a raincoat between June and September, as this is one of the wettest areas in India. Between November and March the temperatures are very cool.