Lying beneath the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, Dharamshala was a picturesque town which shot to global fame when the 14th Dalai Lama left his Tibetan headquarters in 1959, escaped to India, and settled down in the upper reaches of the town, known as McLeodganj. Subsequently, the Dalai Lama’s residence in exile began to attract a large number of pilgrims and travellers.
During festivals and in peak tourist season, visitors often complain that the road distance of nine km from lower Dharamshala (Kotwali Bazar area) to McLeodganj can take unusually long to cover. The just opened Dharamshala Skyway is about to end the travel woes, reducing the travel time to nine minutes.
The aerial ropeway, built at a cost of ₹207 crore according to media reports, is 1.75 km long. It consists of a mono-cable detachable gondola system, with 18 cabins. Each cabin can accommodate eight people. There are 10 towers and two stations. The top station is in front of the Dalai Lama Temple in McLeodganj.
A one-way ticket costs ₹300 and a round journey ticket costs ₹500. The Skyway has been executed through a public-private partnership project between Dharamshala Ropeway Limited and Himachal Pradesh tourism and civil aviation department, state Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said while inaugurating it on January 19, 2022. However, according to local media reports, residents are not happy with the ticket price because a one way journey by car (accommodating four people) takes around ₹200.
Nevertheless, cable cars are a favourite with tourists, and with the expectation of catching an aerial view of the towns, the valleys, and the forests of oak and pine on the upper reaches, the Skywalk is likely to be popular with visitors.
Media reports from early January this year said that Himachal Pradesh is slated to have 13 ropeway projects with a total length of 111.65 km at an estimated cost of ₹5,644 crore.