The Dhauladhar range is a southern branch of the main Outer Himalayan chain of mountains. It rises spectacularly from the Indian plains to the north of Kangra and Mandi. Dharamsala, the headquarters of Kangra district, lies on its southern spur in above the Kangra Valley, which divides it from Chamba.
The highest peak in the range, just behind Dharamsala, is the Hanuman Ka Tiba, or 'White Mountain', about 5,639 m. or 18,500 ft. high. There are several peaks which are close to 5,180 m. or 17,000 ft. Himachal Pradesh has the great fortune of having all the major Himalayan ranges represented in it. The Greater Himalayas that begin from near Ladakh and runs all the way to Mount Everest and Kangchenjunga in Sikkim, passing through Himachal Pradesh. The Pir Panjal Range starting from near Patni Top in Jammu and Kashmir all the way to Garhwal, passing through Himachal Pradesh. Finally, the Dhauladhar range, also known as the Outer Himalayas or Lesser Himalayas. They begin from near Dalhousie at the northwest end of Himachal Pradesh and glitter through the state to near the bank of the Beas River in the Kulu district of Himachal Pradesh. While they end near Badrinath in Garhwal, they lie almost entirely in Himachal Pradesh. They are distinctive in their typical dark granite rocky formations with a remarkably steep rise culminating in sharp streaks of snow and ice at the top of their crested peaks. This distinctive profile is best seen from the Kangra valley from where they seem to shoot up vertically. The elevation of the Dhauladhars ranges widely from 3,500 m to nearly 6,000 m. From the banks of the Beas river in Kulu, the range curves towards the town of Mandi. Then, running north, it passes through Barabhangal, joins the Pir Panjal range and then moves into Chamba.
The Dhauladhars have a peculiar topography. Extremely rocky with a lot of granite, the flanks of the range contain a lot of slate stones (often used for the roofs of houses in the region), limestones and sandstones. Ascending from any side is a tough business, given the near vertical incline. This calls for really tough trekking and mountaineering. There is very little habitation on the range given the harsh conditions. But meadows abound near the crest providing rich pastures for grazing where large numbers of Gaddi shepherds take their flocks. The top of the crest is buried under vast expanses of thick snow. As a matter of fact, Triund - Ilaqua, approached from the hill station of McLeod Ganj, is the nearest and most accessible snow line in the Indian Himalayas. The range has rich flora and fauna and its exquisite beauty attracts mountain lovers who return many times over to savour the delightful trails and there are many of them.
Several peaks both virgin and scaled have drawn mountaineers from all over the world. Some of the well known ones are Mun (4610 m) near Dharamshala, Kailash (5655 m) in the sacred Manimahesh region, Gaurjunda (4946 m), near the Talang pass, which is also commonly referred to as the Dhauladhar Matterhorn, Christmas (4581 m), Toral (4686 m), Dromedary (4553 m), Riflehorn (4400 m), Lantern (5100 m), Arthur's Seat (4525 m), Camel (4520 m), Slab (4570 m) and several other named and unnamed peaks.
Due to the position of the range it receives two monsoons a year with heavy rains so, where the mountains have not been heavily logged, there are dense pine and Deodar forests. Because of their renowned beauty, the friendliness of the Gaddi people who live on both sides of the range, and relatively easy access from Delhi, they are popular for hikers and trekkers.