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Dharamshala, home to Dalai Lama

by on August 29, 2007

dalai-lama.jpgDharamshala is a home to Dalai Lama in Himachal Pradesh a weekend getaway from Delhi is surrounded by a stretch of the Dhauladhar Mountains, overlooking the Kangra Valley. I went to meet Dalai Lama because of whom Dharamshala was put on the world map. The famous Kotwali Bazaar is in Lower Dharamshala and the Upper Dharamshala is more residential with the elegant bungalows and the cantonment. Only a distance of 10kms separated these two communities. And a short walk away was the Mcleodganj.

Kotwali bazaar consisted of a number of shops selling woolens including the locally woven Kullu and Kinnauri shawls on both the sides of the roads, with little cafes where I had a cup of hot tea with my friends and went shopping. Then we went to see the Kangra Art Museum but our bad luck it is closed on Sundays and Mondays so we were not able to see its wonderful collection of miniatures. So we went to see the Yol Camp where Italian prisoners of war were lodged during World War II, and also the War Memorial nearby, which commemorates the sacrifice of Himachal war heroes. Next day we went to a walk in Upper Dharamshala which was the most amazing part of our journey. The road passes through the deeply wooded Forsytheganj with bungalows set back from the road. dharamshala.jpgAnd just ahead was the St. John’s Church which was a pretty stone building that holds Viceroy Lord Elgin’s Memorial, who had died here in some 1860’s.

And a couple of turns brought us to the main chowk of Mcleodganj. The Dalai Lama’s Tibetan settlement was full of colour and life. I found everything from monks to feisty restaurants, shop owners and hippies. As I took the wooden trail the prayer wheels and carpet shops fade into the distance to Gelugpa Monastery, where Dalai Lama residence is. However the monastery to me was little disappointing at first as was built in a government building but inside it the great statue of Buddha, the thankas and other ritual and votive objects soon distract from its severe symmetry.

At sidhpur on the Yol road was Norbulingka which is a center devoted to the preservation of Tibetan arts and crafts and was set in a Japanese style garden, Norbulingka had a temple, shops, the Losel Dolls museum, thanka painting centre, tailoring section and a café. I enjoyed shopping at Mcleodganj more as there were Tibetan carpets, thankas, wooden masks, metal votive objects, paper drawings, beads and many interesting things. I stayed at Chonor House where the celebrity such as the Hollywood Star Richard Gere stays most often. And then there is Hotel Bhagsu and Clouds End Villa.

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5 Comments
  1. Great article. I appreciate the perspective.

  2. I think the Simon Mills who left the post on June 18th is my brother. Please, if he reads this, please get in touch with me. You can contact me via our website at http://www.flcnyc.co.uk (it’s safer than me putting my email address up here!)

    Sorry for hijacking the original person’s blog, but I have been searching for him for some time.

    Alex

  3. raj permalink

    excellent place, i actualy went their during january and february 2008 and it was just amazing, you get to experience the natural outstanding beauty and it’s full of tourists, many hippies but still amazing, i visited the main temple and stayed in the hotel although some were prices were way to much but then i and my friends found a nice hotel giving us the right price, eating different foods and exploring the place, it really is a amazing place and definatley worth seeing but if you have kids then personally i would not suggest it because it can be very difficult for children, it’s just out of this world but then so is rest of inida

  4. Simon Mills permalink

    I have been to Mcleod Ganj in August 2003, which is actually where the Dalai Lama resides.
    It was THE most amazing experience of my life, I waited one day whilst he was doing his teachings and when he finished he walks down to greet people..hundreds of them all races, He made a bee line for me and held my hand, I burst into tears..of joy and compassion, this is truly a place to visit just to get a glimpse of the man “who is god” let alone to have the fortunate chance of have him touch you.
    Many Tibetans came up to me after touching me and saying how lucky I was, as they had been waiting for years for him to touch them, I felt extremely priviledged for the honour, I had been campaigning for FREE TIBET for many years in the UK going on many protests in the UK, but never believed that I would be so lucky.
    Quite simply put GO THERE for yourself it’s worth the travelling to say the least.
    Love live His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, FREE TIBET.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.
    may all beings find enlightenment.

  5. I never was in Dharamshala but it is definately on my list. I hope I can buy nyseldf a new Tibetan Mala Bead while being there. I lately found this Tibetan Screensaver, which I really like at http://www.tibetansoul.com/tibetan-screensaver/

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