Dharamshala & Mcleodganj: Home of HH The Dalai Lama
Our local towns. Population: 17,000
It was here in 1959 that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and his followers came after the Chinese invasion of Tibet , when Prime Minister Nehru granted him an area of land. The Dalai Lama is the recipient of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to him not only for his spiritual activities, but for his struggle for the liberation of the Tibetan people to practice their culture and Buddhist faith. Throughout his more than 50 years of exile, for spiritual as well as practical reasons, the Dalai Lama has worked for a peaceful settlement with China, which is in line with his pacifist approach to all personal and political conflicts in the world.
For the student of Tibetan culture there’s the monastery up at McLeod Ganj and the school of Tibetan studies and its library. McLeod Ganj is full of color and energy: in the middle of the main street there’s a small temple with a series of prayer wheels; and strings of mufti-coloured Tibetan prayer flags wave in the breeze. There are many restaurants, shops and market stalls selling local Indian and Tibetan goods. A short drive away is Norbulingka, a delightful Tibetan Arts and Culture center, with traditionally painted temple and buildings, museum and restaurant – all set in beautiful gardens. Here Tibetans study traditional arts: it takes 7 years to be a qualified painter!
His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives teachings and private audiences every year in March and several other times of year. Travelers may request an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet at his temple here. However, you need to check in advance (by contacting his Private Office in McLeod Ganj) because he is so much in demand by Tibetans, Indians and Westerners alike.
We can help arrange visits to Teachings.
The Tibetan Medical Centre, Men-Tsee-Khang, will be of interest to followers of alternative and traditional Tibetan medicine. The renowned Tibetan doctor, Yeshe Dendon, practices in Mcleodganj and can be consulted.
Dharamsala was originally a British hill resort and one of the most poignant memorials of that era is the pretty Church of St John in the Wilderness. Here Lord Elgin, Viceroy of India, was buried in 1863.It is only a short distance below McLeod Ganj and has beautiful stained glass windows.
The Kangra Art Museum is also in Dharamsala. It houses miniature paintings from the famous Kangra School of Art, which flourished in the Kangra Valley in the 17th century.
This mountain region of India is home to the Gaddi people – essentially shepherds – who still graze their flocks high up in the hills. Many outlying villages retain ancient ways of life, and on treks these can be visited.