Namgyalma Stupa a House of Dalai Lama
McLeodganj is the finest recognized because of the headquarters of the Tibetan Federal government in Exile and the house of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. The Tibetan settlement here is a delightful illustration of their agreeable nature.
The neighborhood has taken more than the hospitality enterprise and presents inexpensive and clean accommodations and little friendly restaurants. All this can make McLeodganj is a colorful little town, a perennial den of tourists – a spot you are able to chill out in and do your own thing. While you stop to wonder at a Tibetan trinket or perhaps a shawl, you’ll recognize that your belly is involuntarily responding to the lovely smell of wantons wafting from a close-by joint. McLeodganj is steeped in Buddhist culture – you are able to come across anything from Tibetan food, excellent luck charms, and Thangkas to Enlightenment. In fact, quite a few disenchanted foreigners arrive here seeking solace, meditation, or to champion the Tibetan trigger.
Major Attractions in the Mc Leodganj City
As for sightseeing, you’ll be very agog with the sheer length of the itinerary. Start with the quaint church of St John-in-the-Wilderness, after which go over the host of Buddhist sites such as the Tsuglag Khang, Namgyal Monastery, Dip Se Chok-Ling Gompa, Gangchen Kyishong with its Library & Archives, and medical Institute, TIPA, Mani Lakhang Stupa, Nechung Monastery, Norbulingka Institute, and the Chinmaya Tapovan. If you’re in search of some classes on the Tibetan language or Buddhism, there’re enough options for that. The walks about this spot are just too good to be missed. Whether it’s Naddi or Dharamkot, Bhagsu or Triund, Dal Lake or Kareri Lake, you will be nothing less than spellbound.
Take Care Although you happen to be In Dharamsala
With heavy tourist traffic, Dharamsala is very cosmopolitan in character. However, a certain decorum needs to be observed whilst visiting Buddhist shrines. Walk clockwise about shrines and stupas and on the left-hand side within monasteries. Buddhist monasteries are open to all and you could even visit the resident lama. But be sure to be dressed modestly. An audience with the Dalai Lama can be arranged too but one cannot record the event – no cameras, video cameras, or sound recorders are allowed.
His Holiness – The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama could be the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. The title does not belong to any person. As soon as the Dalai Lama dies, his reincarnation is identified by traditional means and tests. The Dalai Lama is believed to be a reincarnation of the Buddha. When he dies, his soul is thought to enter the body of a newborn boy, who is then declared the new Dalai Lama.
Drepung Monastery The first man to bear the title of Dalai Lama was Sonam Gyatso, Grand Lama from the Drepung monastery and leader of your Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect. (Sonam Gyatso received it from the Mongol chief Altan Khan in 1578. ‘Yellow Hat’ sect was then applied retroactively to the previous leaders from the sect.) In 1642 another Mongol chief, Gushri Khan, installed the fifth Dalai Lama as Tibet’s spiritual and temporal ruler. His successors governed Tibet first as representatives of the Mongols, but from 1720 to 1911 as vassals of the emperor of China.
Tenzin Gyatso– The Current Dalai Lama
The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, could be the 14th spiritual leader in line. When China’s Communist regime occupied Tibet in 1950, it came into increasing conflict with His Holiness. The Dalai Lama left Tibet right after an unsuccessful rebellion in 1959 and has since lived in India. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for leading the nonviolent opposition to continued Chinese rule in Tibet. In 1995 the Dalai Lama came into conflict with Chinese authorities over the identification of a new Panchen Lama (the second most senior Tibetan religious authority).
In 1996 he published Violence and Compassion, in which he and French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière discuss topics of political and spiritual interest.
One look at the Dalai Lama’s bright beaming face is enough to convince you that if anyone can bring happiness and solace to this world, it can be him.
Fairs & Festivals of Mc Leodganj Near Dharamshala
Losar is the Tibetan New Year, the most popular festival of Dharamshala and Buddhist populated places like Lahaul. It’s celebrated with great gusto in late February-early March and its high point are the ritual dances. Homes and kitchens are cleaned vigorously to appease Thalpa the god of property and hearth.
The Losar Celebrations in Dharamshala
A grand feast and ritual dance are held two days before Losar. The dance, signifying the destruction of evil spirits, is accompanied by drums and reading (long trumpets). Originally it used to be performed in the courtyard of your Potala Palace, the main temple in Lhasa. The charm dance on the eve of Losar is a spectacular event with dancers wearing elaborate costumes and masks. Symbolizing great over evil, the dance marks the killing of a cruel Tibetan ruler – Langdarma (9th century).
Saga Dawa The 15th day of the fourth month in the Tibetan calendar is believed to be a very auspicious and significant day. It was on this day that Sakyamuni (Buddha) was conceived by his mother Queen Mayadevi; on this extremely day 35 years later, Buddha attained complete Enlightenment; and to top it all off, he passed into parinirvana, the ultimate state of peace, on the same day.
In fact, the whole month is said to possess these kinds of potency that anything you do, excellent or bad, is said to be multiplied a hundred thousand times! Consequently, people refrain from eating non-vegetarian meals, so much so that they even buy animals and set them free. Prayer wheels are set into motion with rare devotion during this month.
Held near the Dal Lake (1,700m) every August-September, this fair is especially favored by Girths and Gurkhas (hill tribes). There are the usual festivities of feasting and dancing.
Shopping Hubs – The Bazaars of Md Leogang
Shopping at McLeodganj Bazaar is very fun. It is really an excellent location to bargain for carpets and handicrafts (metalware, jewelry, jackets, handknitted cardigans, and gloves). Tibetans usually quote a fair price to commence with, so there could be no need for bargaining. Tibetan textiles, especially carpets, can be purchased from the office of Tibetan Handicrafts opposite the State Bank of India.
Fine New Zealand wool carpets and Indian wool carpets are also available. In fact, you may even watch them being made in the same outlet. You’ll be able to also have a chuba (the dress worn by Tibetan women) stitched on order.
Books on Tibet, its religion, and culture are easily available in McLeodganj (try Charitable Trust Bookshop), and so is Tibetan music. You’ll be able to take your pick from meditation music, folksongs, and Tibetan chants. Look out for Tibetan herbal incense at the Tara Herbal Gift Shop near the bus stand. In the Green Store, you could pick up some hand-painted T-shirts and handmade paper. But the most interesting shop is undoubtedly the old-fashioned Nowrojee Store run by a charming old couple. The couple is a storehouse of information in McLeodganj and is also extremely pleasant.
Arts & Crafts of McLeodganj
Right here are attractive carpets of traditional Tibetan designs. They are delicately woven and are a riot of colour. Motifs may perhaps vary from natural scenes to monuments to incidents from a folktale or mandalas (traditional Tibetan designs on the cosmos).
McLeodganj could be the spot for great thangkas. These are essentially ritual paintings displayed during certain Buddhist festivals, but they happen to be extremely popular with foreign visitors (and cost the earth too!). Thangkas are intricate and brightly colored scroll paintings on canvas, edged with a border of rich silk. They usually depict the Buddha and other deities and the wheel of life. The painting follows complex dicta like proportional grids for each diety and traditional vegetable or mineral colors are used. The Norbulingka Institute is the center of learning this ancient art of Tibet. You could also place your orders here.
WoodcarvingLike carpets and thangka painting, woodcarving is also something which the Tibetans excel. It can be in Dharamsala that the masters have kept this ancient tradition alive. and the center for all these activities is the Norbulingka. The woodcarvers make traditional and ceremonial carved furniture, like altars of all sizes, elaborate thrones, folding tables, incense burners, and so forth. Just after the carving is done the pieces are either polished or painted in bright colors.
While you’re in McLeod, the ideal grub to have is, of course, Tibetan chef-d’oeuvre. The aroma wafting from Tibetan food joints run by the locals is enough to tell you that. Try their wide range of delicious, non-spicy dishes such as tulpas (soups), noodle dishes (gyathuk, thin noodles; thenthuk, flat noodles), steamed or fried momos (dumplings), and shabakleb (pretty much like flat and round momos).
However, there’s a good deal additional on supply. Keeping the taste of both the international and domestic tourists in mind, McLeod has a wide range of eateries that serve all sorts of cuisine – Indian, Tibetan, Italian, Continental, Israeli, to name a number.
Friend’s Corner is great for breakfast; Hot Spot for fast food; Shambala for cakes and pancakes; and the German Bakery on MI Road for bread and brown rice (open till 0100). The aroma on Jogibara Street serves fantastic Israeli fare. The log-shaped, shack-like Chocolate Log surprises with its delectable cakes and snacks. Try Tibetan Dasang for excellent porridge, fruit muesli, and whole-wheat bread.
Think Globally, Act locally The residents of this tiny town of McLeodganj are excellent environment freaks, so don’t ever throw empty bottles and other garbage just anywhere; drop it all within the green bins. This new project, started by the Welfare office and a young Dutchman, is like a boon for this tourist-crammed place. Manned by only several, this profect does some wonderful work.
The four ‘green workers’ within the scheme collect about 40-50kg of recyclable stuff from about the spot each day, like paper, glass, plastic, and metals. In fact, wherever you stay at McLo, you might find a bin planted by these green workers. The Nechung and Namgyal gompas, the Dialectic School, and Gaden Chuling Nunnery have special baskets with separate sections for distinct materials. These are emptied once a week and the materials are then separated and sold. However, the money got is little greater than one worker’s salary.