Indians by heart welcomes and accept everyone as their own so is India and there is no other better place than Dharmasala to prove this. McLeod Ganj which may resembles to another province inside India situated in Dharmasala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Majority are Tibetans and the place is home to their spiritual leader but feels like belongs to all Indians too – Dalai lama and many Monks along with the monastery, one of the main reason for travelling to another hilly place in the lap of Great Himalayas.
Dharmasala is an internationally renowned tourist attraction blessed with the presence of beautiful Himalayas. A part of this town known as MacLeod Ganj, small in size but too big in terms of its fame as it is considered to be the world of spirituality because of the presence of Dalai Lama here. Probably many may confuse this particular name is something to do with monastery, Dalai lama etc but MacLeod is the then Punjab governor during the British rule then and ganj in Hindi means neighborhood.
Trying to brief on unknown details only makes embarrassment so save from history on Dalai Lama and the connection with this place here. All I know is about his exile and ongoing feud with Chinese Government and this is the place where India government allowed them to settle since the time of Pandit Jawaharlal Lal Nehru. India also gave permission to make the monarchy. This holy place is where many monks and nuns reside apart from a lot of Tibetans. I read somewhere that this place is also known as Tibetan Government in Exile.
The street down to Monastery from bus stop and parking area was lined with many shops on one side. A number of visitors, Indian nationals as well as people from foreign countries along with monks in their traditional red color were seen on the road. As per the information most of foreign nationals were arriving with the purpose volunteering with Tibetan community and few others for meditation and yoga. Though the street looked so busy some sort calmness was also prevailing in the environment like some Ashrams in other places.
Before reaching the monastery, on the halfway there was another Tibetan temple with lot of cylindrical wheels in periphery with many people trying to spin it with hands in clockwise direction. Never seen earlier anywhere but it really looked to be a custom and only curiosity was what it is for? And the answer was in a board hanging on the wall of Monastery. They were cylindrical prayer wheels with a lot of Mantras inside with a life tree and it is another form of purifying from negatives like a prayer is used to be orally as per the Tibetan custom.
The main temple was still few more meters away and it was located at the end of the street it seems. The complex looks huge which houses Dalai Lama along with temple and a museum. Here too spinning wheels were installed along with the walls. The temple consist of a big statue of Budha, the size is worth notable along with few other smaller statues with name never heard in fact. Many monks and few others found to be religiously attending prayers sitting in the hall with a pin drop silence.
The struggles of Tibetan life were reflected in the museum through sculptures and other displays. A small theatre is also available to show documentaries on Tibetans life for those who were interested. Many visitors were also took time to relax in the temple atmosphere on benches and floors out side, was they meditating no idea though.
Though the temple looked different in style and the visit gave another memorable experience by getting a chance to be in this holy place and trying to involve religiously with the Budhist way of spirituality with Buddhist nuns and monks even if for a silent prayer was more than what expected before planning this trip.
On the way back from McLeod Ganj there was another religious structure which attracts many visitors. It’s a church known as “St John’s Church in the Wilderness built in 1852 by then British rulers. This place makes an interesting view as it is situated in a dense pine and deodar forest area. A special mention about this church is that it survived a severe earth quake which destroyed most of the building in this areaalong with loss of many people. But only the spire and bell tower was damaged for church which restored with new construction.
By the time of return after completing one of the main purpose of the trip, what I forget to notice was how beautiful this location might be on the feet of mountains looks like, especially the street seemed to be endsthere with another picturesque location in the lap of glorious Himalayas.