Tashi delek! Here we are - at the bus stand, the heart of McLo (brief for McLeodganj). This really is where you’ll come across yourself when you get to the city.
Roads radiate from here to many factors around the city including again down to Dharamsala.
You’ll obtain Buddhist monks strolling around in their burgundy robes, telling a rosary as they go about their daily business. Within the centre with the bazaar, south on the bus stand will be the Namgyalma Stupa surrounded by golden prayer wheels that are turned by two primary roads - Temple Highway and Jogibara Highway.
¤ A House of Dalai Lama
McLeodganj is greatest recognized because the headquarters of your Tibetan Federal government in Exile and property of your 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. The Tibetan settlement right here is really a delightful instance of their agreeable nature.
The neighborhood has taken around the hospitality enterprise and supply low-cost and clean accommodations and little pleasant eating places.
All this helps make McLeodganj is really a colorful small town, a perennial den of vacationers - a location you may chill out in and do your personal thing. Whilst you quit wondering at a Tibetan trinket or a shawl, you will realize that your belly is involuntarily responding towards the beautiful scent of wantons wafting from a nearby joint.
McLeodganj is steeped in Buddhist culture - you are able to find anything from Tibetan foods, very good luck charms and thangkas to Enlightenment. Actually, lots of disenchanted foreigners arrive here seeking solace, meditation or to champion the Tibetan trigger.
¤ Main Tourist Attrations on the McLeodganj City
As for sightseeing, you will be very agog with the sheer size of the itinerary. Start using the quaint church of St John-in-the-Wilderness, after which heading in excess of to the host of Buddhist web sites just like the Tsuglag Khang, Namgyal Monastery, Dip Se Chok-Ling Gompa, Gangchen Kyishong with its Library & Archives andMedical Institute, TIPA, Mani Lakhang Stupa, Nechung Monastery, Norbulingka Institute, and the Chinmaya Tapovan. If you’re looking for some classes on the Tibetan language or Buddhism, there’re enough options for that. The walks around this place are just too very good to be missed. Whether it’s Naddi or Dharamkot, Bhagsu or Triund, Dal Lake or Kareri Lake, you’ll be nothing less than spellbound.
¤ Take Care Even though that you are In Dharamsala
With heavy tourist traffic, Dharamsala is really cosmopolitan in character. However, a certain decorum needs to be observed although visiting Buddhist shrines.
Walk clockwise about shrines and stupas and on the left-hand side inside monasteries.
Buddhist monasteries are open to all and you could even visit the resident lama. But be sure to be dressed modestly. An audience using the Dalai Lama could be arranged too but one cannot record the event - no cameras, video cameras or sound recorders allowed.
¤ His Holiness - The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. The title does not belong to any person.
As soon since the Dalai Lama dies, his reincarnation is recognized by traditional means and tests.
The Dalai Lama is believed to be a reincarnation in 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.
The first man to bear the title of Dalai Lama was Sonam Gyatso, Grand Lama of the Drepung monastery and leader on the 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 of 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 with the Mongols, but from 1720 to 1911 as vassals of your emperor of China.
¤ Tenzin Gyatso-- The Present Dalai Lama
The present Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, may 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 just 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 about 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 really is him.
¤ Fairs & Festivals Losar
Losar is the Tibetan New Year, the most popular festival of Dharamsala and Buddhist populated places like Lahaul. It’s celebrated with terrific 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 house and hearth.
The Losar Celebrations
A grand feast and ritual dance are held two days before Losar. The dance, signifying destruction of evil spirits, is accompanied by drums and radong (long trumpets).
Originally it used to be performed on the courtyard from the Potala Palace, the primary temple in Lhasa. The chhaam dance on the eve of Losar is a spectacular event with dancers wearing elaborate costumes and masks. Symbolizing good over evil, the dance marks the killing of a cruel Tibetan ruler - Langdarma (9th century).
The 15th day on the fourth month of 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 very 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 such potency that something you do, good or bad, is said to be multiplied a hundred thousand times!
Consequently, people refrain from eating non-vegetarian food, 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) each August-September, this fair is especially favoured by Girths and Gurkhas (hill tribes). There are the usual festivities of feasting and dancing.
¤ Shopping Hubs - The Bazaars
Shopping at McLeodganj Bazaar is terrific fun. It can be a good location to bargain for carpets and handicrafts (metalware, jewellery, jackets, handknitted cardigans and gloves).
Tibetans usually quote a fair price to begin 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'll be able to even watch them being made at the same outlet. You may 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 in the Tara Herbal Gift Shop near the bus stand. At 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 are a storehouse of information in McLeodganj and are also extremely friendly.
¤ Arts & Crafts Carpets
Right here are beautiful carpets of traditional Tibetan designs. They are delicately woven and are a riot of colour. Motifs may well vary from natural scenes to monuments to incidents from a folktale or mandalas (traditional Tibetan designs from the cosmos).
McLeodganj may be the location for great thangkas. These are in fact 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 coloured 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 colours are used.
The Norbulingka Institute may be the centre of learning this ancient art of Tibet. You could also place your orders right here.
Like carpets and thangka painting, woodcarving is also one thing which the Tibetans excel in. It's in Dharamsala that the masters have kept this ancient tradition alive. and the centre for all these activities may be the Norbulingka.
The woodcarvers make traditional and ceremonial carved furniture, like altars of all sizes, elaborate thrones, folding tables, incense burners and so forth. Soon after the carving is done the pieces are either polished or painted in bright colours.
¤ Gastronomic Delights
Even though you’re in McLo, the very best grub to have is, of course, Tibetan chef-d’oeuvre. The aroma wafting from Tibetan foods joints run by the locals is enough to tell you that. Try their wide range of delicious, non-spicy dishes which includes thukpas (soups), noodle dishes (gyathuk, thin noodles; thenthuk, flat noodles), steamed or fried momos (dumplings) and shabakleb (pretty much like flat and round momos).
¤ Eating Joints
However, there’s quite a bit more on offer you. Keeping the taste of both the international and domestic tourist in mind, McLeod has a wide range of eateries that serve all sorts of cuisine - Indian, Tibetan, Italian, Continental, Israeli, to name several.
Friend’s Corner is good for breakfast; Hot Spot for fast meals; Shambala for cakes and pancakes; and the German Bakery on MI Highway for bread and brown rice (open till 0100). Aroma on Jogibara Highway serves outstanding Israeli fare. The log-shaped, shack-like Chocolate Log surprises with its delectable cakes and snacks. Try Tibetan Dasang for exceptional porridge, fruit muesli and whole-wheat bread.
¤ Think Globally, Act locally
The residents of this very small city of McLeodganj are great environment freaks, so don’t ever throw empty bottles and other garbage just anywhere; drop it all inside the green bins. This new project, started by the Welfare office and a young Dutch man, is like a boon for this tourist crammed place. Manned by only a handful of, this profect does some fantastic work.
The four ‘green workers’ inside the scheme collect about 40-50kg of recyclable stuff from across the place each day, like paper, glass, plastic and metals. In fact wherever you stay at McLo, you will come across 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 different materials.