The only gift I can give to my host for a week is a travelogue. A travelogue, yes I am not denying the fact that it is a travelogue but it is much more. It is a sneak peek into the life of ordinary people of Dharamshala. I will show you Dharamshala the way it is. Don’t worry it is free; you just have to sit in your arm chair with a cup of hot cappuccino or espresso with brownie and read along.

First we have to take a train to Delhi and then a bus to Dharamshala or Mcleodganj. Mcleodganj is 10km from Dharamshala with a higher altitude so obviously you’ll get a better view. Check in, in a hotel and then follow me.

Before beginning we have to keep certain points in mind

1. In 1905 there was an earthquake in Dharamshala which measured more that 7 on Richter scale. It completely or partially destroyed all the buildings which then existed. So many buildings got destroyed and had to be rebuilt. Hence may be you won’t get the actual authentic building there.

2. Dharamshala looks like a mini Tibet. In 1950 China annexed Tibet and China. They wanted to put an end to the Tibetan culture and impose Chinese culture in Tibetan people. So when Dalai Lama tried to promote Tibetan culture Tibet threw him .When the Chinese government literally threw Dalai Lama away he took shelter in India. Then he tried to establish Tibetan culture in Dharamshala. He began training his heir The 11th Panchen Lama. However the Chinese kidnapped the child and in turn placed one of their people to pose like Panchen Lama. Hence the friction continues.

Day 1

We will go to places near Mcloedganj. So let us start. Wear you boots for you have to walk a lot. Dal Lake is our first destination. It is a quiet lake with an amazing view. It doesn’t have any historical importance but it doesn’t matter because the view wouldn’t let it matter. We human can never appreciate good things. For in a place where you are going to find crystal clear water and to enjoy the beauty of nature you would end up finding tons of lays and kurkure wrapper scattered all around. But I saw a family pick nicking with a herd of cow or maybe the other way round.

Let us go from the mess to Dharamkot. Dharamkot is a viewpoint and it was almost clean. It is two km from Mcleodganj. You would find many monks. There are many yoga institutes. Who knows you may benefit. The view was awesome and the tea stalls nearby made it more awesome. I met a few monks who seemed to be really friendly. Now faster we don’t have much time, click some pics and run.
Now to my favorite place St. John’s church. It is 8km from Dharamshala. I have forgotten the last time I was in such a quiet and clean place just to feel the nature. It is the place where Lord Elgin, a viceroy of India’s grave lies. It has a heavy Gothic architecture. However I was a bit sad when I came to know that it didn’t function anymore. The thing amused me was that there was a bell which the people tried to steal but since it was heavy they couldn’t and now it was locked.
Then comes the place for which Dharamshala is famous THE DALAI LAMA TEMPLE. The museum had a pictorial representation of the spread of Buddhism in India. I found it quite boring, but you see how you like it. It is like a school to the monks. They study, play, pray and live in the temple. There are several prayer wheels. It is said that by rotating the wheel once we gain equivalent amount off punya that by reciting the prayer once. There was a Buddha temple. Let me tell you the funny thing a man came and donated 50 rupees to Buddha then he quietly took 4 ten rupees note and went away. What I learnt was that Karbyug were the original teachings of Buddha and Tanyug were the revised teaching by other monks.

War Memorial was a tribute to Martyrs who lost their lives in wars. Then to waterfall called Bhagsunag.
Tired, yes I know you are, so it is dinner time. Now if you want Tibetan food, go for Thupka, momo or thenthuk. Thupka and Thenthuk are noodles in soup. In thupka normal spaghetti is used but in Thenthuk penne (flat noodles) is used. If you want to go for American food, go for Musaka, Spaghetti-Bolognes or Steak. I loved Musaka the most as it is filled with Cheeeeeeeseeee. But whatever you want to order you have to write it yourself. There is an amusing thing that the customer has to write their own order in a piece of paper and the waiter will carry it probably because of the strange names of the dishes.

Day 2: Bridgeswari temple was 1200 years old but got destroyed in earthquake and had to be rebuilt.
Kangra fort was built by king Sansar. Akbar tried to capture but couldn’t. Jahangir captured it so you can imagine how old it is but it also became a prey of the 1905 disaster. It is a holy place where a body part of Sati had fallen.
Then comes the Norbulinga institute which has been opened to promote Tibetan culture and had setup like old Tibet. There were sorts of Tibetan handicrafts and the architecture was traditional architecture. We then met a foreigner who clicked our pictures. I also met an old man who was trembling but still wished to walk on his own.

India’s highest international cricket ground is in outskirts of Dharamshala. If I could play cricket I would have made sure that I play my debut match there.
. Cricket Ground. View from our hotel

Last we went to the Kangra museum and saw pictures of the building before earthquake. The dogs follow their master while on a walk without any collar. The restaurants there are very homely and the cooks sing, listen to music while cooking. All sorts of junk jewelry and sorts of stones with amazing handicrafts are available in the shops are available on the roadsides. The hawkers are mostly the old people who keep praying with their prayer wheels. There the dogs have so much of wool due to the cold weather. Every restaurant had save Tibet stickers all around the restaurant. The funniest thing happened in Palsang cafe’ because the waiter forgot what we had ordered and sat down to make a bill as if he had sat for solving a 3 hours paper. There a common type of earring is made of yak’s bone.

My duty ends here and now it is upto you when you want to return from Dharamshala. If I wished I wanted to stay there forever but I had to come back for the sake of my dogs. Go there I bet you won’t want to come back.

Tags: Travelogue

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