Dharamshala - A Magnificent Hill Resort and Paradise for Tibetan Refugees
Views of Snow Peaks from Upper Dharamshala
Dharamshala a Unique Destination for tourists
Dharamshala (also spelled as Dharamsala) in Himachal Pradesh in India is a magnificent hill station for enjoying peace, serenity and natural beauty of Himalayas. Many consider it as a mini Lhasa in view of a large number of Tibetan refugees staying there along with their spiritual guru, His Holiness, Dalai Lama. A hill resort with temples, churches and monasteries makes it a unique place of human tolerance and religious harmony.
On reaching upper Dharamshala one experiences a unique sensation. The views of snow clad mountains are gorgeous and it seems there is an endless chain. Away from the hustle and bustle of big cities in plains one gets lost and adores nature.
Dharamshala has the world's highest cricket international stadium and it had another feather in its cap when Indian Premier League (IPL) played two important matches last year.
Unique Location of Dharamshala
Dharamshala is a small city and headquarter of Kangra district of the hilly Himachal Pradesh in India. It is divided into two - Lower Dharamshala at a height of about 1,380 m (about 4,500 ft) and Upper Dharamshala at 1,830 m (about 6,000 ft). The difference of about 1,500 ft between the Lower and the Upper parts of Dharamshala makes this hill resort quite picturesque and there is perceptible temperature change as well. The Upper Dharamshala also has two suburbs - McLeodganj and Forsytheganj, both forming important destinations of a tourist's itinerary.
Dharamshala is one of the wettest place in the State and has dense pine and deodar trees making it quite green.This greenery clubbed with snow clad Dhauldhar mountains almost on three sides of it, make it a perfect destination for the tourists all the year round.
Views from the Top
When one looks down from the top there is a realisation of distance one has covered leaving behind the plains. Depending upon the weather the views of plains look equally charming specially at night.
While travelling from the Lower to the Upper parts of Dharamshala one experiences the vastness of the mountains and the human quest to reach out.
At a distance of about 2 kms from McLeodganj there is a village called Bhagsu. It has two attractions, an old temple built around the year 1800 and a natural waterful which adds charm to this spot. The span of the Fall increases during monsoon.
St. John's Church in the Wilderness
Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin
St. John's Church in the Wilderness has a beautifully designed building about 8 kms away from Dharamshala. The Church was built in 1852 in neo-Gothic architecture and has stained glass windows. There are tall Deodar trees surrounding the Church, which remain struck to the memories after visiting this unusually calm place.
Nearby there is a memorial for Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy to India, who died here in 1863.
In spite of the worst earthquake in 1905 not much of damage was done to the building of the Church and its surroundings.
Interior photograph of Naam Art Gallery
Naam Art Gallery
This famous Gallery is located on the Chamunda Road at Sidhbari in Dharamshala. The Gallery exhibits water colours and acrylics paintings by Elsbeth Buschmann, a renowned German painter. The Gallery also has oil paintings by the British painter, Alfred Hallett, who stayed at Dharamshala for over 4 decades and whose works mainly depict culture and landscapes of Himachal Pradesh. It is a permanent exhibition as a tribute to Hallett and worth visiting.
"The Tibetan Connection"
The 14th Dalai Lama, during a visit to Vienna, Austria.
The 14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, was born and brought up in Tibet. After China's invasion of Tibet in 1949, His Holiness assumed full political powers and subsequently shifted to India in 1959 to run administration in exile from Dharamshala.
His Holiness has democratised his administration for the Tibetan community in India and has raised the Tibet issue with the United Nations. In spite of three resolutions passed in the United Nations no permanent solution is forthcoming.
His efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Tibetan problem has been recognised by the world community.
His Holiness, Dalai Lama's recognitions
*1989 - Nobel Peace Prize for non-violent struggle for freedom of Tibet
*Recipient of more than 84 awards, prizes, honorary doctorates etc.
*Author of more than 72 books.
Tibetan Stupas below the Tsuglag Khang Temple in McLeod Ganj
Stupas below the Tsuglag Khang Temple at McLeodganj present a splendid view. The snow-clad mountains in the background make it a unique place for worshiping. Namgyal Monastery attracts tourists due to multitude of religious activities and cultural presence of Tibetans. The surroundings remind the tourists of Lhasa.
Lighting of Lamps
Lighting of lamps assumes significance while performing rituals and celebrations in many religions. Buddhists often use brass lamps which are usually small in size and filled with yak butter or vegetable oil. It is believed that the light from these lamps removes darkness and is helpful in mental focus and meditation.
It is believed that Padmasambhava, a great Indian Buddhist teacher of eighteenth century brought Prayer Wheels to Tibet. We find many Buddhists spinning these Wheels clockwise either as a hand held Wheel or a lineage of Wheels in most of their Monasteries. A hymn 'Om Mani Padme Hum' is recited while spinning the Wheels. They say that by doing so the Buddhists adopt a quick way of developing compassion and wisdom. Many tourists also enjoy the experience of spinning these Wheels during their visits to Buddhist Monastery at Dharamshala.
Worshiping is a very sacred affair in the Buddhists temples. There is chanting of verses (mantras) by the monks lined up in a disciplined way. Some monks are very young. Suddenly there is a high pitch sound of gongs and shells. It is, indeed, a pleasure to see the rituals which are performed in perfect harmony. Their worship places are very neat and clean.
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives
Every Tibetan building is charming. The Library and Archives building is quite colourful and has magnificent looks.
Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in McLeod Ganj
Masks are quite common in Tibetan culture. Many of their dances are performed with masks on. The Institute of Performing Arts has a beautiful collections of such art pieces.
Tibetan Children's Village, McLeod Ganj
Located nearly 4 kms northwest at Mall Road at McLeodganj, the Tibetan Children's Village imparts free education to nearly 2000 Tibetan refugee children. It is a very serene location with Dal Lake nearby. Volunteers also come to this village to teach children.
A Tourist at Dharamshala
In view of difficult hilly tracks having frequent ups and downs, sometimes very steep, Tibetan are used to carry heavy weight on their backs. They also carry their small children on their backs. However, cultures differences can be seen. Here is a tourist who has improvised her way of carrying the little one. May be feeling more secure for the baby this way. See, the baby also does not seem to facing any inconvenience. The mother is also free from stress and not worried about safety of her baby.