A Land Away From India – McLeod Ganj
Almost everyone who wishes to travel dreams of visiting foreign lands and explore the diversity that various civilisations have to offer. Although not many are able to fulfil this desire, what if we told you it is possible if you travel to the town of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh and head for McLeod Ganj, the abode of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. The beauty that nature has to offer is abundant across Himachal Pradesh. So, what is it that makes Dharamshala so special? What is it that makes McLeod Ganj an experience like none other?
1. En Route to McLeod Ganj
You feel the energy circulating in the area as you move on the road towards McLeod Ganj passing through Forsyth Ganj and its church of St. John in the Wilderness. When the sun rays fall on this road that leads to McLeod Ganj, lined by the beautiful Deodar forests, the feeling of being a part of that scene makes you believe that heaven can be found on earth. Your first stop on the way, the ancient church of St. John in the Wilderness, with its Neo-Gothic architecture and memorial to the British Viceroy, Lord Elgin, is the first picturesque mark that disconnects you from India.
2. The Monasteries
Religion offers peace to many, and so, religious places hold a certain divine charm wherever they are. But there is something unique to the monasteries of McLeod Ganj. The first and most simple explanation for this seraphic atmosphere so distinctive and indigenous is that His Holiness graces this place with his presence. But once you have explored these monasteries with a perspective deeper than that of an average onlooker, one realizes that its every being, natural and otherwise, honed by the faith of those who stay and visit every day, contributes to the charm of the place, especially, the Tsuglag Khang, the Dalai Lama’s temple
3. Tibetan Culture
The most intriguing feature of any tourist destination is the culture it has to offer, and McLeod Ganj tops that field of tourism giving the tourist an exclusive and authentic tour of the Tibetan culture. While the streets would be mostly lined with tourists from almost all parts of the world, you can’t miss the women wearing chubas, adding a distinct charm to their presence. The mouth-watering smell of thukpa makes you stop in your track so that you can find a place to gulp down a bowl of this Tibetan delicacy. The streets are lined with stores that sell rugs, paintings, etc. all depicting the deeply religious Tibetan art.
4. Museum and Libraries
After exploring this suburb for a few hours, the human mind can’t help but ask for knowledge about this fascinating culture that we have been lucky to be exposed to. To sate your curiosity, you can visit the Tibet Museum, which through photos, videos and English-language display panels narrate the story of Tibetan history, including the Chinese occupation, Tibet’s ongoing struggle for freedom, and the life and work of the 14th Dalai Lama. There’s also the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, that has over 1,20,000 manuscripts and books in Tibetan, among which are those sacred manuscripts that were saved from the cultural revolution. For those who can’t read Tibetan, there is an adjoining museum dedicated to the Tibetan culture.
Don’t worry for you won’t find yourself in a place that you don’t know the first thing about. McLeod Ganj has something for everyone, for amongst the Tibetan and Indian Restaurants you’ll find places that offer Italian and Israeli delicacies. Interaction with tourists from around the world is another experience that adds to your foreign culture exploration. By attending TEDx Dharamshala, you won’t just take back ideas and inspiration, the event is being held at a place that has so much more to offer to those willing to explore.