The Must See Beautiful City Of Dharamshala
What made our travel to Dharamsala interesting was the fact that my husband is so interested to learn so much about the Tibetan Culture. He kept insisting we go visit this iconic region after our tour of Calcutta. His curiosity brushed off on me as it did not take long for me to be convinced. So there we were, travelling on a rented van and traversing the long highway to get to Dharamsala. It was a holiday that turned out to be unforgettable as I found myself getting interested too about this amazing culture. The sense of peace and calm truly enveloped me when we got to the famous Tibetan Temple. The place of inspiration has made a big impression on me, and I treasure that experience for as long as I live.
The bright weather in February was the perfect time to visit the Aryan Yoga and Reiki Center. It is a huge center that offers yoga and reiki classes with very caring and professional instructors. I had the honor of being taught by Aryan about the various postures to keep me balanced and focus. His approach is factual, informative and truly personable. They have very good mattresses, private showers and clean toilets. With sunsets to admire and the Himalayan Mountains as the view, it was simply breathtaking! The peaceful setting was the real treat I got from this place, a unique place and a great experience. Then we head to the Norbulingka Institute where we saw an old tree called the Pipli. I got amused by its huge size and age; the Tibetans believe this tree that guards over their training center is sacred. The walk along the wide garden is so refreshing on this center that is located in a quiet mountain. Inside we saw the monks studying and training at the vocational institute, embroidery school, and sewing and woodworking facilities. The open restaurants and cafes offer local Tibetan food. We bought their finished handicrafts at the small souvenir shop we found within its premises.
When we reached the place of inspiration, I saw a place that is impossible to contain in words. The Dalai Lama Temple is completely devoid of grandness and opulence. The small concrete complex focused more on primal modesty and simplicity. The temple paintings were very beautiful same as the holy manuscripts on display but, what amazed me more was seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama and listen to his teachings while inside the sacred place. It was a humbling experience as we both meditated after receiving his blessing. I fully understand my husband now. I felt bliss, calm, and peace that I have never experienced anywhere else. The monks themselves always looked happy and warmly received us in every corner we visited. From here we checked out the adjacent place where he resides, the Tsuglag Khang which means “main temple” in English. It is a must to visit this place and not miss the various activities the monks busy themselves with. Their chanting rules the air and adds mystique and charm to this attraction. The drumming and the colorful flags, the shops that sell good tasting momos in front and the steep hill trek to see all this beauty was worth it.
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The next day on a fine weather, we head out to explore the scenic landscapes of Kangra Valley. The long and tedious climb through the mountains was tolerable as the cold weather that surrounds us gave a mix of relaxed and enthusiastic energy to keep going on. Our greatest reward was a good view of the temple and the surrounding cities from the valley. The views were more beautiful than the ones we saw on postcards being sold along the way. The long stretch of the valley covers six other states in India. Along the way we saw little cafes where we stop for tea and sandwiches. The main square is filled with busy tourists and locals who seem to enjoy the view just like us and the Indian cuisine offered by the restaurants on this area. We passed by an old structure and saw the interesting ruins inside the Kangra Fort. The old walls are mute witness to its colorful past. We took lots of pictures all around here and captured every detail on every attraction we visited. Anywhere we go around this valley the people were very warm and friendly. On our way back we check out what awaits us inside the majestic Jawalamukhi Devi Temple. The temple is famous for its eternal flame on its side towers that does not require the use of any fuel. It is so clean and well maintained plus the admission is free.
After getting so engrossed of the attractions we saw in the valley we passed by the Gyuto Monastery. We almost missed seeing this monastery because it was obstructed by its nearby shops and buildings. The serene temple is framed by the beautiful mountains on its backdrop. The smiling monks makes me feel at home and by this time I am already getting used to the low chants they make (it sounds haunting at times!) and their orange ensemble. It is another interesting monastery to have a better appreciation of Buddhism. About a kilometer away from the town we head out next to see the Aghanjar Mahadev Temple. Behind the lush green forest we found the temple by the river that houses the icons of Shiva and his creations. The peaceful place is what awaits eager visitors and locals after trekking into 50 steps of stairs from the river and passing through a cave that is situated right next to a waterfall. When we reached the place I sat down with my husband and just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Some choose to have picnic on it grounds while others line up to take pictures of the Shiva. I love this place.
Visiting the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives was an enriching experience for those who cherish Tibetan culture and its modest goals. We saw lots of old sculptures and images that played an important part in the growth and success of this culture. We made friends with some Tibetan people while we were inside the library that helped explain to us the significance of preserving and maintaining this important place. We felt that instant connection in ourselves when we got educated by necessary information about Tibet. It is like rediscovering so many things about the people that were not told on history books, it is just frustrating that we were not allowed to take pictures of the interesting pieces we saw inside. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed my Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Language lessons. My husband and I went along with other group of tourists who try to learn slowly and carefully the Tibetan Alphabet. They have a good interpreter and he translated the monks’ preaching to sample my knowledge of their language, it was fun! Just a stone’s throw away we found the Tibetan Medical Institute, it is a museum explaining the works involved in improving Tibetan medicine. Their medicines can not be confused with the well known Chinese medicines though. The resident pharmacist and caretaker said the formulations may not be known but it has been proven effective among Tibetans.
We went home exhausted after our long journey in Dharamsala but our souls were thoroughly enriched by the things we saw and experienced. I have learned so many new things from our tour of India. I will not hesitate to go back and visit again to find my sense of peace and calm. Namaste’!
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