Visiting Dharamshala, the Abode of the Dalai Lama in Himachal Pradesh
In 1959 the present Dalai Lama fearing arrest by the Chinese police in Lhasa escaped from his palace and headed for India. He crossed the Tibetan plateau and entered India in the North East Frontier Agency (Now called Arunachal Pradesh). He headed for the monastery town of Twang and signaled to the Indian leadership for political asylum.
The matter was considered by Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian cabinet and India granted political asylum to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama and his advisors chose Dharamshala a quiet mountain town nestled in the Himalayas as their center for the Tibet Government in exile. Perhaps the Dalai Lama chose Dharamshala as it was the closest to his dream of Tibet.
This hill station is 17 km north –east of the town of Kangra and is located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Dharamshala is quaint hill station with an excellent cricket ground. The Indian Premier League cricket matches are scheduled here. This place is often referred to as the ‘little Lhasa’ in India.
View of Dharamshala
Dharamshala is easily accessible by air, rail and road .
a) Air. The nearest airport is at Gaggal which is 14 km from the town
b) Rail. The nearest rail head is Pathankot which is connected by rail to all principle towns of India like Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta. Pathankot is 94 km from Dharamshala
c) Road. Direct luxury coach service is available from the Indian capital Delhi which is 520 km away. Buses also connect Dharamshala to other important places.
The soul of Dharamshala is the Dalai Lama. He resides at Mcleodganj close to Dharamshala. The Dalai Lama used to lead an open life till he received reports from inside Tibet that suggested that the Chinese had specially trained some Tibetan women who had been assigned the task of killing the Dalai Lama by poisoning him. After this threat the entry to the residence of the Dalai Lama is greatly restricted. The practice of presenting scarf’s to him has been stopped and now only his secretary receives the scarfs on behalf of the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is heavily guarded by a 2 tier ring of security consisting of the Himachal Pradesh police and the personal body guards of the Dalai Lama.
Residence of the Dalai Lama
The main attraction of Dharamshala is the Tibet temple complex. This is located on Temple road close to the Dalai Lama’s residence. The temple complex has 3 images in the inner sanctum sanctorum. These are the images of Shakyamuni Buddha, Padmasambhava, the Indian Yogi who introduced Buddhism in Tibet and Avalokitesvara who is considered the earlier incarnate of the Dalai Lama.
In addition to the main temple there is the Kala Chakra temple and the Namgyal Monastery. The Kala Chakra temple has over 722 frescos of deities and Buddhist gods. The Namgyal monastery is the repository of Lama hood and lamas are trained here. There is also a small café the Namgyal café that serves exotic cakes and vegetarian dishes.
Visiting Dharamshala is great pleasure. One can stay at the Snow Crest Inn, at Naddi. It is a beautiful and tranquil place and one can relish the beauty of the Himalayas and spend time imbibing Tibet culture.