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Sunday, May 26, 2024

DHARMSHALA BUDDHIST TOUR

Dharamsala – “Little Tibet.”
Home of the Dalai Lama and focus of the Tibetan community in exile, Dharamsala is surrounded by forests of chir pine, rhododendron and Himalayan Oak and has breathtaking views over the Kangra Valley and of the snow peaks that overhang the town.

Visit the Tsuglakhang Complex, which contains the residence of HH the Dalai Lama, Namgyal Monastery, and the Tsuglakhang and Kalachakra Temples. In the early mornings you can join Tibetans circumambulating the

Dalai Lamas residence on the Holy walk (or Kora) and in the afternoons watch monks debating in front of the main temple. Deepen your understanding of Tibetan art and culture through visiting the monasteries, museums and institutions connected with this unique and spiritual culture.

You can attend classes on Tibetan Buddhism and koora live Meditation at the Tibetan Library or at the Tushita Institute, and every spring HH the Dalai Lama gives 10 days of special teachings in the main temple.

His Holiness also leads the prayers in the temple on special occasions – 10 days for Monlam Chenmo following Losar, Saga Dawa (May), and his own birthday (6 July.) It is also possible to join a public audience him at certain times.

Stay at Kashmir Cottage, a beautiful period guest house run by His Holiness’s brother and sister-in-law, or at Chonor House, a quiet and beautiful place decorated in traditional Tibetan style and popular with diplomats, foreign journalists and Richard Gere! (Book well in advance to be sure of accommodation in ether of these very popular guesthouses.

Gyuto Monastery
home of HH the Karmapa. At Sidhbari, 40 minute’s drive from Dharamsala, is Gyuto Monastery where HH the Karmapa, head of the Karma Kargyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, resides in exile. It is possible to attend a public teaching and blessing with His Holiness twice a week. Visit the nearby Norbulingka Institute for the preservation of Tibetan Arts and Crafts and the Dolma Ling nunnery.

Jangchub Jong Buddhist Institute.
Still under construction Jangchub Jong is situated in a magnificent and peaceful forest location, with a backdrop of spectacular snow mountains, near the tea gardens of Palampur. Founded by and home to HE Dorzong Rinpoche of the Drukpa Kargyu lineage, the temple is being stunningly decorated under the direction of the gifted artist Ven Dru gu Choegyal Rinpoche, and the site contains a particularly large and beautiful stupa.

Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery.
This newly completed Drukpa Kargyu nunnery is presided over by the very remarkable Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a British Tibetan Buddhist nun who spent 12 years meditating alone in a cave in Lahaul. (See “A Cave in the Snow” by Vickie Mackenzie.) The surrounding area of small farms and villages is ideal for easy day walks.

Tashi Jong.
Tashi Jong Drukpa Kargyu Tibetan community nestles in an idyllic location in the foothills of the Dhauladar Range. Terraced paddy fields and pretty villages in a landscape of gentle unspoiled beauty surround it. Headed by HE Khamtrul Rinpoche Tashi Jong is famous for its elite group of Togden Yogis, its marvellous annual Cham (monastic dances) held for 5 days in the spring, and as an arts and crafts community of carpet weavers, wood carvers and thangka painters. Stay at the extra ordinary

Taragarh Palace Hotel,
summer home of the son of the last maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, and revel in the tiger skins, colonial furnishings and grand family portraits before taking tea on the terrace or spending time walking, horse riding or swimming.

Sherab Ling.
In a jungle location near to Baijnath lies Sherab Ling, the impressive seat in exile of HE Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of the major figures of the Karma Kargyu lineage. Buddhist ceremonies and teachings open to the public are conducted here throughout the year and the temple complex is worth visiting for its splendid decorations.

Bir and the Deer Park Institute.
Nearby is Bir, a Tibetan exile community containing several monasteries set amidst tea gardens and with a backdrop of Snow Mountains. The newly established Deer Park Institute, an initiative of the polymath Sakyapa

Lama HE Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, runs a continuous programme of teachings and courses on different aspects of Buddhism aimed at lay Buddhist practitioners of all persuasions. Teachings on the Heart Sutra, a Zen retreat, lectures on Tibetan medicine and an annual Art retreat are some of the recent fare that have been on offer at this friendly Institute.

Ahsan Khan
Ahsan Khan
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