Exploring India 2009 โ€“ McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala

Oct 16

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As I moved further north, things began to change. When I arrived at McLeod Ganj, I didn’t feel like I am in India anymore. In fact, I felt like I was in Tibet. The climate, the landscape, the people, the food and the culture are everything Tibet. Why Tibet? OK, here is some brief history lesson:

Because of the unrest in Tibet during 1950s, more than 250,000 Tibetan refugees have made the decision to flee their homeland, on foot over the Himalaya to seek sanctuary in India, led by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who was granted asylum in Dharamsala in 1959 (excerpt taken from Lonely Planet).

The weather in McLeod Ganj was very cold when I was there. It rained few days before I arrived. However, it was a good thing because I heard from the Korean couple whom I met in Amritsar that McLeod Ganj was facing water shortage because lack of rain.

There, I met Sonam, Dawa, her cousins and other volunteers from all over the World. Dawa and Sonam are Tibetan descendants. Like Dawa and Sonam, many Tibetan descendants in Dharamsala were born and raised there. Most never stepped into their homeland before. Even though they are qualified to become Indian citizen, many refuses and choose to remain as refugees. This is to remind them the struggle they are fighting to free Tibet from China. The opportunity to become a volunteer in McLeod Ganj are plenty. For example, Dawa’s cousin is running Tibetan Women’s Association and Sonam is involved in a charity project that helps children of slums around North India. Perhaps this is his way of saying “thank you” to India for allowing the Tibetans in exile to live here. Other than that, there are many places you can volunteer such as at Tibetan Children Village.

I really enjoyed the mountain views, the peaceful valley, the cold weather or simply having tea in cafes chit chatting with my new found friends. Before I know it, I had spent 3 days here; longer than I initially planned. I wish I could stay longer but there are more places waiting for me to discover.

It was indeed a break from a break.

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