culture

Dharamshala – A Manifestation of Tibetan Culture in India

Spiritual Awakenings - Dharamshala.jpg

The charming district of Dharamshala has been a home away from home for Tibetan heritage for decades. Residence to The Dalai Lama, Dharamshala is also the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration, which is the Tibetan Government in exile.

When China invaded Tibet in the 1950s, the Dalai Lama and several other Tibetans had to flee their native land forcefully. At that time, India offered help, and it was in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh where everyone took refuge.

Ever since then the province is a manifestation of Tibetan culture in India. Thanks to the artistic and architectural amalgamation that has taken place over the years, visitors now get to explore Tibetan ethos through museums, temples, and Buddhists monasteries spread across the vicinity.

Exploring Dharamshala is a dream for any traveller. There is a sense of tranquillity in wandering through the narrow streets of the town that highlight the authenticity of the people, residing in complete harmony.

However, the true beauty of Dharamshala lies in its temples and monasteries. While several tourist attractions in the area are an absolute delight to discover, it is the omnipresent spirituality of the place that eventually steals the heart.

Another reason to visit Dharamshala is for its exquisite artefacts and local markets, which are a shopper’s delight. Add to that the scenic magnificence of the surroundings, and Dharamshala is sure to touch every soul that meanders through its land.

Shopping in Dharamshala

The Dalai Lama Temple Complex

McLeod Ganj, also known as Upper Dharamshala, is the official residence of The Dalai Lama. It is one of the most ‘touristy’ towns in the country. To learn more about the history of Tibet and witness its glory, you must visit the Dalai Lama Temple Complex.

Tourists from across the planet visit the heavenly Dalai Lama Temple to seek peace and wellbeing. The temple is known as ‘Tsug La Khang’ and is situated close to the official abode of His Holiness.

The Dalai Lama visits the temple frequently to conduct prayer meets, meditations, and to address disciples. If you are looking to attend any of his sessions, plan your trip according to His dates. His talks are scheduled twice or thrice a year and are open to all, free of cost.

Chanting of prayers, meditation meetings and various religious practices are a constant here. Another major attraction is the chief prayer wheel. The wheel, plated in pure gold, is at the centre of the temple with ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ inscribed on it. Devotees and pilgrims are supposed to walk around the pedestal and rotate the prayer wheel, in the hope of multiplying their merits.

Buddha - Dharamshala

There are also large statues reflecting Tibetan and Buddhist culture dotted across the complex. A statue of Lord Buddha, along with those of Chenrezig and Guru Rinpoche are among the prominent sculptures that are visually appealing.

To take a bit of Dharamshala back home, there are shops nearby that sell books and religious beads, among other things to visitors.

Tsug La Khang is also famous for its stunning architecture. Every nook and corner oozes elegance, with divine vibrations lingering in the air at all times.

Visitors get to see the Namgyal Monastery, and several striking temples and a museum inside the complex. The museum acts as a reflection of Tibetan legacy with an intimate insight into their beliefs.

When planning your trip, start early in the morning to experience the serenity of the complex at its best.

Library of Tibetan Works and Archives

Home to over 80,000 manuscripts and 600 Buddhist artefacts, the library is one of India’s finest institutions. Featuring a museum, this is the best place in the country to study Tibetan history and heritage.

Prayer Flags in Dharamshala

Tibetan Museum, McLeod Ganj

The Tibetan Museum is the official museum of the Central Tibetan Administration. It is a large campus filled with positivity that creates a peaceful and appealing environment.

The museum features spectacular earthenware, handiwork, and historical reports related to Tibet, with emphasis on the struggles of the Tibetan people.

Talks and documentary screenings are a regular occurrence, arranged for people to spread awareness about the local culture. The walls of the museum reflect the beauty of Tibetan engineering and depict colours and designs that are prominent in their religion.

Kangra Art Museum, Kangra

Kangra Art Museum is a must-visit for art lovers as it displays Tibetan and Buddhist artwork with much respect. The museum highlights the region’s rich history and religious beliefs through various works in the form of paintings, books, sculptures, pottery, coin memorabilia and jewellery.

These exquisite and delicate pieces are exceptionally designed and are sure to leave you in awe of their alluring beauty.

For a more immersive experience that takes you further into the depths of Tibetan culture, visit the Kalachakra Temple, Nechung Monastery, and the Guyto Monastery situated nearby.

The Bhagsunag temple and waterfalls that directly makes its way from the Himalayas are just 2 KMs away from the main town. If seeking a bit of an adventure, go on the Triund trek, a picturesque hike perfect even for beginners.

Triund, McLeod Ganj

Not just limited to learning about Tibetan culture, Dharamshala is an idyllic spot for all kinds of travellers. Those seeking a spiritual escape can make the most of the local yoga retreats and meditation centres. Food lovers can relish in the homely flavours of Tibetan momos. Whereas those in search of nirvana can make do with a relaxing time at a traditional Tibetan massage parlour.

Nestled in the lap of majestic snow-capped mountains, Dharamshala is truly the ultimate destination to satiate your wanderlust.

About the Author: Meghana is a travel writer for Ticker Eats The World. She is also the author of Ria’s Diary and loves to explore writing in the genres of lifestyle, womanhood, health and spirituality, for her website and other digital publications. The young lady is a certified yoga teacher who loves to read good books, watch movies and scroll through Instagram in her spare time.

Photo Credit: Photo 1, Photo 2, Photos 3 by the author, Photo 4, and Photo 5.

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