Seeing the Dalai Lama

We awoke to brilliant sunshine and joined the throngs of people migrating their way towards the Tsuglagkhang Temple Complex where the Dalai Lama was due to speak. People were pretty excited as they made their way down the hills and we certainly were too. We weren’t the first to arrive by any stretch of the imagination but we were early enough to get some pretty good seats.

The Dalai Lama himself was speaking from a central enclosed room and the crowds were sat outside on two floors. He was going to be broadcast on screens and over speakers which were spread out around the complex. While he was going to speak in Tibetan there were signs up everywhere indicating that he would be broadcast simultaneously in a variety of other languages. We sat patiently waiting for the Dalai Lama and our radios to be handed out in order to hear the English translation.

Unfortunately the radios didn’t appear you apparently had to bring your own and the crowd was getting fuller and fuller so we decided to wait and just see what happened. He arrived about 45 mins early and we were lucky enough to be about 5 foot away from him as he walked passed. He somehow exuded an air of calm and tranquility. He sat in his room and was miked up and started speaking, the first thing we noticed was what a wonderful laugh he had. He chatted for a while then began leading the chanting and his voice resonated wonderfully around the complex.

We couldn’t understand what was going on so decided to go off in search of a radio. I have to say I am a little disappointed in the ingenuity of the Tibetans as while the streets were lined with shops selling so much crap there wasn’t a shop seller for miles who was smart enough to be renting out radios. We found our man at the top of town and hurried back to the complex radio in hand.

By the time we got back the place was packed so we sat in the sunshine and tuned in to the wise words of the Dalai Lama. The translator had not been given a copy of the speech so was having to translate as he went along. I am sure we missed vast swathes of what was said but we heard enough to make us happy and content. While it was a bit of a fiasco overall it was quite a moving experience to get to hear such a man speak and we left the complex feeling happy.

The sun was shining and it was perfect weather for hiking so we set off up the steep hill through McLeod Gang and Dharamkot into a pine forest. As we got away from the hustle and bustle of the town we felt wonderful as we breathed in the cool fresh air and enjoyed some quiet time just walking and enjoying the scenery. We picked a trek which was going to take us to a waterfall and wasn’t going to involve too much going up and down.

The walk was beautiful, offering views down the valley back towards McLeod Ganj and when we got to the end we scrambled up the side of the waterfall and found a lovely place to sit and rest a while. We were debating going for a swim but when we dipped our feet into the water they went numb from cold within seconds! So a dip of the feet and a wetting of the caps was enough.

We haven’t been doing much hiking at all in India so by the time we got back to the hotel we were both a little sore and in need of a rest. Still we were happy to be back in the mountains and finally enjoying the foothills of the Himalayas. T

The first part of the walk where we climbed up through this beautiful pine forest.

The view down over the upper parts of McLeod Ganj down towards Dharamsala.

The view the other way toward the snow capped upper mountains of the Himalayas.

It was a beautiful walk along the side of the valley.

Just wonderful to see the clear blue waters of the waterfall.  How clean!

A small shop set up beside the waterfall complete with dog and monk!

Great spot for a rest.

While it looked inviting…it was Baltic!

Now that’s a view from the table for lunch.

The town of McLeod Ganj wrapping itself around the tops of the hills.

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