Are you Interested in Dharamsala Volunteering Work?

Dharamsala or Dharamshala is a small town where the Central Tibetan Administration Headquarters is situated. It is situated in Himachal Pradesh state, India.


McLeod Ganj and the snowy peaks near Dharamsala

McLeod Ganj town, Central Tibetan Administration Headquarters and Hill station in Dharamsala – Image Courtesy : Wikimedia

Dharamsala is beautiful hill station at an average altitude of 1,457 meters  or 4780 feet above sea level, with snow-capped Himalayas as the backdrop. It is is at a distance of 18 kilometers from Kangra, the district head quarters.

History About Central Tibetan Administration

Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, established Dharamshala as his residence and the headquarters of the ‘Central Tibetan Administration’, the Tibetan government in Exile, after his exile from Tibet, following the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The headquarters was initially at Mussoorie and was shifted to Dharamsala in 1960. The 14th Dalai Lama and thousands and thousands of his Tibetan Buddhist followers in exile were allowed to establish their base in Dharamsala by India. To teach their children about teachings of Buddha and to impart them with their Language, culture, religion, history, etc, his holiness the Dalai Lama established schools in the region. HH Dalai Lama (HH denotes His Holiness) also helped those in exile in agricultural settlement.

Central Tibetan Administration in McLeodGanj is situated just above Dharamsala town. McLeod Ganj is the most famous tourist destination at Dharamsala. It is also known as “Little Lhasa“. Lhasa is the administrative capital of Tibet.

Other than the schools on Buddhist teachings, they also undertake development projects for the welfare of Tibetan’s health, cultural and economic development. Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts was established in the year 1959 and Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies was established as the primary university for Tibetan higher education in India. Many of the monasteries and nunneries were re-founded by the Dalai Lama.

Places to visit in Dharamshala

Dalali Lama’s Residence inside Tsuglagkhang Complex at McLeod Ganj

Tsuglagkhang Complex contains the residence of  the 14th Dalai Lama and a Tibetan Museum.

There is a massive statue of Lord Buddha inside the complex, along with other statues.

Kora is the act of walking around the Tsuglagkhang  complex in clock-wise direction. It offers splendid view of the temple.

The complex is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Namgyal Gompa alias Dalai Lama’s Temple (Dalai Lama’s residence)

Namgyal Gompa alias Dalai Lama’s Temple is the official residence (Photang) of the His Holiness Dalai Lama.

Anybody can go inside Namgyal Gompa (monastery), irrespective of religion. Only condition is you need to keep silence. This monastery is the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama. It is also known as Namgyal Tantric College.

If you are lucky, you may come across Dalai Lama, during public teachings. Its free of cost. If you want to listen to the Teachings of Dalai Lama in person, you need to  register months in advance. He teachings here are in Tibetan language.

In May 2011, Dalai lama his holiness has retired from political responsibilities. These responsibilities were transferred to the Central Tibetan Administration.

You can see the some of the monks debating in groups, normally in the afternoons. There are around 200 monks at this gompa.

There are a lot of prayer bells (in the shape of barrels) all around this Buddhist temple or gompa . You need to turn it clockwise, to get the effect of reciting that prayer. Don’t stop prayer, when the wheel is turning.

Tibetan Museum

There is also a Tibetan museum inside Tsuglagkhang complex.

The Tibetan museum shows photos and videos of Chinese invasion of Tibet. At 3 p.m, there is a documentary. This Museum is closed on Mondays.

Dal Lake Near McLeod Ganj

Dal Lake near McLeod Ganj is considered as a sacred lake by many. It is believed that bathing in this lake washes one of his or her sins.Hence it is known as Poor man’s Kailash. (Pilgrims of several religions in India believe that going to Mount Kailash on foot will bring good fortune.)

View Point

View point is at around two or three kilometers from the above mentioned Dal lake.

St. John in the Wilderness Church

St. John in the Wilderness Church or St. John Church, is one of the oldest churches, on the way to McLeod Ganj. It was built in 1852. It is a CNI (Church of North India) church.

The massive Kangra earthquake of 1905 destroyed the church bell tower. (This earthquake killed an estimated 19,800 people.) A new bell was cast in 1915 , which was brought from England and was installed outside the church.

Graveyard of Lord Elgin, who served as the Governor-General & Viceroy of India, can be seen here.

Dharamsala Cricket Stadium

Dharamsala Cricket Stadium is the world’s top most high altitude cricket stadium.

Kangra Fort

Kangra Fort is believed to be the oldest dated fort in India. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas, for sure. It is at around 20 kilometers from Dharamsala, at Kangra. It is on the outskirts of Dharamsala.

Dharamsala Volunteering Work

Opportunities for volunteering work among Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala is available. Lha Charitable Trust is the pioneers in this field, working among the Tibetan refugees at Dharamsala, from 1997 on-wards. Skilled and unskilled individuals can work here as a volunteer, directly with Lha Charitable Trust.

How Do I Go To Central Tibetan Administration HQ and Hill Station Town of Dharamsala?

There are frequent night buses from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, etc, to Dharamsala.

Dharamsala-Kangra Airport at Gaggal (IOTA code is DHM) serves as the link between Dharamsala and the rest of the world for air travelers The airport is also called Gaggal Airport.

The nearest rail head on the broad gauge railway network (and nearest major rail-head) of Indian railways is Pathankot.  The nearest rail head is ‘Chamunda Marg’, on a narrow gauge railway line, in Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh state.

How Do I Go To Dharamsala from Delhi?

Manju Ka Tila, a Tibtan colony in Delhi, is one of the starting point of buses to Dharamsala. There are many Air conditioned Volvo buses from here.

Bedi Travels is one of the top rated buses to Dharamsala from Delhi. They also operate buses to other places in Himachal Pradesh.

The Divine Hima, a Botique luxary Hotel

The Divine Hima is a luxury boutique hotel with a cafe and an art gallery at Dharamshala. They have some of the best wines, too. The room tariff for 3 nights and 4 days (package), on a twin sharing basis, is Rs 59000. The Divine Hima is situated a little away the town. But is worth the salt.

Note: This article on Dharamsala appeared originally in the website touristinindia (only title differs).

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Silent Valley National Park

Silent Valley National Park,  the core of Nilgiri Biosphere reserves, is a unique tropical rain forest which is closed on all sides by continuous and high and ridges and steep cliffs, lying in  Palakkad and Malappuram districts of Kerala state.

Kunthi river and its tributaries  is the lifeline of Silent Valley National Park which starts from the Nilgiri mountains at a height of around 2000 meters and flows through the Silent Valley Park.

Silent

Lion Tailed Macaques with its baby in Silent Valley National Park.
Photo taken from Wikipedia / Wikimedia.

Silent Valley National Park is very rich in flora and fauna. There are more than 1000 flowering plant species alone in the Silent Valley National Park, most of which are endemic to the Western Ghat’s, a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are 34 species of mammals, 292  bird species, 31 reptile species, 22 amphibians species, 13 species of fishes.  Butterflies and moths species number around 500! Silent Valley National Park is famous for the Lion Tailed Macaques.

How do I go to Silent Valley National Park? What about accommodation in the Park?

Palakkad railway station is the nearest one at around 55 km distance and Coimbatore at 90 km distance.

By road, you need to go via Mannarkad and Mukkali, if you are travelling from Palakkad. Or Via Anakkatty, if you are coming from Coimbatore.

Kerala forest and Wildlife department has a Inspection Bungalow with 4 two bed-rooms, one large room with 7 beds for group travelers and a hut which need to be booked in advance.

Tour Taj mahal

Touristinindia tour taj mahal Kerala tourist places Goa

A view of Kovalam Beach in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tour taj mahal, and see the beauty of one of the seven wonders of the world. TajMahal is the ultimate physical sign  of love on earth. You need to see this marvelous white mausoleum to admire the beauty of this masterpiece.

Kerala and Goa are two most important states which attracts millions of tourists every year; Other than Utter Pradesh where Taj Mahal is situated.

India is a vast country and a very populous one with diverse culture , heritage and religion. There are many different languages in India. More than a  dozen official languages are there! Around 30 states and a few Union territories are there in India. Many many religious and regional festivals make this country a unique one.  It is a country with “Unity in Diversity”. The tag line of Indian tourism sector says “Incredible India”!

I will write about places of interest, mainly tourist places in India, later on in my following posts.