Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama

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Dharamshala was on my list to be explored in bright, sunny daylight with a blue sky and floating clouds. Today we were going to Nechung Monastery, Namgyal Stupa & Norbulingka Institute. But I was a little upset at missing the Kangra museum, being Monday it was closed. It’s a home for art of lovers and history buffs. The museum is in a pleasant location and is dedicated to the brilliant marvels of Tibetan and Buddhist artwork and their rich history. It also owns a significant collection that embodies rare coin memorabilia, paintings, sculptures, pottery, precious collectables, and jewellery—beautifully reflecting the essence of tribal culture in the exquisite pieces of miniature portraits. I suggest you visit the museum.


We took off with the Namgyal Stupa, located at Uparli Barol. It’s an ancient Stupa built in memory of the Tibetan soldiers who struggled for the freedom of Tibet. It’s a dome-shared Stupa whose design has similarity to the Stupa built during the 3rd century BC by King Ashoka. The Stupa contains the corpse of the Buddha; hence it’s sacred & place of worship for Tibetian. The Stupa is carved from sandstone and surrounded by several prayer wheels. It is conceived that the visiting of Namgyalma Stupa cleanses any bad karma in the soul. And anything that settles on the Namgyalma Stupa gets purified. Considerably, I desire my soul to be clarified while I circled the Stupa rotating the wheels and reciting prayers. This place left me more peaceful and content than when you came in.

Namgyal Stupa

Later I went to the Norbulingka Institute, an educational and training institute founded in 1988 to preserve Tibetan literature, culture, and art. Dalai Lama established it and named it after Norbulingka, the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas in Lhasa, Tibet. The Institute provides training, education and employment to Tibetans in the area. In 1977 The Academy of Tibetan Culture was established, offering a full-time three-year course in traditional Tibetan studies, world history, Chinese, and English in Dharamshala.

Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama
Norbulingka Instiute Entrance

It has been constructed in the classic Tibetan style and is located amidst gardens and ponds. The prime attraction is 1000 or more murals of Buddha. Along with frescoes of all the Dalai Lamas. And drawings from life are in the form of the 14th Dalai Lama. While the Losel Doll Museum exhibits traditional Tibetan scenes using miniature Tibetan dolls in traditional costumes.

Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama
Doll Museum

The Main Institute is the Academy of Tibetan Culture, the Literary and Cultural Research Centre, and the Arts Centre. One can also enrol on short-term workshops here if interested in studying the Tibetan arts.

Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama
The Academy

In that location is a Seat of Happiness Temple set amidst the Japanese-inspired Norbulingka gardens in the Institute. I am part of a Japanese movie; the Institue’s backdrop is picturesque.

Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama
Seat of Happiness

Post wandering in the beautiful Institute; we went ahead for lunch. We chose the Lung Ta – a vegetarian Japanese Restaurant. The ambience was neat with wooden decoration & food was mouth-watering despite being veg.

Lung-Ta Janapense Resturant

Our next destination was Nechung Monastery, situated just below the Tibetan Library in Gangchen Kyishong, a part of the Tsuglagkhang Complex. The tranquil open monastery can transform a person’s spirit to beat with love & compassion and the mind longing for peace & serenity. Nechung Monastery is believed to be the state Oracle seat and protector-deity of His Holiness Dalai Lama. It has acted as a spiritual guide to the Tibetans- its physical medium is called Nechung Kuten.

Nechung Monastery

During the revolution in 1959, the Nechung Monastery in Lhasa was razed to the earth. However, six monks escaped to India, and the Tibetan Government in exile granted a modest piece of land to the Nechung monastery. It holds a library, monk’s residence & school. The solemn ambience at the monastery forced me to sit on the bench in a spell.


My mom shook me to my senses and asked, let’s go inside the Tsuglagkhang Complex. It is the private abode of the present Dalai Lama. It’s a position of significance as it’s narrated the life and sacrifices of the Tibetans. The culture they carry & velour with which they struggled their existence—the complex smell of purity & humility, which will calm any soul. My eye caught the 3m tall bronze Shakyamuni Buddha, brightening up the complex.


The Namgyal Gompa is a place where monks debate. Upon entering, I was greeted by a buoyant atmosphere. The monks were animatedly clapping and speaking in what sounded like the Bodhi language. I did not understand a word, but it was fun seeing them. I sat and spent some time before going towards The Tibet museum.

Monks In Debate

But I stood looking at the monks walking around the sacred structure in a clockwise direction. Well, I asked a monk passing by what custom this is, and he said The Kora. He called for me to join the walk & offer my prayers. And I did join them, I can’t explain what I felt, but chants carried me to a different universe. The Tibet Museum is a two-storied building that displays a detailed story of Tibet. We paid Rs 10 and watched the documentaries screened at 3 pm.

Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama
Prayer wheels

While driving back towards my hotel, I peed at the stunning, breathtaking incredible Dharamshala stadium—one of the scenic cricket stadiums with a snow-capped background in the form of the Dauladhar hill range. But I could not stay long, as the rainfall came in like a white sheet. Gratefully, I did not get drenched entirely and was happy with my decision not to go to the Triund trek.

Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama
Dharamshala Stadium

Oh! Yes, this is backpackers’ & trekkers’ paradise too. It gives you the option to explore the beautiful Dhauladhar ranges. You can take a day hike to Kareri village, camp overnight at the meadows of Triund, or take a 4-day trek to the Indrahaar pass. Though Mcleodganj and Dharamshala can be seen throughout the year, the winters can be intimidating. The summers are pleasant, with a maximum temperature of 25 degrees; Monsoons are damp, and the rains here aren’t hefty but can occur anytime.

Trinud Trek

Today’s final destination was Dharamkot-known as the hippie village in Dharamshala. About 4km from Mcleodganj, a quiet small town in a valley surrounded by hills. It’s the best topographic point to camp under the stars beside towering trees and the serene river. Dharamkot has the Vipassana meditation centre, as comfortable as the Tushita Meditation Centre, where many people come and stay here to learn meditation or meditate in search of Nirvana. Well, I sat down in a little tea stall, watching birds get back to treetops at twilight and the river gushing past —the perfect peaceful end to the day.

Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama
Vipassana Mediation

The evening passed, buying a few—souvenirs for home, & woollen articles. The night passed thinking about the charm or an aura; this place owes, which can magically heal anyone who steps into its periphery.


The reverberating silence, the trail with incredible floral diversity, an epitome of tranquillity in the dense forest of deodar & pine. With the backdrop of the snow, capped Dhauladhar- Mecleodganj and Dharamshala is an escape to rejuvenate senses, spirituality, and bodily. 

How to Reach.

By Air: 

The Gaggal Airport, or Kangra Airport, is the nearest airport to Mcleodganj. One can hire a cab or take buses from the airport to reach Macleodganj, which takes around an hour.

By Rail: 

The Pathankot railway station is the closest broad gauge railhead serving those headed to McLeod Ganj, located at a distance of 90km. Only a few trains are available from New Delhi to Pathankot. Cab and buses are readily available outside the station.

By Road: 

The state-owned or private buses connect McLeod Ganj with major North Indian cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, and Dharamshala. HPDTC deluxe buses also ply frequently. You can also drive your vehicle; it’s a journey of 10hrs.


One thought on “Dharamshala: The second home to Dalai Lama

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