Wednesday, October 29, 2008
MCLEOD GANJ - INDIA OR TIBET
We are now in McLeod Ganj, (also known as Upper Dharamshala) a city in the state of Himachal Pradesh in Northern India. We are in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and we are also in the exiled home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 1959, when China "acquired" Tibet, India gave to the Tibetan refugees the city of McLeod Ganj. Here in McLeod Ganj, the Tibetan people are making a life for themselves while trying to maintain their culture and heritage to bring back to a Free Tibet.
This city/village is the antithesis of Delhi. Here the air is clean, the cars are few, the trash/garbage is less, the town is quiet and the culture is Tibetan. There are plenty of Indians living here in this area as well, but it's the Tibetan population that stands out. The shops along the streets sell Tibetan handicrafts and while you can still eat Indian food you can also eat Tibetan food.
This is a city where a family of four can go out to dinner for 350 Rupees ($7.00 US) and I'm talking about enough food for six! Marty and I each had our hair cut for 50 Rupees ($1.00) and each of us had a one hour Tibetan Massage for the whopping price of 450 Rupees ($9.00). The Tibetan Museum set us back 5 Rupees each ($.10) and the beautiful snow capped Himalayan Mountains and the incredible cultural experience we are having is free. We love McLeod Ganj and our only regret is that we are here for only one week. We could have easily spent three!
While India is filled with all kinds of Hindu Temples, here you find Buddhist Temples as well. You can walk down the main street and stop by the Stupa to spin the Prayer Wheels. Monks in their burgundy robes dot the landscape where ever you go. Since there are still Hindus in the area, cows will roam the streets but now that we are in the foothills of the mountains, sheep and goats wander the hillside and monkeys can be seen sitting outside your restaurant window at any time. It is truly a magical place.