McLeod Ganj is approximately 2000 meters above the see and nestled in the Dhauladhar range (the southern branch of the main Outer Himalayan chain of mountains). It is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, which in itself seems like an oxymoron. I would never put ‘monks’ and ‘government’ in the same sentence.
I’m not sure why, but I had figured that the town would be quiet even though his holiness was in residence… Boy oh boy was I wrong. I arrived in Mcleod Ganj to a mass of tourists all coming to hear the Dalai Lama speak during a 4 day convention. I didn’t get to see him – which in hindsight I am a little sad about. However I did visit his compound and get a glimpse into what a monks life entails.
The bus ride to McLeod Ganj was beautiful. Winding roads, breathtaking views and a climb into the stunning Himalayas. I was surprised by the Tibetan military presence as I had just assumed Tibet was opposed to weapons – but you learn something new every day.
Highlight of my trip was seeing the Monks all together – all races and genders, heads shaved bald, cloaks burnt orange.
When I arrived at the compound majority of the monks were sitting in the sun in groups of 2 or 3 debating certain topics. I kept hearing clapping sounds, which turned out to be the way monks ended debates (whereby the winner claps his hand in the losers face – not very peaceful).
It was a great day of just monk watching. Their worshipping is inspiring,
However, my favourite is the prayer wheel for if you’re too lazy to verbalise the mantras – simply spin them as you walk past.
I decided to spend the extra $2 (yes I said two) and lux it up in an AC reclining seat bus down the winding roads from Mcleod Ganj to Delhi. Leaving Mcleod Ganj actually proved to be a little emotional. Not only had I just got my voice back after attending the Vipassana Meditation Retreat, I had just been reintroduced into society (albeit the society of monks in red robes). But the show must go on and I was en route to the worlds most famous temple dedicating a man’s ability to love a woman and what the loss of that woman drove him to create.