Tuesday, December 4, 2007

McLeod Gunj

One of the 1st things that strikes you when you reach McLeod Gunj is what a melting pot it is- of cultures, of races, of attitudes. Here clearly the extraordinary exists with & even actively mingles with the ordinary. Home away from home to the Tibetan Buddhists in exile, the Mcleod Gunj streets are busy with monks in their maroon robes, tourists, sellers, the curious, the seeker, the learned and the refugee. And after the quietness of Dalhousie ( thankfully this is off-season) this place is abuzz with posters and announcers informing the onlooker of the next Dalai Lama visit, the next trek, the next meditation or Reiki or Yoga course. And as an antidote to this activity all you need to do is walk down any of the roads from the main square – and you will reach either the Tsuglagkhang Complex or an ancient Hindu Bhagsu Nag temple or the St John church- each an oasis of calm. And how coincidental (or not) that they should belong to different religions.
Announcers, leaflets & posters are the order of the day- literally.

On arrival I was really looking forward to seeing my 1st Gompa but didn’t know I will see it this soon. On our way to the main Buddhist Temple (Tsuglagkhang) Complex, crammed between many little hotels and shops selling local memorabilia stood a Tibetan stupa or Chorten with the characterictic prayer wheels. A quick look :

Im sorry about the picture quality, but this is the only one I had that showed it in context.

Detailed and typical Tibetal designs adorn the temple.

A local offering her prayers.

Details on the pillars

A monk polishing a lamp.

The Fantastically coloured Prayer wheels. They contain written inscriptions of sacred buddhist mantras or chants. There are handles below the circular wheels with which you can spin them. Spinning the wheel is a form of prayer.

Next in line is the main Temple complex or the Tsuglagkhang Complex which is very different in mood and architecture from this one.


Spandana said...

fantastic photos, vineeta.

vineeta said...

Spandana, thanx for saying that. I was feeling really apologetic for uploading some of these pics. And Im sure I could have done a better job with my own camera which chose to die on me when i needed it most :) on that dramatic note, I'll sign off- do drop by often :)

skyblue+seagreen said...

nice pictures. believe you enjoyed your whole trip.

vineeta said...

Yes shiva, I really did. It was a long time since I took off like this. I enjoy travelling :)

dhruti@isa said...

looking at the leaflets stuck on the wall reminded me of the time we went to mcleodgunj and succumbed to one of them….the cooking class..it was great fun… adventurous too-we got to know our chef's(a young boy) escape thru waist deep snow from tibet..we made and ate momos dutifully bought the steamers on our visit to the closest utensil shop and packed it up and put it away as soon as we reached delhi… but have some really fond memories of the thupka and momos....the 2 hour long tea drinking in the shacks and not to miss nick’s just out of the oven brownies…. on my next trip it is going to be health check class by looking at the footprint…

Bhavna said...

McLeod Gunj is one of my favorite places...from the time I was in college! We used to hitch and hike to this lovely hill town and spend some good days lounging about.
Did you pick up some of the awesome 'silver' stuff they sell on the roadside?

vineeta said...

Dhruti! what a pleasant surprise :) cooking classes- what fun! and thats so true- I was smiling as I read about the utensil reaching the attic the minute u came to Delhi :) And did you say health check by seeing your foot print?! Amazing. Thats the problem when you only spend a couple of days at a place- its never enough..

vineeta said...

Bhavna, there are some serious advantages to being a Delhi-ite :) Imagine just hopping across to McLeod Ganj- lucky you! Yes, I did pick up a silver locket - A long rectangle which opens out like a box- with some slokas engraved on it :) Along with loads of other stuff- its a souvenir paradise!