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May
24

Cheap Tickets to New Delhi-For a trip of a lifetime

dalai lama

dalai lama

Recently I came across this travelogue about a journey so unique, so life-changing I had to share it with you. Why? Because I can’t imagine anything more amazing than booking a flight to New Delhi to get to the Dalai Lama’s house.

It’s a hike to Upper Dharamsala, the small town in northern India where the Dalai Lama lives in exile. To get to the Kashmir Cottage, a tranquil inn owned by the Dalai Lama’s brother you have to climb through pine trees up a nearly vertical path with crooked stones. The spiritual leader of Tibet lives just up from the hotel on a 6,500 foot peak.

Tibetans often say the Dalai Lama is the physical manifestation of Chenrezig, the enlightened being of compassion; many believe him to be the living incarnation of Buddha. But just about everyone agrees that he is an enlightened and knowledgeable being. So why not book a cheap ticket to new delhi just to feel HIS presence. I mean how many holy people do you know?

McLeod Ganj

McLeod Ganj

Thousands of travelers come to McLeod Ganj annually because of the Dalai Lama. They flock here for the public teachings he holds several times a year, but also for the area’s misty forests and stunning Himalayan views, for courses in Tibetan arts and culture, for meditation and yoga retreats—and feel connected to the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan cause.

In many respects, the area doesn’t feel like India. There are 15,000 Tibetans who live in this place that has been home to the Central Tibetan Administration since 1960. It’s a place of tranquility and chaos. On McLeod Ganj’s main drags, white tourist taxis blare their horns incessantly and cows eat out of trash bins, welcome to India.

kashmir cottage

kashmir cottage

But then look high. See the curving tile roofs and views of the Himalayas, which don’t seem of this earth. And people are so kind here like they know this is where the Dalai Lama lives. Before we leave, a cab driver calls our hotel to wish us a safe journey home. The manager of the Kashmir Cottage feeds you juicy steamed buns and noodles all week, and asks about you daily. This is reason enough to get your butt on a cheap flight to new delhi, is it not?

his holiness's house

his holiness's house

The Dalai Lama’s gated, pale-yellow compound houses his offices, audience chamber, kitchens and on the top level, his personal residence. It is a modest arrangement, considering that some call the Dalai Lama a god-king, but this is the way it should be.  The view from up here is otherworldly. You can see the plains of the Kangra Valley and the snow-capped peaks of the Dhauladhar mountain range. Eagles glide overhead, and the only thing you hear is the flutter of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bright prayer flags that crisscross the valley.

Everywhere you look there are vermilion-robed monks performing the kora—a walking meditation—around the compound. A stretch of the path is lined with prayer wheels, large drums inscribed with the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum.” Roughly translated it means, “Hail to the jewel in the lotus,” and suggests uniting wisdom (the lotus) with compassion (the jewel). Pilgrims turn the prayer wheels clockwise, in succession, repeating the mantra. Fly to New Delhi and see this for yourself.

The open-air temple opposite the compound entrance is buzzing with people in various states of prayer. One woman performs full prostrations, standing with her hands clasped, dropping to her knees and stretching her body out on a mat, then standing up and repeating the process. Others spin hand-held prayer wheels or finger beads.

Outside monks—Tibetan, Indian, European, American—go about ordinary business. They check email at Internet cafes, hang their laundry to dry on clotheslines and sit on balconies drinking tea. One monk approaches my husband, who is carrying an iPod on a collapsible tripod. “Is that 4G?” he asks.

the view from above

the view from above

You get a different view of the monks at the whitewashed Galu Temple in the neighboring village of Dharamkot, which hangs dangerously from the edge of a cliff. Hike a popular slate path toward Triund Hill, catch views of Dharamkot and rolling landscapes full of oak and Rhododendron trees. Yoga and silent meditation retreats dot the area. The snowy tips and slate faces of the Dhauladhars come into sharper relief.

near galu temple

near galu temple

Most book the flight to New Delhi and come all this way  to immerse themselves in Tibetan Buddhism by exploring the main Tibetan temple and sitting in a monks’ class, where there is absolute silence except for the instructor’s dulcet voice. Visit the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Gangchen Kyishong, a brightly colored compound that also houses the Central Tibetan Administration. Here visitors and scholars can view rare manuscripts and art, and take courses in Tibetan language, philosophy and Buddhism.

Getting to Dharamsala, India

Book a cheap flight to new delhi at www.bt-store.com. From there flights from New Delhi take 1½ hours.

  • Staying There: Kashmir Cottage is removed from the bustle of McLeod Ganj and serves delicious Tibetan meals in the common dining room. Another good option is Chonor House, whose rooms are tastefully appointed with Tibetan dĂ©cor.
  • Eating There: Moonpeak Thali on Temple Road serves Himachali thali. Norling CafĂ© at Norbulingka Institute offers Tibetan cuisine and Continental desserts, overlooking a garden.
  • Attending Public Teachings: A schedule of the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Dharamsala is available on his website (dalailama.com). The events are free and open to the public, but require in-person registration.
  • Other Activities: Treks in and around the Dhauladhars are popular. Overnight trips generally include a guide, meals and camping equipment, and run about $30 a day.

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