Dalai Lama country

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  , Himachal Pradesh,
Sunday, March 25, 2012

From the Golden Temple I managed to get the free bus to the train station and boarding the train, my plan is to get the Toy Train from here over to Dharamasala, then the bus to McLeod Ganj.  Unfortunately the Toy Train isn’t running as hasn’t been for almost a year so I end up heading to the bus station and just caught the bus.  I enjoyed the journey and it is nice seeing the mountains again, there are a few tourists on the bus and strangely enough I recognize them all from staying at the temple.  I get into a guest house, unfortunately the restaurant is closed so I can’t get even a cuppa on arrival, 

I head out to the town which is small and easy to find your way around.After a walk round I seek out the Mountaineering Commissioner’s office to ask about crossing the Rohtang La when I get up to Manali, he provides me with details of his counterpart in Manali.  He thinks the road is opened to almost the Murrhi check post, he says the walk over is made difficult by the extremely high winds which hit this side but when you get onto the actual pass they die down.  He gives me the names of a few towns to stay in on the way up, and advised to request getting the local helicopter back out which I would need to request on arrival, it all sounds quite exciting so I will look into it further.  The seed has been sown by a friend in Kathmandu about crossing the Rohtang La, although his trip was by motorbike not by trekking!

I enjoy just finding my way around and I’m intrigued to know where the Dalai Lama’s residence is so I seek it out, I have a quick wander in and I’m surprised to find out that he is in residence at the minute.  I speak to one of his security about requesting to meet him and he tells me to submit a request online and to come back in the morning,  I thank him and head back into the town.  I have dinner in a popular spot and end up meeting another few tourists some of which are in the same guest house, and it turns into a fun night.  Next day though I head back to the temple but I’m told there’s normally a month waiting list to meet the Dalai Lama and unfortunately it’s just not possible, oh well I’m a bit disappointed although did I really think I was going to meet him… well probably not.

There’s a lovely walk round the temple complex which I lap a couple of times, the place is full of scripted stones to ‘Free Tibet’ or ‘Long live the Dalai Lama’ which seem to be the main theme, there’s prayer wheels and temples and I walk half the way with an older monk (‘lama’) who is lovely and chants continuously.  The place is full of prayer flags and I’m some parts the whole area is covered, other lama approaches me and invite me into a smaller temple, he sits me down and offers me tea and explains some of their rituals etc.  he doesn’t seem to want me to leave so I make my excuses!  

On my way back round I decided to go back into the residence area and visit the temple inside which I’ve not been to yet.  I walk up the stairs and look round, some of the prayer wheels here are very big and they have information for tourists written on how to go round them, I spin them as instructed then go over to a room which is filled with candles, there are hundreds of them lit.  It is very peaceful here, you could stay all day… anyway I go to head down the stairs and there’s a lama holding on with one hand and stick in the other, so I ask him if he needs a hand… he’s ok just taking his time, we exchange greetings and have a few words after which he touches my arm in way of a blessing and I turn to continue downstairs.  I literally turn to keep going when it struck me who I’d just been speaking to, it was the actual 'Dalai Lama', I couldn’t believe my luck and I’d just been blessed by him.  I got to the bottom of the stairs and I did take a quick discrete picture and although he has aged from photos I have seen and now has a stick, it was definitely him, I couldn’t believe it.

A friend I recently made in Kathmandu Steve, on leaving Kathmandu was coming here to have an audience with the Dalai Lama so I emailed Steve the photograph I’d taken and he confirmed it most definitely was him and that I’d been blessed.  It was a very special moment and one that I will always remember, ‘Long live the Dalai Lama’.

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