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10 days in Dharamsala

semi-overcast 26 °C

McLeod Ganj,

High up in the mountains a small town of McLeod Ganj is the home of largest community of Tibetans in exile. The Tibetan government is housed here and the day before we arrived they celebrated the their 50th year in India. Walking around the streets of this small town you really get the feel of being in Tibet. The street food sellers, the fruit sellers, the shop and restaurant owners are almost all Tibetan. We decided to spend 10 days here to allow time for Claire to do her proposal. Therefore my time here was very different to Claires.

I attended a Yoga class, 2 hours in the morning 2 in the evening, for 3 days. It was one of the most stringent workouts I have ever done. The Yoga master taught a class of ashtanga in the morning, and hatha in the evening. He was the nearest thing to being made out of rubber I have ever witnessed! It was an amazing experience. It was just over 1 euro for 2 hours and all the profit went to charity.

I then attended a meditation center for 2 days.
To get to the center itself, I first had to walk up a steep incline to a forest, I then had to climb for 20 minutes through the woods until I reached some stairs then I had to climb up around 200 steps to the Buddhist centre. It was like the start of Ace Venture when nature calls. Which is what tipped me over the edge about doing the course.

The day began at 8:30 with various types of meditation and lessons throughout the day, had lunch at 11:30 and that was it until 6:30 that evening when the course finished. There was a focus on teaching the principals of meditation and Buddhism. Silence had to be withheld throughout the day including lunch time.

Just a brief outline of the teaching. The meditation was divided up into two sections, samatha and vipassana and
the holy grail is to achieve eternal happiness. Sweet!!

Samatha is about calming your thoughts and mind (this was pretty easy for me!) and being able to concentrate on a single object for a period of time. The main aim of samatha to be in a position to meditate, ie having a clear and open mind with strong concentration.
We did a lot of samatha involving us observing our own thoughts with out interfering, judging or commenting on the them, not that easy.

Vipasanna is the analytical aspect of meditation, once you have concentrated your mind with samatha, vipassana is used to gain wisdom through analytical thought. There are millions of different types of vipasanna techniques but the main aim is to gain insight and wisdom resulting in happiness.

It was really interesting and im pretty sure i reached enlightenment at least twice in the 2 days(Who needs a life time of meditation). It was pretty heavy going at times, 2 days was enough, but it was worth doing at the same time.

After 5 days of pretty intenseness I was glad to meet up with some friends we met around the town and went for a few drinks and chilled out. But il let claire fill you in on all of that.

And so ends my solo experience of McLeod Ganj. I am now as The Gary Lama


La vie fut douce a Dharamsala...En 10 jours, on se fait rapidement son petit nid.
Dharamsala (McLeod Ganj plus precisement) accueille une grande communaute de refugies tibetains et c’est aussi la ou se trouve le gouvernment tibetain en exil. On a donc l’agreable impression de se retrouver de l’autre cote de l’Himalaya, sur le plus haut plateau du monde…
La aussi, beaucoup d’occidentaux mais pour cette fois c’est pas grave, ca fait du bien aussi de copiner et on a rencontre plein de gens adorables!

Le petit hic c’est le bus Manali – Dharamsala.
Meme si les paysages furent splendides, on a eu quelques frayeurs. Je veux bien etre un peu aventuriere mais doubler un bus sur une route minuscule de montagne avec un gros a pic sur la droite et rien pour nous retenir, c’est juste FOU! La jambe de Gearoid a pris cher car j’ai passe les 7h de trajet a m’y agripper comme une forcenee a chaque sueur froide ! Life was sweet in Dharamsala…In 10 days we really built our little nest.

Dharamsala (McLeod Ganj more precisely) welcomes a big community of Tibetan refugees and this is also where the Tibetan government in exile is. You thus have the nice feeling to be on the other side of the Himalaya, on the highest plateau of the world...
Here again, loads of westerners, but it’s ok for this time because it’s also nice to socialise and we met lovely people!

The only little hic-up was the bus Manali – Dharamsala.
Even if landscapes were amazing, we got a few frights. I’m ok with being a little bit adventurous but over taking a bus on a tiny mountain’s road with a big sheer drop on the right and nothing to keep us from falling, it’s just CRAZY! Gearoid’s leg had a nasty time during these 7 hours because I just squeezed it until blood every time I was scared!


Bref, voila les hauteurs de Dharamsala

Anywya, here is Dharamsala’s heights


La vie spirituelle a Dharamsala : cours de meditation au centre de Tushita

Spiritual life in Dharamsala : meditation courses in Tushita centre


Ici, un programme un peu plus severe pour les etudiants voulant faire une retraite de 10 jours…Gearoid m’a dit que je ne tiendrai pas un jour vu que ca implique de pas parler pendant plus de 2h. Pfff, n’inporte quoi...

Here, a stricter programme for students willing to do a 10 days retreat. Gearoid told me I wouldn’t last a day since it implies not to talk for more than 2 hours. Pffff, don’t know what he’s talking about...


La vie des animaux a Dharamsala
(C'est Gearoid qui a insiste pour que je mette la premiere photo!)
D’ailleurs les amis, nous avons un quizz : le premier qui sait de quel animal il s’agit, postez nous vite un commentaire avec la reponse et vous aurez un prix !

Animals’ life in Dharamsala
(It's Gearoid who insisted to upload the first picture!)
By the way lads, we have a quizz : the first who knows which animal it is, post quickly a comment with the answer and you’ll get a price!


Restaurants et cafes
Restaurants’ and cafes

Voici l'un de nos QG.
Nous avons revu Victoire, notre french lady de Kochi! Ici, avec Gearoid

Here is one of our favourite restaurant
We met our French lady Victoire from Kochi! Here with Gearoid


Jenny et Ray, d'Ecosse et d'Allemagne (rencontres dans le bus Manali - Dharamsala)

Jenny and Ray, from Scotland and Germany (met in the bus Manali - Dharamsala)


Et beaucoup de nourriture a notre table...Avant/apres:

And loads of food at our table...Before/after:


Ici, devant le Green restaurant avec (de gauche a droite): Gearoid, Claire, Jenny, Ray, Victoire, Andy, Philly (de Londres, rencontres dans le bus Manali - Dharamsala egalement)

Here outside the Green restaurant, from left to right: Gearoid, Claire, Jenny, Ray, Victoire, Andy, Philly (of London, also met in the bus Manali - Dharamsala)


(c'est d'ailleurs devenu mon QG car ils avaient le wi-fi et j'avais du boulot a faire. J'ai donc pas mal squatte, d'autant plus qu'ils avaient un gateau chocolat-noix a tomber par terre, le genre hors competition - exclusion faite des gateaux faits par mes grand-meres)

(it actually became my spot because they had wireless and I had a bit of work to do so I ended up staying there quite a lot. Plus they had a chocolate – walnut cake with which you just can’t compete- my grandmothers' cakes excluded !)

Un jour, le record de la plus longue coupure d'electricite a ete atteint: de 10h du matin a 21h! De plus, on a eu droit a un enorme orage, tendance mousson, pendant toute l'aprem. On est donc reste toute la journee au green restaurant a s'empifrer de carrot cake, walnut-chocolate cake, chai (the typique indien) et sans oublier dejeuner et diner :)
Du coup il fallait bien passer le temps: dessin!

One day, we reached the record of the longest power cut: from 10 am to 9pm! Plus, there was a massive storm (worse than monsoon!?) during all the afternoon. So we basically stayed all day in the green restaurant, gorging ourselves with carrot cake, chocolate-walnut cake, chai (tea typically Indian), without forgetting lunch and diner :)
So we had to find occupations: drawing!


La vie "sportive" a Dharamsala (cours - intenses - de Yoga): nous et le prof

"Sportive" life in Dharamsala (intense courses of Yoga): us and the teacher


La vie culturelle a Dharamsala: le Musee tibetain, l'histoire tragique d'un peuple qui a tout perdu...Colonises, exploites, prionniers, refugies dans leur propre pays, leur culture a ete detruite et leurs droits nies.
(Free Tibet!!!)

Cultural life ni Dharamsala: the Tibetan Museum, the tragic history of a people who lost everything...Colonised, exploited, prisoners, refugees in their own country, their culture has been destroyed and their rights, denied.
(Free Tibet!!!)


(Nous avons ecoute les histoires de plusieurs refugies tibetains nous expliquant comment ils sont arrives en Inde, leur passage au travers de montagnes et de glaciers...C'est dement parfois ce que l'instinct de survie nous pousse a faire)
(We listened to a few refugees' stories explaining us how they arrived in India, crossing through mountains and glaciers...It's just crazy sometimes what the survival instinct enables you to do)

Un peu de tout et de rien avant de partir...

A bit of everything and anything before leaving...

Un fermier rentrant ses vaches
A farmer bringing the cows home


Un Yak, un vrai!
A real Yak!


La street food a l'arret de bus...C'est super, il y en a partout dans ce pays!
Some street food at the bus stop...It's great, it's just everywhere in this country!


Un moyen de transport alpha, blinde a mort (ca aussi c'est partout!)
A mode of transport, packed (this also, is everywhere)


Un moulin a priere tibetain, dans un temple Boudhiste
A Tibetan prayer wheel, in a Buddhist temple


Prochain et dernier arret: Kolkata...
Next and last stop: Kolkata...


Posted by g-c 18:21 Archived in India Tagged ecotourism

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