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Two weeks in Dharamsala

10 November 2010 by Emma

Photo of townhouses and cars

Tibet Museum in Dharamsala

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently in India undertaking research on the Tibet collections held at National Museums Liverpool. Upper Dharamsala or Mcleod Ganj is home to the 14th Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and it is here that many cultural and governmental institutions were rebuilt after 1959 when many Tibetans including the Dalai Lama came to this small hill station to seek refuge.

Here you will find government offices, libraries and museums and a focus for many Buddhist pilgrims from around the world; the Tsuklagkhang.  In exile the Tsuklagkhang has become a focus for Tibetan Buddhist practice and in many ways acts as a replacement for the Jokhang, the seventh century temple which sits at the very heart of Lhasa in Tibet and is considered the most important Buddhist site for Tibetans. 

The Tsuklagkhang complex is home not only to the Dalai Lama’s official residence, but also the Tibet Museum, which tells through personal stories, photographs and video installations the events that changed individual Tibetans lives and choices and sacrifices those people made to reach India. I was impressed with the way those individual stories acted as symbols for the stories of many Tibetans who had made those journeys and unlike most museums I visit I read every word! 

Surrounding the complex is a peaceful track cut into the hillside that is strewn with prayer flags, piles of mani stones and rows of brightly painted prayer wheels. This is where pilgrims come to take kora, (a circuit of the complex), it has become a good place for me to walk and clear my head a little after a full day in front of the archives.

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