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7 Top Tourist Places To Visit In Mcleodganj
McLeodGanj, a district of Dharamshala, is a spiritual place, mostly Buddhist in nature. The biggest draws for McLeodGanj are its Tibetan culture and crafts, study of Buddhism, and meditation. The town is also known for its Tibetan handicrafts, carpets, garments, and of course the Monks who have come to symbolize the ethos of this little town. You will find dozens of budget hotels, trekking companies, net cafes, traveller restaurants, video movie parlours and wall-to-wall shops selling Tibetan souvenirs here. McleodGanj has become a major centre for the study of Buddhism and Tibetan culture and lots of foreign travellers come here to work on community projects involving the refugee Tibetan community. Here we have the top 7 tourist places to visit when in McLeodganj, from Kangra Fort to meditation centres, Handicraft cooperatives to Tibetan children's village.
The Tsuglagkhang Complex is the palace/temple of His Highness the Dalai Lama. There are two temples here; one belonging to the Goddess Green Tara and the other to Lord Buddha. Between these two temples, you will get the chance to see beautiful statues and rare collections of Buddhist texts.
The Kangra Fort (aka the Nagarkot Fort), was the Royal seat of power during the rule of the Katoch dynasty. You climb through a total of seven gates as you trudge up the cobbled paths of the fort. Inside, 3 richly-carved temples lie in ruins. The fort is massive, and the crumbling beauty of the stony structure lends it a poetic charm. At the entrance is a museum showcasing valuable photographs of the fort prior to the devastating earthquake of 1905, and some exquisite stone sculptures, carvings, idols and other artefacts.
A trip to the Narbulingka Institute is a must if you are keen to absorb yourself into Tibetan culture. There is a nice monastery and a doll museum that is a visual treat- a good peek into Tibetan life and culture. Take some time to look around and you will find many little details that fascinate such as the gold coloured prayer wheels. The in-house Norling Cafe dishes up some good Tibetan fare.
Tibetan Children's Village
The network of Tibetan Children's Villages or TCV's, is an integrated community for the care and education of orphans and refugee children from Tibet who may have been separated from their parents during the perilous trail across the Himalayas. It is a registered, non-profit charitable organization with its main facility based at Dharamsala/McLeodganj. But TCV's are akin to a network spread across India with over 12,000 children under its care. The children of TCV all live together with two foster parents as self-contained family units called "Khimtsang". Approximately 20 girls and 20 boys are usually raised together as brothers and sisters. The children have packed days, rising every day at 6:00 AM. Prayer begins at 7:00 AM, and the day carries on thus, with assembly, classes, sports, cultural co-curricular training, drama etc. until evening prayer and study at 7:00 PM, and finally, lights out at 9:00 PM. Visit this village, meet the kids, volunteer, teach or make a donation. It'll make you happier.
Tibetan Handicrafts Cooperative Centre
The Tibetan Handicrafts Cooperative Centre employs newly arrived Tibetans in the carpet weaving industry. Watch the weavers in action as they painstakingly handcraft the pure wool carpets in beautiful colours, textures and designs. For custom- made clothing, you can head over the road to the tailoring section.
A lot of people come up to McLeodGanj to enroll themselves at one of the many meditation centres. The peace and quiet coupled with the inherent spirituality of the place makes it an ideal retreat for people trying to find their Zen.
Several NGOs are established in the McLeodGanj area with volunteering activities. Some of these are:
Dharmalaya offers educational and service-learning programs and requires volunteers to serve as English or Computer tutors or to help with the environmental programs of the Tibetan Welfare Office.
Learning and Ideas for Tibet (LIT) aims to offer free education for Tibetans, and to inform visitors in the McLeodGanj area on the Tibetan situation.
The Lha Charitable Trust provides medical assistance and clothing to the Tibetan community in in McLeodGanj and needs volunteers who can participate long term as teachers in language and computer training.
The Mountain Cleaners are involved in waste management activities for businesses, locals and tourists in the Dharamshala area and require volunteers for clean-up treks in the hills of the region.