Dharamsala - Dalai Lama Temple
Dharamsala is a popular place with travelers. It is the home of the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, and is where the Tibetan Government in Exile is located. It is a friendly and good place to spend some time. You will need warm cloths here at night, even during the summer. It rains heavily during the rainy season from July to the beginning of September. Dharamshala is the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India. Following the 1959 Tibetan uprising there was an influx of Tibetan refugees who followed the 14th Dalai Lama. His presence and the Tibetan population has made Dharamshala a popular destination for Indian and foreign tourists, including students studying Tibet.
During the winter is can get very cold. Dalai Lama Every year in February or March the Dalai Lama usually gives classes, which are open to the public. I was told he also may give classes in June. You may request to have a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama by contacting his secretary, whose office in next to his residence in McLeod Ganj. You are supposed to ask for an appointment at least four months in advance, because his schedule is so busy. Very few people are granted a private audience, as the Dalai Lama’s secretary receives many requests every day.
Most people can only count on attending a public audience, where he personally greets and shakes the hand of up to one thousand people at one time. It is difficult to know in advance when an audience will be, because they are usually only announced several days in advance. To come to a public audience, you have to fill in a form and present you passport in advance at the Branch Security Office on Bhagsu Rd near the Hotel Tibet, above the Welfare Office in McLeod Ganj. I was told that he gives a public audience once a month when he is in McLeod Ganj. When I went to a public audience, I was told the day before that it would be at 10 am. I came at 9.15 am and there was a line. At 9.30 am everyone started to go through a security check. You are not allow to carry anything in for the audience, including a camera or a cigarette lighter. Anything you are carrying has to be checked in with security. When you enter, the audience takes place in front of the Dalai Lama’s residence, directly in front of you as you come up the hill, not to your right.
The Residence of the Dalai Lama is next to the temple - there is a nice path that goes around the temple and the place where the Dalai Lama lives. It has some prayer wheels, prayer flags and mani stones. This walk should be done clockwise. To get here follow the road to Dharamsala and look for a sign that says Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, when the roads bears left and down.
Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa - This interesting gompa is located down a road past the Om Guest House. Located here is a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha and two gigantic drums made by monks here. There are some excellent butter sculptures, which are made during Losar (Tibetan New Year) and then destroyed the next year during Losar.