The past weekend was spent exploring the magical village of Dharamsala. The home of the Dalai Lama's temple. If you are looking for a place that will enrich your memory with unforgettable and unimaginable sights of the world, the Himalayas is where you will find that piece of magic.
The trip started on a coach bus that would take us on a 12 hour journey up windy roads and slippery terrain. I should warn you that if you are afraid of experiencing life-threatening situations, a night bus towards the Himalayan mountains is not for you. We skidded through the monsoon season's wet roads, as our tredless tires screeched and flew the people in the back of the bus into the air. There was not a silent moment on this bus, the breaks seemed to only slow the bus down before a cliff or another car. After half an hour into the mountains a loud bang awoke us. The old and weary tire had exploded. Similar to many people in India who treat their country without care, this bus was yearning to be taken care of. This is just an extension to the dangerous driving in India. Arriving in the morning brought a sigh of relief along with looks of awe at the mountains that surrounded the village and the small, crammed streets that encompassed the village.
Our first journey brought us along the side of a mountain to an even smaller village based around a temple. One hundred steps up along the side of a mountain led us to a waterfall where locals swam in the clearest of water. A few of us decided to keep heading up into the mountains alongside the waterfalls heightening path. Small cafes and snack shops are found all throughout the mountains where you might find a tourist with a similar journey in mind. We jumped from rock to rock at a flat level on top of the waterfall and when the rocks became too difficult for our hands and feet we continued to another side of a mountain. Going up the mountains you may come accross piles of rocks organized in a pyramid where travellers have set down a rock as a sign of good luck. Each chance I had I would set down my own rock and appreciate in fullness the view that I was privileged to share with everyone who made their way just as I had.
Dalai Lama's temple later that day is like venturing into a distant world of past and present. While walking through the town you will see monks with shaven heads and long burgandy gowns wrapped around their bodies. At the Dalai Lama's temple, which is set to display a view of the town as well as a layer of mountains along it's balcony, monks are seen praying in unison cross-legged on the floor or chatting to tourists. The temple itself was small in comparison to other's I have seen in India. But the quiantness of this place, along with it's simplicity yet magical feeling reflects the town's layout as well as the Bhuddist nature. On our way back from the temple we were blessed with a pink and blue sky after the day's rainfall which had us climbing onto a stranger's rooftop to open our eyes towards the tips of snowy mountains with a rainbow stretching accross their curves.
The next day was another opportunity to venture into mountains which teased our senses. But before this journey started we made our way to another temple down below the village at 6:30am. The monks of this temple eat here, learn here, and grow together here. At 6:30 a couple younger boys blew through shells in unison to begin the morning. We sat inside the temple along the wall as the monks of all ages prayed for over an hour. Each person seemed to be speaking at a different speed or tone. The prayer created an aura in the room, as if a deeper presence lingered. Insence filled the air and food was brought to each of the monks after the prayer. Only peace and love would pass through these temple gates.
At 9am we began to climb paths along a mountainside. Alongside the path, our silence allowed a family of monkeys to swing through tiny branches and sit in eachother's arms. The mountains kept giving us more to explore. Strung and weaved accross high tree tops, pieces of blue, yellow, red, and white cloth are attatched to rope or string with prayers faded on their surfaces. These prayers are said to be sent closer to their Gods when placed in this manner.
In search for a waterfall that arrows written in paint on rocks told us we would find, we also found ourselves hiking through shoulder-width mud pathways. Climbing with on all-fours at times, after three hours of travel around the side of a mountain, the sound of a waterfall greeted us. Between two green mountains that touched the sky the water crashed against huge rocks and came down towards us. Our time at this place of serenity was short-lived as the monsoon rain hit us once again and we were forced to turn around along the slippery slopes. The journey back was a little easier as we knew what to expect, but we had to be extra careful that our feet wouldn't lose grip on the corner of a rock, or the mud wouldn't give way and crash down the cliff.
I spent my time along these walks memorizing the views that have imprinted themselves in my memory. This was an opportunity that I will never forget and I hope one day to return to these spots that held me up and showed me beauty.