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Published: October 7th 2008
Well another day in Little Tibet!
Today I took a taxi about a half hour down to the famous Norbulingka Insititute! The ride was bumpy, and through what seemed to be a neighborhood. South of Dharamsala, in the foothills, it is an incredible place, aimed at preserving Tibetan culture and arts and crafts. There are the most highly skilled artisans doing metal work (think Huge Buddha heads), and painters doing the most intricate work ever - think painting with the point of a needle, along with applique work (sewn with horse hair and silk) that is so incredibly detailed. I got to take a tour of the work areas, and meet some of the students, then went off to explore the place on my own. Norbulingka is a replica of a tibetan monastery, and it covered in bamboo groves, with running water everywhere, beautiful ponds, meditations areas, and an enormous Buddhist temple with a gold Buddha rescued from Tibet during the Chinese occupation.
I had the pleasure of meditating in the temple alone for a while, before walking up on the roof to check out the architecture and more art. The Tibetan detail is almost indescribable. So many colors,
telling the story of Buddha's life, and set in such a serene environment.
I had lunch at the cafe, traditional Tibetan noodle soup with veggies, and had to fend off a puppy that kept wanting a bite! Cute dog, but not so much. After checking out the shop, where they sell many of the handicrafts they create, and a funny conversation with a Tibetan woman about gambling in Las Vegas (she was enthralled!!), I headed out, back with my driver up into the mountains of Dharamsala. It was pouring rain by the time I got back.. so I hung out and got some dinner.
There is a wide variety of food choices here, from Indian to Italian, Chinese to Tibetan, and even semi American continental! I went to the Indian place for some vegetarian Punjabi food- they have this great option called a "Thali" which is basically a combo platter, served in steel bowls, on a steel plate with some naan or paratha (flatbreads). It is nice to get to try a litle of everything.
The next day I went on another hike, up to a little town called Bagsu, where the river flows through, and they
The Golden Buddha inside the temple
rescued from a monastery in Tibet during the Chinese occupation
have created these pools that people swim and bathe in! This is so crazy because the water is freezing, probably 45 degrees. I also visited the Shiva temple there, and walked through the bazzar before heading up the actual trailhead to the waterfall. It wasn't a hard hike, probably 1.5 miles, and there were lots of people there hanging out at the cafe at the top. Surprise, there were a group of guys swimming under the waterfall here too! And in their skimpy underwear- woo-hoo!
I did a bunch of filming of the town, and some more shopping, revisiting of a few places, and then took a taxi to the airport! The flight back to Delhi was only an hour, on a small prop plane, kind of scary but well worth it since the train ride and car up here took me about 17 hours total.
Back in Delhi, I hung out at Jon Lea and Bob's place, relaxing, catching up, watching the VP debate on CNN, and enjoying their company!
Next up! South India, Pondicherry!
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