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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Learning about Tibet in Dharamsala

McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala are now synonymous with the Dalai Lama. Our knowledge about him or Tibet was sketchy at best, which is why our highest priority during the  Dharamsala trip was to see if we could learn something more. Our first stop at McLeod Ganj was therefore, the Dalai Lama temple and the Tibet Museum.

The Dalai Lama wasn’t in residence when we visited, and even if he had, a glimpse of him would only be a matter of chance. Resigning ourselves, we instead spent the time wandering around the monastery, remembering all that we had learnt about Tibetan Buddhism at Sikkim. We were about to leave when the sounds of chanting began, and they seemed to beckon us to stay. And stay, we did, through the prayer, simply sitting down and breathing in the spiritual atmosphere all around us.

Inside the temple, as usual, it were the scrolls which I was most fascinated by, and the resemblance of the deities to our Hindu ones.

Once outside, we made a beeline to the Tibet Museum, right at the entrance. We had spotted it on our way in, but had decided to head to the temple first. That turned out to be a good thing, because we spent a lot more time at the museum than we had ever intended!

The Tibet Museum, as the name suggests, is all about Tibet. It chronicles the history of the region, starting from ancient times, to the Chinese occupation, and the plight of the state under Chinese Rule. It also tells us the story of the struggle that is still going on, and those who have played important roles in it – from the religious and spiritual heads, to those who gave up their lives to the cause. The photographs – recent ones as well as rare ones from the archives – are eye openers, at least to those of us who know so little about it.

This is certainly one of the best museums I have visited. They not only have an excellent exhibition going on, there is also a documentary running through the day. They hold regular lectures based on Tibet and its issues, and also sell postcards of the region at reasonable prices. Plus, this is one of the very few museums where they have put up an excellent timeline of the history of Tibet. It makes events stand out, and you actually get a good idea of events as they unfurled.

If you plan to visit Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj, keep aside a few hours for the museum. I assure you, its worth it!

Check the website of the Tibet Museum, for more information. It is extremely detailed and informative, just like the museum itself. I especially appreciate the fact that they organize travelling exhibitions for schools and institutions. 

This post is part of my series on my #summertrip 2015, and I hope to take you along with me as I recount stories from my month long trip, which took me across the country. To get an idea of all the places I visited, and what you can hope to read about, click here.  

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  1. Yes, ma'am, Will do. Didn't know of its existence when I went there. I need to get my friend to explain why I was not informed about this on my trip.

    1. It is quite a recent museum, Usha. Plus its right there at the entrance of the Dalai Lama monastery. I dont think you would have missed it if it had been there then.

  2. Nice post.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us. Loved your blog!


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