Thursday, May 5, 2011

MacLeod Ganj April 7th-10th

From Jammu we took a day train to Pathankot and from there took a five hour bus ride into the lower mountain range of MacLeod Ganj. When people talk about the Dali Lama and the Tibetan exile government they often incorrectly say it is in Dharmasala-- in reality it is another 10kms further up the mountain in a town called MacLeod Ganj. Named after a Scottish member of the ruling Raj-- MacLeod, not Ganj.

MacLeod Ganj is a site of refuge for the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan government, and any Tibetan refugees. In the 1950s the Chinese government "liberated" Tibet because it saw it as a historical part of China. In the years that have followed the Chinese have killed over 1 million Tibetans and destroyed over 95% of the Temples and religious spaces of the Buddhist Tibetans. In recent years China has completed a fast rail system directly into the heart of Tibet. This makes the forced relocation of Chinese into Tibet much easier. They are slowly breeding out the native Tibetans and killing their culture. Currently it is against the law even to own a picture of the Dali Lama, the incarnation of Buddha.

Despite this tragic story the Tibetans are still the most loving and compassionate people around. Monks frequently express their distress about "losing compassion for the Chinese" a lesson that many of us, including myself, can learn from.

MacLeod Ganj for us was a time of rest and relaxation amongst the wonderful people of Tibet. We spent the days lounging around, talking to monks and Tibetan exiles. We even taught an English class or two with an organization that has been established to teach Tibetans English as well as to teach foreigners about the struggle that Tibet has and continues to face.

To me, the Tibetans, although Buddhist, exemplify how we are called to live as Christians or more generally just as good people. The love they show not only for their fellow man, all God's creatures, and most importantly towards their enemies is something we can all try to emulate.

Perhaps the best thing about Tibetans though is their love of laughter and the joy with which they live their lives.

From MacLeod Ganj we headed west on the train towards Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple. 


  1. Glad you got the rest of it up. Hope you've got lots of pictures too. Looking forward to the next installment

  2. have caught up with your blogs what a wonderful trip bet it was great to feel cold after all that heat its amazing we are able to visit such places and meet such exceptional people it makes me feel quite humble and makes me wonder at the things I moan about Shame about the lamb strike ! St Andrews Himalaya's are probably just as cold Great to talk to you take care will speak soon love you