Dharamsala

Home to His Holiness the Dalai lama and a good place to eat gnocchi.
New Year's Eve 2002 After surviving my share of a bottle of Royal Chateux "red wine" -- the second most toxic tasting alcoholic beverage I have ever encountered, after the vile orange-flavored stuff that the Punjabis were drinking -- shared with a couple of Englishwomen, I ended up at a bar in Dharamsala with a bunch of other gringoes for a proper New Year's Eve celebration. The bar, unfortunately, stopped serving fifteen minutes before midnight. Doh! The Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa I stayed at the Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa (Buddhist monastery) in McLeod Ganj, which is a new version (a reincarnation, perhaps?) of a Tibetan monastery that was destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. Dharamsala is the larger town, and McLeod Ganj, where HH the Dalai Lama actually lives, is a smaller area north of Dharamsala. The gompa was actually a few hundred stairs below McLeod Ganj; it was a hell of a hike to get back out with my backpack.
A few of the Punjabis that befriended me on the way to Dharamsala. These were three of the five young Punjabis that were in the same compartment of the toy train to Kangra as me. They were taking a quick Christmas-break trip to see the temple at Kangra, and the temple and waterfall at Bhagsu, a small town next to McLeod Ganj. with the additional the ulterior motive, I think, of having an opportunity to be away from their parents to drink and smoke (cigarettes) a little. This is at the Shiva temple in Bhagsu; the names of these three are Raman, Ashok, and Sunny (not sure on the spelling of "Sunny"). Raman, yours truly, and Sunny. Yours truly with the Punjabis, again at the Bhagsu Shiva temple.
Detail of a prayer flag at the Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa. Detail of a prayer flag at the Dip Tse-Chok Ling Gompa. Prayer wheels at the Dip Tse-Chok Ling monastery. Prayer wheels at the Dip Tse-Chok Ling monastery.
Indians looking out the window of the toy train to Dharamsala. Indians looking out the window of the toy train to Kangra, the closest railway station to Dharamsala.