Dharamsala: Perched on the high slopes of the Kangra Valley, in the enchanting world where the spinning of the wheel and fluttering prayer flags spread the message of peace and universal harmony, Dharamsala is the home of the Buddhist spiritual head, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the Tibetan government in exile.
Exalted Tenzin Gyatso His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, fearing persecution by the invading Chinese army, left Lhasa in Tibet overnight, in disguise and sought political asylum in India in 1959. Pandit Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India settled them in this area. The place was liked by Dalai Lama and he made it his residence, and is now more popular as "Tibetan Kingdom in Exile or "Little Lhasa in India". Facing destruction of their culture and religion (of the country's 6,259 monasteries, nunneries and temples, all but eight have been completely destroyed since the Chinese occupation), over 80,000 Tibetans have fled the Chinese occupation of their country and followed their spiritual leader and mentor and made India their home. It has a traditional aura, soft-spoken, smiling Tibetans and a bracing climate. Against the backdrop of the splendid, snow-capped Dhauladhar heights are pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron.
Tsuglag Khang, or the Main Temple, is the most important Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet, and one of the first structures built when His Holiness arrived in India, and today it is a place that is often bustling with prayerful activity. Named after a 7th century temple in Lhasa, Tsuglag Khang is simple in comparison, yet still fascinating and extremely peaceful. The temple enshrines three main images: a three meter high gilded bronze statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha; one of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion of whom the Dalai Lama is considered an incarnation; and Padmasambhava, the 8th century Indian who introduced Buddhism to Tibet. Both Avalokitesvara and Padmasambhava are facing Tibet. The image of Avalokitesvara has a fascinating history. During the period when the Chinese destroyed Buddhist temples, the original Avalokitesvara image, which was in the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, was thrown away. A wrathful and a peaceful face images of the Avalokitesvara were salvaged, and in 1970, after passing through many hands, these faces were encased in the new Avalokitesvara which stands at Tsuglag Khang. It is silver crafted and has eleven faces, one thousand arms and one thousand eyes. Also at Tsuglag Khang is a collection of sacred texts known as the Khagyur and the Tengyur. The Khagyur are the direct teachings of Buddha, whereas the Tengyur are commentaries on the Khagyur by Indian and Tibetan scholars.
Also see Namgyalma Stupa erected as a memorial to those who laid down their lives for the cause of the freedom of Tibet.