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Tag: Dharamshala

An Aussie in Dharamshala by Stéphanie

25 May 2017

So what’s an Aussie girl doing in Dharamshala? I come from a corporate environment. A dog-eat-dog world where, as an ABC (Australian born Chinese) woman I’ve not only had to battle against the corporate glass ceiling but a bamboo one as well. Long work weeks and back-to-back meetings dominated my time as I trained a team of staff to take over my role. Whether by fate or subconscious manifestation I found myself at a crossroads not long ago. Do I continue in a company that, out of desperation finally offered me the promotion I should have gotten long ago? Or do I give it all up and step into the unknown. I chose the latter. And so, began a series of events and synchronicities that led to me selling my apartment and packing my bags for India. I had decided to leave the bustling streets of Sydney where everyone is in a rush to get somewhere, and head to the small town of Mcleod Ganj where no one is in a rush to get anywhere. As the current home of H.H. the Dalai Lama, I had ‘eat-pray-love-esque’ expectations of finding a wise old guru who would impart pearls of universal wisdom. And that I would, in a sudden flash of realization, reach enlightenment and then disappear in a puff of smoke like the ancient Mayans did so very long ago. Well I’m still here. So we all know what happened with that little fantasy. My first few days were spent in a rented apartment with nothing more than a bed and a side table. Nothing. No chairs, no wardrobe, no internet. It was here that I learned the art of squat bathing and eating in the dark when the electricity cut out. Here in the mountains, the smog of Delhi is replaced by the dirt from the terrains. A fine dusting of earth coats practically every surface and one learns here to be perpetually ‘dirty’. The 1st world princess in me balked at having to sit on the dusty ground the first time around and no amount of hand sanitiser was going to keep my hands in salubrious condition. It’s here, in a place where people seemingly have ‘nothing’, that you realise they have everything. When your choice of soaps are ‘option A’ or ‘option A’, you come to appreciate that it’s not about the presence of ‘organic jojoba extracts […]

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My first Sang Puja with a Tibetan family by Stéphanie

22 May 2017

It’s inconceivable how the universe conspires to see you thrive. My mind has been stuffed. I haven’t been able to feel happy; mostly numb and in a dream-like state. The heaviness of losing loved ones, and not doing too well at living in the present moment. It’s normal. I am in a place where I am leaving an experience and diving deep into the waters of another. Loving myself and those around me. I’ve become closer and more aware of my weaknesses than I have ever experienced. It’s not a bad thing, but it can be heavy. I’m trying not to push away these feelings, but really experiencing the depths of confusion. Every feeling demands to be felt; and what a shame it would be to push away what is not My inner voice tells me it will pass, to be patient. So I wait, and here I’ve been sent. Following my best friend to Dharamsala, India. Only a few miles away from where His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides. I’m staying in a small village on top of a mountain where rivers gush fresh water, forests and tenderness of the Tibetan people surround me. The little shops all have photos of the Dalai Lama. In fact, the pool hall I go to on Friday nights filled with tattooed men, blaring hard rap, reeking of cigarette smoke has a happy little photo of His Holiness on the wall. Even the young scar faced Tibetan man who approached me mid-game who I thought would laugh at my ability to miss every ball I shot, gently gave me instructions on how to improve my game. Speaking  with me and smiling so brightly I could have melted into a little puddle. I asked Tenzin, my new friend, if he could describe the personality of Tibetan people to me. He responded, “kind, patient, and peaceful.” Yup. The people here are just that beautiful. How I ended up in a place like this at a time when my heart is in such need for rest is beyond my comprehension. And how I ended up being in a purification ritual? You can’t just make these things up. – The welcoming to my first sang puja, or ritual, went a little bit like this: There was a monk in the corner, sitting; chanting his chant. Drumming his drum. He wore deep red robes, an yellow vest underneath, prayer beads hanging around his neck. A presence of peace. […]

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An interview with Tashi Gyalpo, the founder of Omalaya for Radio Free Asia by Stéphanie

Sikyong award

10 September 2015

‘If You Make a Good Business Plan You Will Always Be Successful’ On September 2nd this year ‒ Tibetan Democracy Day ‒ Gyalpo Tashi, the founder of Omalaya (formerly Tendrel Travel), was presented with an entrepreneurship award by the Central Tibetan Administration. Here, in an edited version of an interview with Radio Free Asia, Tashi explains his company’s origins and his plans for the future. http://www.rfa.org/tibetan/exile/interview-with-owner-of-tendrel-travel-09292015142116.html#.VgrYdpW9 Radio Free Asia: Tashi Delek to all listeners of Radio Free Asia. I’m Tsewang Ngodup. My guest today is Mr Gyalpo Tashi, who was born in Jangthang, Ladakh. He attended Upper TCV School in Dharamsala and is an alumnus of the University of Delhi. Tashi is among the first businessmen to establish a Tibetan company ‒ Omalaya ‒ in Ladakh, along with a Ladakhi partner. This year, on Tibetan Democracy Day, four outstanding Tibetan entrepreneurs were awarded seed money by the Tibetan Entrepreneurship Development Programme of the Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA’s) finance department. Tashi was amongst the winners and was presented with Rs 400,000 by the CTA’s political leader, Dr Lobsang Sangay. The award was made possible through the support of the Dalai Lama Foundation, Montreal, Canada. Tashi, please explain to us how you came up with the idea for your travel company. GyalpoTashi:  I once visited France and met some French people who, upon learning that I was from Ladakh and had worked as a guide and interpreter of Buddhism, said they wanted to visit the country. They asked me to arrange a tour and this is how the company was started. In 2010, I ran a tour programme for three groups and in 2014 we hosted 25 groups. 2014 was special, because we arranged for the groups to meet a shaman, join Introduction to Buddhism sessions, as well as touring in and around Leh. RFA: Omalaya is based in Dharamsala and receives groups from around the world, especially France. Besides Ladakh, do you visit other sites in north India? GT:  Our main programmes are in Ladakh, as the landscape, culture and pilgrimage sites are very similar to those of Tibet, which is more difficult to visit. We also run tours from Dharamsala to Bodhgaya and Nepal. Next year, we also plan to take a group to Bhutan.   RFA: You’ve said you were proud to win the award ‒ to be encouraged to develop your business so that you can give more […]

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One week in the heart of the Himalayas by Gokul

13 July 2015

Omalaya provides a glimpse of what it feels like to spend a week of your life in the mystical Himalayas. Through a short video that was shot in Dharamshala, Rishikesh and Triund, we provide you a precursor of what is in store for you should you choose to visit the Himalayas. Dharamshala is the home to his Holiness the Dalai Lama and his impact on this hill town is quite profound. The Tsuglakhang temple, the Kalachakra temple and the Namgyal monastery are all important symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. People from all around the world visit this picturesque town in search of spirituality, to pursue Tibetan studies or just to visit his Holiness. The scene next shifts to the quiet and scenic Triund. A three hour trek away from the hustle and bustle of Dharamshala, Triund offers a magnificent view of the Dhauladhar mountain ranges. At Triund, one can see the snow-capped peaks that rise high above and touch the sky. As we descend down, we reach the holy towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar where the mountains meet the plains. The two towns are renowned for their Hindu temples, ashrams, yoga & meditation centres and most importantly the Ganga Arti. Of course, the Himalayas extend to more than 2000 kilometres in length and no video could do enough justice if it attempts to capture the beauty of this natural wonder in its totality. However, our video does provide you a flavor of the majestic mountains. We operate our very own journeys across Northern India, particularly in the Himalayan region. Our trips are guided by experts To know more about the journeys we offer, please click here. For more videos from Omalaya, kindly visit our Youtube page.


Dharamshala – A Tibet in exile by Stéphanie

Moine kora Dharamshala

23 June 2015

Dharamsala is situated in the foothills of the Himalayan Dhauladhar Range, in Himachal Pradesh, northern India. The area is a global, cultural and religious meeting point, where first- and second-generation Tibetan monks and refugees rub shoulders with local Gaddi villagers, Kashmiri businesspeople and travellers from all over the world. It offers a huge diversity of sights, activities and attractions. Dharamsala is divided into four main areas – McLeodganj, Bhagsunag, Lower Dharamsala and Naddi. McLeodganj was named after David McLeod, the British Empire’s Lieutenant Governor of Punjab. It is now the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. During high season, the town throngs with tourists and spiritual pilgrims. McLeodganj’s major landmark is the Thekchen Choling, which houses the Dalai Lama’s residence and the Tsuglagkang (main temple). Of simple design, and built from concrete, the complex provides Tibetan refugees with a gathering place for prayer. Its plainness reflects the Dalai Lama’s decision not to build in lavish Tibetan style, but rather to respect the refugee community’s limited means. Radiating from the main square, McLeodganj’s narrow streets are lined with hotels, internet cafes, shops and stalls, selling everything from Kashmiri shawls to goat-blood sausages, turquoise and coral jewellery, musical instruments and Tibetan hand-made paper. The town’s restaurants range from Tibetan to Punjabi, Italian, French, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Israeli. Adjacent to the main temple are the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics and Namgyal Monastery, from amongst whose monks the Dalai Lama’s personal attendants are chosen. The Mani Path, behind the palace, leads to a home for retired members of the Tibetan administration. A five-minute taxi ride down the steep jeep road towards Dharamsala lies the Gangchen Kyishong, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Here, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies oversees the running of all government departments, including religion, culture, education, health and finance, as well as contributing to the struggle for a free Tibet. The government complex also houses the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives which, built in 1971, contains statues, paintings and books, many of which were salvaged from Tibetan monasteries and temples by escaping refugees. Two minutes’ further walk takes you to the Men Tse Kang Tibetan Medical and Astrological Centre. The medical centre contains the largest Tibetan pharmacy outside of Tibet, to which staff bring medicinal plants gathered from around Himachal Pradesh for processing. Lower Dharamsala was founded as a military cantonment by the British in […]

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His Holiness Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday by Stéphanie

Happy birthday Dalaï-Lama

20 June 2015

His Holiness  Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday.  This year, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s  80th birthday falls on June 21st – the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, according to the Tibetan calendar. To mark the occasion, a special long-life prayer (Gyaton Tenshug) will be offered to His Holiness here in Dharamshala, India, by Tibetans living in exile, representing their brothers and sisters back home in Tibet. According to Tibetan tradition, birthdays are only observed for children reaching one year in age and adults reaching 80. Both are marked by a simple family and village celebration, whilst the 80-year-adult is presented with a white chupa (traditional Tibetan dress). His Holiness himself is 80 years old this year and his birthday will be celebrated in Tibet despite the Chinese government’s ban on expressions of joy at his leadership. In Dharamsala, the Gyaton Tenshug will be offered at the Tsuklag Khang (Dalai Lama temple), attended by local Tibetans and Indians from all walks of life, as well as visiting foreigners and special guests from around the world. The event marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of a simple monk who has striven to make the world a better place. His Holiness has dedicated his life to the promotion of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, self-discipline and religious harmony, and has also worked tirelessly to preserve the Tibetan Buddhist culture of peace and non-violence. Omalaya wishes the Dalai Lama a long life and thanks him for his contribution of peace, love and compassion to the world. A live, four-hour satellite TV broadcast of the Gyaton Tenshug offering and proceeding ceremonies will begin on June 21st at 7.30am Indian Standard Time.

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