Exiled Tibetan Community in India Offers Place for Cultural Connections

January 29, 2006

Source: The Boston Globe


On January 29, 2006 The Boston Globe reported, "Nestled amid forests of deodar and rhododendron, the North Indian hill station of McLeod Ganj, home of the Tibetan community in exile, is perched upon a foothill. Towering above, the jagged Dhauladhar Himalaya rises to more than 18,000 feet; far below, the Kangra Valley stretches to the horizon. In 1959 Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, was granted political asylum in India after being forced to flee his country by the increasingly oppressive Chinese occupation. In the months that followed, more than 80,000 Tibetan devotees followed him into exile. A year later, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru relocated the Tibetans to McLeod Ganj, a former British Army base that had been mostly abandoned since 1905, when an earthquake razed all of the town's buildings. The temporary home, with its mountains and sparse population, was thought to be a perfect environment for the Tibetans. Since those early days, McLeod Ganj has grown from a tiny hamlet into a world center for the study of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. Monasteries, nunneries, a library of Tibetan works, retreat centers, and even a Tibetan institute of performing arts are among the buildings in the surrounding hills and forests. These days McLeod Ganj is a cultural crossroads, as much a destination for backpackers, hikers, and students of Buddhism as it is an adopted home for the Tibetan people."