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Himalaya

Day 36: Dharamsala and McLeodganj

McLeodganj, India 
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At the Tibet Medical and Astrology Centre. An astrologer hard at work.
Michael Palin - HimalayaI ask Phurbu if he has had his own astrological chart made. He shakes his head. There is no record of his date or time of birth. All this information, and everything else his family owned, was left behind when his parents fled Tibet.

He smiles gravely.

'I was born on the roadside.'

Perhaps the crown jewel of the exiles' achievement is the Norbulingka Institute, named after the Dalai Lama's summer palace in Lhasa, and dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan craft and culture. Once through the gates we're in lush, beautifully ordered gardens rising gently in
a series of terraces to the gold-tipped temple at the top of the hill. The paths are paved with slate slabs, and soft, gently swaying stands of bamboo are both protective and mysterious. Flowers trail round columns and arches and water flows artfully down, bubbling from gargoyle mouths into a series of fishponds. The air is charged with the constant high-pitched trill of insects.

It's described to me as 'a campus' but with cell-phone beeps and a constant quiet coming and going between departments, another description comes to mind.

This is a highly motivated Garden of Eden.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 36: Dharamsala and McLeodganj
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: McLeodganj
  • Book page no: 83

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