Lockdown in Mcleod Ganj – India’s Own Mini Tibet
I arrived in India on March 1, 2020. I had the next six months planned – volunteering, Vipassana meditations, Buddhism studies and hiking in the Himalayas in both India and Nepal.
I was in Kolcutta volunteering with the Mother Teresa organisation when the vibe on the street changed and I no longer felt totally safe in the city, so I booked a flight to Dharamasala on March 19. There were 14 people on the Air India flight, so social distancing was not an issue at all.
I’m so glad I made the decision to come to the mountains as India went into lockdown on March 21.
I spent the first six weeks in my amazing Yoga home, Rams Yoga House overlooking the stunning Dharamshala valley, the temple and residence of HH Dalai Lama who is also in lockdown. The hotel is amazing, its more like a yoga retreat venue with a rooftop yoga studio, restaurant and daily yoga classes. Each room has a balcony with amazing views. A family of monkeys turn up each morning and afternoon to enjoy the views too.
I started recording yoga and meditation classes on the roof with the stunning snowcapped Himalayan mountains as a backdrop on April 3. I now have 83 practices on my website and growing every day. An unexpected new business has opened up for me during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
For the month of May I’ve enjoyed wandering the quaint streets, getting the know the shop owners and going for walks, as we are permitted to go out in public, wearing a mask until 2 pm each day. The culture here in McLeod Ganj is rich, vibrant and very friendly.
On May 12 – one of my first outings, I was bitten by an old dog at the Bhagsunath Temple as I was walking past on my way back from Bhagsu Waterfall, so now I am undergoing a series of five Rabi shots over the course of 28 days. I have one more to go. I walk down the mountain to the Delek hospital for each injection – the walk is stunning.
I’ve just discovered walking the Kora Circuit around the Tsuglagkhang temple complex of HH Dalai llama. It’s an amazing walk – a pilgrimage for all Tibetan Buddhists. There are many shrines, prayer wheels and prayer flags along the way. The valley & mountain views and the thick lush forests add to the tranquility of the circuit. I feel absolutely at peace and totally honoured to be walking this circuit every day.
March to June is the usual tourist season, so I feel so blessed to be circumambulating the shortens (buddhist shrines) with a handful of local tibetans, a few monkeys, dogs and an old bull that I see each day walking in the clockwise direction.
It’s my new daily iso-exercise routine.
I truly am blessed to be here in Dharamasala during this time. There is no traffic, there are no tourists it really is absolute bliss and I’m very grateful to be here in lockdown.