Want to study Tibetan or Ayurvedic massage? Or maybe you are more interested in Yoga and meditation? Ayurvedic lifestyle? Or are you more of a Buddhist philosophy kind of person? Is your passion cooking? You name anything that comes to your mind, and you will be able to study it in McLeodGanj in Dharamsala! Below some tips on how to get by in this small HImalayan town…
THE STUDENT VILLAGE
In McLeodGanj (Dharamsala) this little Tibetan village in the Indian side of the Himalayas, you can study just about anything you can think of! It´s really amazing when you walk the streets and keep seeing signs of schools offering courses on Tibetan massage, Astrology, Thai massage, Tibetan cooking, Ayurveda, Abhyanga massage, Yoga, meditation, Buddhist philosophy, etc. When you start meeting people you also notice that most of the foreigners here are eternal students; people who just love to spend their holidays acquiring new knowledge or maybe fine-tuning their existent one.
I thought I would share some tips for those that are thinking of coming here in the near future…
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND
1. Although many of the courses offered here and their teachers are genuinely competent and professional, you also bump into those that do not necessarily teach the “real thing”. So just keep your eyes and ears open when coming here, talk to other travellers about their experiences and try to read in discussion forums on the internet before arriving here.
2. The high season here is from June to September (more or less), when other parts of India are too hot to visit. At this same time, or latest in July, the Monsoon rains start, which means that you will have several hours of rain every day. This is not too bad though as when the rain stops it´s nice and cool and you can see some amazing rainbows and a beautiful sky. Do, however, bring your umbrella, raincoat, light rainboots, as well as hairdryer (for drying your clothes if it´s too humid to dry them otherwise!). Another thing with the high season is that there are many local tourists in McLeodGanj, and this means that the restaurants and shops are more crowded than usual.
3. The upside with coming here in low season is that you avoid the Monsoon and it´s less crowdy, but the downside is that there might be fewer courses available and you might miss some of the great teachers as many of them travel to the south for teaching during this time.
4. Be aware of the monkeys! Even if they are cute and funny, they don’t miss any chance to steal your belongings and to even bite you if you dare to stop them.
5. To avoid getting stomach sick it´s best to choose two or three restaurants that you know that suit your tummy. Even if its nice to try our different places, the chance for getting sick gets bigger. It´s also good to ask what water they use for preparing the tea, as if it´s not filtered and it´s not boiled enough, you might be in the risk zone. You can even ask the waiters to prepare tea for you from mineral water if you buy a bottle yourself, this way you minimize the risk of getting any unwelcomed germns in your system.
6. It´s always a good idea to carry hand sanitizer and wet towels as this way you can keep clean without water (sometimes the water is cut off and you cannot wash your hands). Also carry toiletpaper with you as the locals don´t use it and therefore seldom have it.
7. There are many stairs in McLeodGanj and when it rains it gets very slippery, so be very careful when you walk around, especially when it´s dark. It´s a good idea to take some good walking shoes and always carry a flashlight during the night. The good thing with the stairs and hills is that your gluteus muscles get a great work-out for free!
8. If you are interested in meeting the Dalai Lama and hear his teachings, it´s a good idea to check his schedule in advance, to make sure that you arrive here in time to enjoy his audiences. He gives teachings here often, but also travels around a lot, so this is why it´s a good idea to plan ahead when possible.
Ok, so here were just a few tips I could think of, after having spent a month and a half here in McLeodGandj, Dharamsala. In case you have any further tips please do share them with your fellow readers below in “comments”, thank you!
Blessings from Dharamsala!
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