Dharamsala: A Spiritual Sanctuary to Call our OM

Dharamsala A Spiritual Sanctuary

Dharamsala Tibet India

Dharamsala is known as a “spiritual sanctuary” that welcomes all. It is a place where people of all walks of life live; monks, refugees, Tibetans, backpackers all together. Located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, this is home to the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso and the Tibetan Government in exile. At first glance, it is hard not to notice the beautiful Tibetan prayer flags, spinning prayer wheels, and rocks carved with mantras all throughout the town. Nonetheless, we chose to live and volunteer in Dharamsala to support our Tibetan friends, refugees and ex-political prisoners.

Dharamsala A Spiritual Sanctuary

Over 55 years of resistance and going strong

To illustrate, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has lived in exile for over 70 years. Since 1959, many thousands of Tibetan refugees escaped to India, leaving their families behind. Never to return. With only the clothes on their backs, some barley and a guide, it takes most refugees a month to walk through the Himalayas to get to Nepal. What keeps refugees motivated is to meet the Dalai Lama once they arrive in India. Unfortunately, many have risked their lives for the price of freedom.  With loving hearts and deep empathy for all, we can only imagine.

Dharamsala A Spiritual Sanctuary
Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

What you can do to help Tibetan refugees living in India

Below are four reputable volunteer organizations:

Volunteer Tibet. An organization which offers impromptu placements for volunteers with English and Computer skills. Registration is as simple as dropping in and asking the office administrator what volunteer positions are available. Here, we both taught English to Tibetan refugges and Tibetan monks. To find the Volunteer Tibet office, just walk down the main road and look for their sign.

LHA. A non-profit that encourages community development and social interaction through its programs and volunteer opportunities. By all means, LHA accepts both skilled an unskilled volunteers. Alex taught students MS Office and how to use the internet.  For more information, please visit LHA Charitable Trust

Rogpa. Located on Jogiwara Road in Mcleod Ganj.  Surely, this NGO strives to aid Tibetan families with life skills, offers a childcare co-op for single parent families, and has a coffee shop that accepts clothing donations.  Read what it was like for me to volunteer at ROGPA.

Gu Chu Sum Movement of Tibet. Provides English classes and support to Tibetan ex-political prisoners and refugees. Thankfully, students (and their families) are given a free place to stay for a year while receiving an education. Integrating with the Tibetan and Indian communities helps to foster a sense of belonging as well as strong support networks.

Alex volunteered in a safe house helping former political prisoners with English conversational skills. Alex stated in a conversation that he “did not feel like a teacher.” In fact, it was a place where he came to hang out with friends.  Read about the Gu Chu Sum Movement  to learn more.

Photo courtesy of the Dalai Lama.

Being in the Presence of Two Noble Peace Prize Recipients

After living in Dharamsala for three weeks, we accepted the fact we may not meet his Holiness. Then, one day word spread that the Dalai Lama was in town. We could hardly believe it, the Universe answered our prayers! In fact, we celebrated His Holiness’ return with another surprise. A belated birthday lecture with another great Nobel Peace Prize recipient named the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu recited a lecture on self-awareness and conducted prayers for the Tibetan people and the world.

Dharamsala A Spiritual Sanctuary

We Came as Backpackers and Left as Friends

To summarize, volunteering in Dharamsala changed our lives and is an experience we will never forget. Giving back to the Tibetan community was the least we could do as supporters of freedom for all.  We hope our stories of volunteering highlight the need for international support towards Tibet and refugees in general.

Always, our hope is His Holiness the Dalai Lama and all Tibetans will return to Tibet very soon. Lastly, that Tibet gains the autonomy it deserves.

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

Last Updated: June 23, 2017

Dharamsala A Spiritual Sanctuary

Dharamsala A Spiritual Sanctuary

Dharamsala A Spiritual Sanctuary

Author: Darlynne

Darlynne founded Live Love Backpack to inspire others to make a positive difference in the world through traveling, volunteering, and self-awareness. Darlynne has traveled to over 76 countries. Family adventures include backpacking off the beaten path, hiking in Ontario and creating happy memories.

21 Replies to “Dharamsala: A Spiritual Sanctuary to Call our OM”

  1. Bravo. What an experience to see the Dalai Lama in person.

    1. One of the most memorable moments of our lives Matcha. Thanks for reading.

  2. Om mani padme hum. Have you been to Tibet before?

    1. Yes, we went there back in 2012. It was surreal and it was an eye-opener! Namaste Nevaeh.

  3. Brian Cohen says: Reply

    Your adventures are incredible and love all the pics:)

    1. Namaste Bri! Thanks and hope to see you soon!

  4. I heard about this place…hope to make it here one day. FREE TIBET.

    1. Hope you do too! Happy travels CJ!

  5. This place looks so cold as dressed in winter jackets … can’t believe it is in India. A spiritual home indeed.

    1. We were surprised too Vegi! It happened to snow when we first arrived and our bus got stuck in the snow. We had to travel by foot to the top of the mountain. Breath-taking and a spiritual place even at 4am in the dark!

  6. Bryan Marjoram says: Reply

    This is such a cool blog. Great ideas for traveling with a spouse/and or child. It can be done! Bodhi is fortunate to have such adventurous parents. Keep on truckin’.

    1. Thanks Bryan for reading along and for all your positive comments! You’re a star!

  7. India is a spiritual place. I visited many cities and this small town has that special something that attracted me to it. I too was mesmerized with the simplicity and beauty of such a simple town. Perhaps it was the genuine people, the uplifting energy or just knowing the Dalai Lama was present.

    1. Feel the same way about India. Namaste.

  8. Long live the Dalai Lama. I can only imagine life in Tibet. It has been so long since the Dalai Lama escaped persecution. He deserves to live in his country free with his Tibetan people. I think it’s important to bring world attention to the Tibet cause. FREE TIBET

    1. Yes, totally agree Dev. Namaste.

  9. Hi I’m glad you had a positive experience volunteering in India and hope so many others can volunteer, in India or in other countries that need help. We all live on this planet and must help others when we can. This experience is an example of making the world a better place. For all of us and our future generation, we need to think more of others than ourselves. one love.

    1. One love.

  10. Dar, I am so proud of you and Alex going all over the world, volunteering, helping people improve their lives by teaching them and helping to meet their needs. Because we only live once in this world,and you had done a great job while you’re on earth. May God bless you always.

    1. Awww Dolce, thanks so much for the kind words! Volunteering is such a passion, hope we can do more of it. Hugs.

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