Dharamsala was traditionally ruled by the Katoch rulers of Kangra, whose dynasty is said to be one of the oldest royal families in the world. Tibetans started settling n Dharmsala in the 1960’s when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet. Nowadays, the city has become synonymous with Buddhism in India, which makes it the perfect place to learn about Tibetan Buddhism, and the Tibetan struggle. Many visitors to Dharamsala hope to meet the Dalai Lama, and while it is rare, it is also doable.
How to meet the Dalai Lama
First, you’ll want to check the Dalai Lama’s website, which provides his annual itinerary. You’ll want to look for dates when he won’t be traveling, or when he will be holding public lectures in Dharamsala.
Next, once you arrive in Dharamsala, you’ll want to meet the Dalai Lama’s secretary at the Tsuglagkhang Complex. The secretary will be able to provide more information about potential unscheduled events, which do happen regularly in Dharamsala.
With a good deal of luck, you may be able to find an unscheduled lecture, or event, in which you can hear the Dalai Lama speak in person.
What to do in Dharamsala
When you’re not hob-knobbing with his Holiness, you might want to see a bit of the city. For shopping, try Kotwali Bazaar where you can pick up all kinds of Tibetan souvenirs like jewelry, and prayer flags.
Staying in Dharamsala can be quite cheap, or luxurious, depending on your budget. A room in a budget hotel can be as cheap as 200 rupees per day. Mid-range hotels will offer heated water, and internet for around 800 rupees, and high end hotels will offer in-house bars, massages, and more for 1,800 rupees.
Don’t forget that summer is the high season in Dharamsala, so you’ll want to book accordingly!