McLeod Ganj is a busy town where diverse people and stories cross their paths. In its streets you can meet Buddhist monks, Indian tourists coming there to visit the Bhagsu temple and waterfall, Europeans coming to attend yoga or meditation classes, or representatives of the Tibetan nation, as McLeod Ganj is both a seat of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile and permanent residence of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.
We came here to attend a work camp focused on Tibetan and Indian culture and education. We spent most of the mornings at a local school, working on renovations and painting educational murals on the walls.
In the afternoons, we explored some of the many local stories – we visited Indian and Tibetan art institutes, a Buddhist monastery, Hinduism sacred lake and temples, a Tibetan boarding school with 1500 kids of all ages, discussed the Tibetan issue (among other topics) in the English conversation classes attended by the local community, and many other things. Among the best parts of our stay was the delicious Indian food served each day by our amazing cook Pavan, and the morning yoga classes with our yoga master.
What was hard to get used to was cars blowing horns all the time (including when there is no need for it), and the trash everywhere. But, it is part of the experience from India. At least, we could do something with the latter issue with an amazing local NGO Waste Warriors (thanks for cleaning the waterfall together, it was a nice day).
It was a lovely 14 days together with 6 co-volunteers and our amazing leader, Kiran. We learned a lot about this part of world and hopefully, contributed a little to the story of India, Tibet, and McLeod Ganj itself.