Many years ago, in 1998 I was approached by a friend for composing music for a film on His Holi Highness The Dalai Lama. I agreed. Vinita said that I ought to go to Dharamshala as that culture is so different you won't understand anything sitting in Pune. She has travelled a lot since her childhood and knows much more about places and all that than I know! And yes, She was so very correct! So that was the first time I went to Dharamshala. I went everywhere with the filming crew. We went to several Tibetan institutes, we went to TIPA, we went in places I wouldn't have got otherwise! We met The Dalai Lama too and had an interview with Him too. He is such a sweet person ! I stayed there for about a week in 1998, had had our meeting, interview and filming with The Dalai Lama and later on was there just experiencing the place . It was simply great. And the place has since stayed in my mind! I remembered nearly everything there even after a gap of a decade in my next visit!
After that I have visited Dharamshala several times. Love the place. The place is just like that. Once you visit, you can’t get it out of your mind. So following to a complex concert in Delhi where The Hon. President of India was present, I had decided to go to Dharamshala once again as I was simply missing the place.
And so I just went to the newly built – actually still in making bus stand at Kashmiri Gate in Delhi and just booked a ticket to Dharamshala. Its an overnight journey, where the bus takes several stops at some small towns and of course in Chandigarh. By some interpretation of some Supreme Court order now all buses in Himachal Pradesh have stripped off the curtains! So now you just suffer the direct hit of the Sun through the huge windows of Volvo bus! Next time I should take an umbrella ! I believe the ruling is aimed at private cars for not allowing the curtains or dark shades to be used on windows so I imagine the terrorists and rapists and such should be seen to all! How they will identify only the court knows, but surely this is not needed for the public busses ! Thankfully the bus reaches Dharamshala around 7 in the morning and you escape from this sun stroke. Around 5-530 the light around the valley starts growing and you wake up with a constant movement of the bus as if you were in a small ship sailing through a storm! The road to Dharamshala is beautiful. Himalayas are beautiful! Its just a great feeling to wake up and find yourself right in the middle of a Ghat of Himalayas with those lovely trees around.
Like all actually I wanted to go to Upper Dharamshala or McLeod Ganj. When I will mention Dharamshala now it will be Upper Dharamshala. Usually when people say that they are going to Dharamshala, they are actually going to Upper Dharamshala or McLeod ganj. This is where The Dalai Lama – now commonly referred to as Guruji resides! In 1959 when China invaded Tibet, The Dalai Lama felt certain that if stays in Tibet, he will never see the sunlight again! So he left his beloved land and came to India. Indian government offered him a place to stay in Delhi, but he preferred Upper Dharamshala which being in Himalaya was more like his own lands. Eventually China was to prove his fear to be true. Several years later when the new Panchen Lama was identified by the Buddhist Priests, within no time he one day simply disappeared with his family and later China admitted that they have taken him in custody for His protection! At the age of 5 The Panchen Lama became the youngest political prisoner in the world.