My weekly Slice of Life are my letters to my Doddamma. She is my father’s elder brother’s wife. Doddamma literally means ‘elder mother’. She is 88 years old. She cannot hear properly if I telephone to talk to her. So, I have been writing letters to her since October 2017. I enjoy writing letters and she is happy to read them. They are only about the everyday moments in my life. I post my letters to her every week.
My letters to my doddamma are about our trip to Amritsar and Dharamsala between 1st and 9th of this month. So I am sharing the same in my Slice of Life post.
Around McLeodganj 7-01-2020
It was drizzling yesterday and today morning too the rain is coming down. We were told the day was going to be a rainy one. It is so in the mountains, it may start raining suddenly and stop after a while or it may continue raining for days. We did not cancel our day trip. Our hotel organized different day trips by taxi. We selected the one which included a visit to the famous cricket stadium in Dharamsala.
After a good breakfast in the hotel we left at 9.45. Our driver was Rajesh and the car a new one. He said we were the first passengers to ride in it. He had yet to place mats on the floor of the car and had put a lot of newspapers there. We were careful not to dirty the floor but it was raining. 😊
Our first stop was the Kangra Art Museum. It was a small one but had beautiful paintings, miniature paintings, thangkas and other artifacts. We spent more than an hour there. While describing some of the paintings to Aravinda we observed that Radha and Krishna were shown with a palace as the background. I had always imagined Radha in Brindavana and not in palaces. Thangkas are beautiful paintings on cloth, many are on silk brocade, showing scenes from the life of the Buddha. When we came out it was still raining.
Our next stop was Norbulingka Institute. It was founded in 1995 to preserve Tibetan arts and culture. We bought tickets at the entrance and walked into what seemed another world. A cobbled path led us to a beautiful building called Norling House. It was a guest house. From there we climbed to a slightly higher level and saw small streams on either side under the shade of big, beautiful trees. Students learn the different crafts in the workshops. People are allowed into the workshops. We first walked into the woodcraft room. Many craftsmen were carving beautiful scenes in wood. There were a variety of instruments. We watched them carving intricate designs. In the next room the wooden artifacts were being painted.
The Losel Doll museum had over 150 dolls showing different scenes from Tibetan history. They reminded me of the Doll museum in New Delhi which had a beautiful collection.
In the metal workshop, students were busy drawing and working on metal. Two of them were kind enough to explain to us what they were doing. They showed us the instruments we were using. They were happy to learn that we were from Karnataka. They were from Bylakuppe, the Tibetan settlement in our state.
We then went to the temple, a large hall with the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. It is the largest outside Tibet. There were beautiful thangkas on the wall and one very large one hanging from the ceiling. We sat there for some time. It was very peaceful. It was still raining as we came out. We ran for cover and reached the institute’s shop. There were beautiful works of art made in the institute for sale. Aravind purchased an embossed painting of the white conch, a propitious symbol, and a wooden carving of the endless knot. This symbol is thought by the Tibetans to be the most important symbol. As we were leaving my husband found that he had left the bag in the temple. It was still there when he went to get it.
It was now time for us to leave. A beautiful place and we were glad to have been there. It was past lunch time but we were not hungry and decided to skip lunch. We then proceeded to our next destination.
(To be continued…)