I'm a freelance writer and yogi living in Tepoztlan, Mexico where I'm running www.casadelcorazon.mx with my girlfriend. You can keep up with my other writing on www.bollocks2thewellingtons.com/
Published January 5th 2013
Arts and crafts in a beautiful setting
The Norbulingka institute in Dharamsala town is modelled on the Dalai Lama's old winter palace in Tibet. Building began in 1988 and the complex was opened in 1995 for visitors to take in the various handicrafts and artistic endeavours being undertaken on its grounds.
These stupas usually contain relics from great practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism and the tradition is that you should circumambulate or walk around them in a clockwise direction saying prayers or chanting mantras.
The images are of Tibetan deities such as Medicine Buddhas who all have a place in the rich pantheon of this strain of Buddhism. It is quite unlike other forms of Buddhism, such as Zen, which can be stripped down. The mixing of the local Bon religion with Buddhism in Tibet can explain some of the fantastical imagery.
As you walk around there are many buildings where people are working on handicrafts from sculpture and wood carving through doll making to the extremely detailed and fantastic Thangka paintings which are highly stylised and typical of Tibetan Buddhism.
The main purpose of the Institute now is as a promoter of Tibetan artwork and culture and there is a large shop selling handicrafts of high quality although also of high price compared with what you can get in the market.
Also on site is a temple and residence for the Dalai Lama where he has been known to meet dignitaries although he doesn't often stay here any longer, preferring his site up the hill in Mcleod Ganj