A 3-km walk southwest of Kotwali Bazaar winds through picturesque tea gardens and forests to this rock temple dedicated to the local deity Kalpeshwari (another form of goddess Durga). The temple’s exterior walls are painted in a medley of bright colours with carvings depicting Hindu deities. The entrance to the shrine is crested by an elaborate statue of goddess Durga on her lion mount, encased in glass. A unique feature of the sanctum is the stone saucer that collects water trickling down from an unknown source through the year – it is believed that if the saucer dries up, the world will come to an end. A walk around the temple complex affords fine views of the mighty Dhauladhar range.
Locally known as Shaheed Smarak, the War Memorial is situated just off the highway on Kachehri Road, at the entrance to the town. Set in a pine grove, it was built in the memory of soldiers who perished in the wars of 1947-8, 1962, 1965 and 1971 as well as other skirmishes. The monument comprises three huge blocks of black marble inscribed with names of the bravehearts; one of the marble faces is painted with a mural symbolizing the spirit of national freedom.
The monument is surrounded by lovely gardens crisscrossed by pathways that make for a pleasant walk, especially in the evening. The complex has a small exhibit of prototypes of weapons used in the Indian Defence Services. There is also a small kids’ area with swings and see-saws. A café next to the memorial serves snacks and beverages.
Tsug-lha-Khang Temple Complex
McLeodganj’s Seat of Happiness Temple features 1,173 images of the Buddha along with a 44-ft vaulted temple hall. The Dalai Lama’s Palace (the old Mortimer House, residence of the British Viceroy) is a collusion of office space, an audience chamber and his personal quarters.
At the Namgyal Monastery encounter the continuous chanting and monks who are going about their daily chores. The two-tiered Tibet Museum features exhibits related to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the community’s projections and hopes of the future.
Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts
Tibet’s traditional performing arts too found an international outlet in their adopted home. Never was there a richer banquet of Tibetan opera (lhamo), music, theatre and dance, for the world community to admire. Book ahead for the spring (Feb/Mar) annual fiesta Shoton Opera Festival, a 10-day affair held in all its exotic pageantry at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA).