Will Bueché



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The arid mesa of Dharamsala

Posted in Personal by Will on Wednesday, February 9th, 2005 ~ 2am

So the first book cover I ever helped design finally got (self-)published after many months of gelling. See the second cover down on this page.

But the book also has a blurb (an endorsement) that I wrote for the author, and the blurb has a doozy of a blooper. The book takes place in many locales including Dharmsala and also Seattle. So in my blurb I said something about how the story ranges “from Dharamsala to the mists of Seattle.” Actually I said “from the arid mesa of Dharamsala to the mists of Seattle” but I included a note to the author saying “please swap out the ‘arid mesa’ bit for something that actually is true about the geography of Dharmsala.” But I remember the author liked the sound of “arid mesa” and didn’t like the idea of changing it, even though I told her it isn’t true, Dharmsala isn’t on a mesa (unless you want to call the whole Tibetan Plateau a mesa, which by definition is can’t be because it’s a million times bigger than a mesa) and I’m not sure about the “arid” bit either.

So, I am a bit embarassed. I searched in vain for any reference to there being a mesa anywhere near Dharamsala, but all the geographic texts I have found don’t give me any hope that my temporary text was anywhere near right. I’m still holding out some hope, but that’s because I’m irrational.

See actual geographical info below, so you won’t find yourself in a similar position someday!

A Guide to Little Lhasa in India

Dharamsala, the picturesque Hill Queen of the Kangra Valley is situated in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It lies on a spur of the Dhauladhar range, the Pir Panjal region of the Outer Himalayas; and commands majestic views of the mighty Dhauladhar ranges above, and the Kangra Valley below. Dhauladhar means, “white ridge” and this breathtaking, snow-capped range rises out of the Kangra Valley to a height of 5,200 meters (17,000 feet)
The Dhauladhar mountain range provides a spectacular backdrop to this beautiful hill resort – ideal for long and short trekking.

Since 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, fleeing persecution in his homeland, made it his home in exile and Dharamsala is head quarter of Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Today, more than 10,000 Tibetan refugees consider Dharamsala their second home, and called Little Lhasa in India

Dharamsala is divided into two very different parts. Kotwali Bazaar and areas further down the valley (at the average height of 1,250 metres) are called Lower Dharamsala, while McLeod Gunj (at the height of nearly 1,800 metres) and surrounding areas are known as Upper Dharamsala. McLeod Gunj is nine kilometres by bus route and four kilometres by taxi route up the hill from Kotwali Bazaar. While inhabitants of Lower Dharamsala are almost all Indians, McLeod Gunj is primarily a Tibetan area. Pine, Himalayan oak, and rhododendron and deodar forests surround McLeod Gunj. The main crops grown by local Indians in the valleys below McLeod Gunj are rice, wheat and tea.

Today, streams of Tibetan refugees from all over the world flock to McLeod Gunj to receive blessings and teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Western and Indian tourists and scholars come here to see the rebirth of an ancient and fascinating civilization. The high altitude and cool weather contribute physically to this recreation of the original Tibetan environment. Dharamsala pulsates with the sights and sounds of old Tibet. Though certainly more modern, life is basically Tibetan in character. Shops strung out along the narrow streets of McLeod Gunj sell traditional Tibetan arts and handicrafts and the aroma of Tibetan dishes.

The cultural life in Dharamsala is colourful and rich in tradition. One can pay visit to the many cultural institute, such as Main Temple ( TSUGLAG KHANG (CENTRAL CATHEDRAL) Situated opposite the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsuglag Khang is known to the locals as the Main Temple.

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