North India: Identity in Exile, Sample Itinerary
This is a sample itinerary. No two Dragons courses are the same. Every itinerary considers the unique strengths of the instructor team and interests of the student group.
|Week 1||After traversing oceans and hemispheres, we will arrive in New Delhi International airport. We will take taxis to take us to the Tibetan Settlement in Delhi. Finally our sangha (community) unites! Upon our arrival, we will catch trains and jeeps to Tso Pema, our orientation site. The village of Tso Pema (also known as Rewalsar) surrounds a beautiful lake that is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs. We will stay in the Drikung Kagyu Monastery on the lakeside, and spend our time getting to know each-other, learning about India and Tibetan culture, and setting our intentions for the course.|
|Week 2||From Tso Pema, we travel northwest by local bus for several days. Following the Beas River as it winds its way through the forested Kangra Valley, we visit monasteries, sacred sites, and refugee communities until reaching McLeod Ganj. Home to the Tibetan Government in Exile as well as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, McLeod Ganj (6,831 ft) is a dynamic, fascinating town perched upon a ridge above the city of Dharamsala. With its activists, religious scholars, Buddhist masters, and traditional artists, McLeod Ganj is the center of Tibetan refugee culture in India. During our stay, we live with Tibetan families, meet inspiring members of the refugee community—from aid workers to former political prisoners to poets to painters—and have the opportunity to work with local organizations that promote women’s rights, provide job training for refugees, and train students in traditional visual and performing arts.|
|Week 3||We fly from Delhi to Leh, one of the highest airports in the world! We spend our first few days in Ladakh in Phyang, a beautiful and peaceful village a half hour outside of Leh. We have a chance to explore the surrounding areas, visit the town of Leh and adjust to the altitude (roughly 11,500 ft!) and new environment. We also reflect on our journey thus far in our mid-course process.|
|Week 4||From Phyang we will transition to our rural homestay in the village of Tar by taking a bus a few hours from Leh, then walking a few hours on a footpath. Tar is a small, beautiful village and is a great example of traditional Ladakhi culture and architecture. Here we will have a chance to immerse ourselves in the slow pace of village life and help with seasonal fieldwork, such as harvesting barley.|
|Week 5||After properly acclimatizing to the altitude, we are ready to ascend on foot into the the Himalayas. Mountain guides navigate us through the jaw-dropping moonscape of mountains and valleys. Our trek traverses an incredible diversity of geography and village life, most nights we will stay in people’s homes in the villages and eat traditional Ladakhi food.|
|Week 6||To conclude our time in Ladakh, we partake in the seasonal apricot harvest in the village of Likir. Together with villagers, we pick and process apricots and make traditional Ladakhi apricot preserves. Simultaneously, we celebrate the ‘fruits’ of our time in India and prepare to bring this experience home with us. After flying back down to the Plains, we spend our final days in Delhi exploring religious and historical sights.|