After the 14th
Dalai Lama was forced into exile as consequence of the Tibetan uprising of
1959, more than 150,000 Tibetan refugees have undertaken long and dangerous
journeys through the Himalayans of Nepal and India
following their leader and escaping Chinese oppression.
In March 2008, wave of violent protests
against Chinese rule in the capital of Tibet led
the government to increase boarder control. It is estimated that before March
2008 approximately 2,500 Tibetan refugees would arrive at Dharamshala in India each
year, the number has dropped to 550 since the new control measures have been
The Chinese government keeps tight control
of the Tibetan boarders. Permits to leave the country are difficult to get and
the Chinese government has not issued new passports for Tibetans for years.
This forces them to cross the boarders illegally.
The journey through the "ancient"
route is located 100 km from Mount Everest. It connects the southern Tibetan town of Tingri (at an
altitude of 4,250 meters) to the towns of Namche, Bazaar, Lukla and Jiri in Nepal.
Some refugees choose to travel to Nepal
through the remote Himalayan regions of Mustang and Humla. Many make their way
by following the Humla Karnali River along Mount Kailash.
Earlier this year, China
collected Tibetans' passports with the purpose of replacing them with new
electronic passports leading Tibetans to surrender their old passport but
without ever receiving a new one.
Buddhist monks wash their clothes in a river in the Himalayan Mountains.
Many Tibetan refugees pilgrimage through
the holiest sites in Siddhartha's life on their way to Dharamshala.
Once outside China
many Tibetan refugees pilgrimage through the holiest sites in Siddhartha's life
on their way to Dharamshala.
It is estimated that 30 percent of Tibetan
refugees are children.
The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh
Gaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is visited by Pilgrims from all over Nepal, China and
South East Asia.
Also known as the "Temple of the Great
Awakening", the Mahabodhi Temple is particularly important to Buddhists since it was here that
Buddha meditated over the foundations of his Dharma.
Buddhist spend days following the footsteps
of Siddhartha Gautama's first seven weeks of enlightenment.
Pilgrims meditate over seven sacred sites
practicing each of the meditation method that lead the Buddha to his
According to the legend, lotus flowers
sprung up along the Buddha's feet as he meditated while walking back and forth
between the Animeshlocha Stupa and the Bodhi tree. This walk is now known as
the Ranachakarma or the Jewel Walk.
The Bodhi Tree is the most sacred site of
the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. It was under this sacred fig tree that Buddha
attained his enlightenment.
The final destination for many Tibetan
refugees is the Himalayan town of McLeod
McLeod Ganj, also known as "Little
Lhasa", is a small busy town that welcomes Buddhists and hosts the Dalai
Lama's home in exile.
In McLeod Ganj, Buddhist can find the peace
and tranquility they seek for developing their practices and continuing their
It is common practice for student monks to
gather and discuss the nuances of Buddhist thought.
Monks perform a characteristic gesture of
clapping their hands and pointing at their opposition when making a point in
Monks gather in the courtyard of the
Tsuglagkhang Complex for their heated debates.
McLeod Ganj hosts a number of monasteries
and temporary residences for visiting pilgrims as well as new comers.
Mcleod Ganj sits quietly 2,082 meters high
in the Dhauladhar Range in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India.
is the wish to see others free from suffering.”