The land of eternal snow peaks, Himachal Pradesh is where the plains of the subcontinent are swept up into peaks and folds of the mighty Himalaya. it is a truly dramatic state with deep valleys and rushing rivers, where Buddhist temples in stark mountains deserts contrast with fertile green orchards and laid-back hill statios.
in May 1949 the newly established communist government of China decided to liberate the downtrodden Tibetan masses by taking over their country. This was based on the premise that both nations were once part of Mongol empire. The People’s Liberation Army martched into Lhasa, beginning a brutal regime which left 1.2 millio Tibetans dead and countless others imprisoned in forced-labour capms. Since 1949 some 90% of the nation’s religious institutions have been destroyed in the name of revolution ad any pro-independent sparks ruthlessly snuffed out.
Fearing for his life and those of his people, the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dlai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, went into exile i 1959.
accompanied by a small entourage, the Dalai Lama arrived in India on foot after trekking for weeks across the Himalaya. Since then, some 250’000 Tibetans have followed in his footsteps settling in Dharmasala, Darjeeling and other mountain communities, Others have set up communities in other countries.
The exiled Tibetan government was granted political asylum in Gangchen Kyishong, below McLeod Ganj which has become the headquarters for a 40-year-plus struggle for liberation. Tenzin Gyatso was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1989 for his efforts to find a peaceful solution for the liberation of Tibet.
China continues to resist attempts at dialogue over the Tibet issue, despite the Dalai Lama now formally advocating his ‘Middle Way’ approach of Tibetan autonomy within China, rather than a return to full independence __ a policy not without critics among both the exile community and inside Tibet itself. With the awarding of the 2008 Olympics to Beijing, and China’s increasing political and economic influence, many now fear for the future of the Free Tibet Movement. The Tibet Museum in the Tsuglagkhang Complex has extensive displays telling the tragic story of the Chinese occupation.
Source, Lonley Planet, latest edition