Buddhism draws foreign tourists to Dharamsala

By Hemant Chauhan, ANI, July 13, 2007

Dharamsala, India -- Foreign tourists from across the world are making a beeline for Dharamsala to learn and practice Buddhism and its way of living.

Buddhists from across the globe, particularly Asian countries, gathered here to attend a spiritual discourse by Tibetan spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama's preachings are considered divine by his believers.

"We study Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan. And this time, we have 607 people here to attend his Holiness teachings. This year, it is very important because his Holiness is giving on the Bodhisattva vows," said Wan Yong Chung, a Buddhist tourist from Taiwan.

Tourists feel that the soothing effect of the Dalai Lama's teaching has an all embracing reach across the world.

Martina, an American tourist said Dharamsala was the perfect place to study Buddhism and Tibetan culture.

Also known as Mini Lhasa, Dharamsala, with its many monasteries, attracts over 600,000 foreign tourists annually.

Tourism is the mainstay of the state's economy. At least 100,000 tourists, both domestic and foreign, visit Himachal Pradesh during this season.

Prem Sagar, a travel agent, said that the Dalai Lama was undoubtedly the main attraction for visitors to the town.

"This is one major reason that it has attracted a large number of people from all over the world, particularly from the part of the Asian world," Sagar said.

Dharamsala, which is better known as the headquarters of the Dalai Lama, has over a period of time developed into a popular Buddhist centre.