Saturday, 8 December 2018

Things to do in Mcleodganj: The Kora Circuit

I have been visiting Mcleodganj since the year 1987 but somehow had been unaware of one important facet of the Buddhist tradition – the Kora. Kora is a form of pilgrimage wherein you circumambulate a holy site (Parikrama in the Hindu tradition). In Mcleodganj Buddhist, young and old, take the Kora circuit around the hill that has the residence of Dalai Lama and the monastery and therefore considered holy. Surprisingly it is little known.

The Kora in Mcleodganj

This tradition on circumambulation is common in both Buddhism and Bon. However, in Buddhism the walk in a circle is clockwise whereas in Bon it is counter clockwise. Two famous Kora are the Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar.

Huge prayer flags on the Kora route, Mcleodganj

The route in Mcleodganj is well paved and away from the town’s honking traffic amidst pine and deodar forest. The route has stringed prayer flags small and large. Buddhists believe that the fluttering of the flags carries the prayers written on them onwards.

The Kora route has benches placed all along for people to take rest

If one gets tired then one can sit down on one of the benches lined up along the route. The older people do sit down to take rest and chant prayers.

Prayer wheels of all sizes on the Kora route in Mcleodganj

The path is lined with prayer wheels in different sizes. Some are made of metal; others are of wood. Some are very small and look antique as if they have been brought from Tibet while there are others that maybe be 8-10 feet in height. The prayer wheels are always on the right side of the devotee.

A Tibetan lady at the prayer wheels on the Kora in Mcleodganj

On the Kora route there are stones carved with the Buddhist prayer Om Mani Padme Hum. The stones are in various sizes and some of them are brightly painted.

Artistically carved stones with Om Mani Padme Hum written on them on the Kora in Mcleodganj

Apart from the serenity and the beauty of the path, the dense forest is a paradise for the birdwatchers. I saw several birds and one could spend several hours just observing them.

Kora route in Mcleodganj is a Birdwatchers paradise 

Langurs come down the mountains in winters and one comes across them in this area. Unlike monkeys they do not trouble people. They are busy with themselves.

Langurs preening each other on the Kora route in Mcleodganj

I liked the Kora circuit so much that I performed the Kora twice in three days. I thank my Tibetan friend who introduced the Kora to me and took me around explaining things on the first visit.

Prayer flags and prayer wheels on the Kora in Mcleodganj 

This route is, fortunately, little known to most tourists and therefore not crowded.  There is something special about it.

Wind carrying the prayers written on the flags

The cleanliness is impressive. Jute bags function as dustbins.

The serene Kora route in Mcleodganj

All in all the best part of McLeodganj, for the devout as well as the curious tourist.

Also read:
Bon Monastery in Himachal
Places to visit in McLeodganj: Bhagsunag Waterfall
McLeodganj, Dharamshala, Himachal
Why I love to go to McLeodganj
Skywatch Friday - Sunset at McLeodganj, Himachal
Places to visit in McLeodganj: The Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness

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