Norbulingka: the “driving school” The Dalai Lama

The summer palace of the highest spiritual authority of Buddhism, the "Jewel Park", is the antithesis of the city-fortress of the Potala. In the walled garden outside the current Dalai Lama Lhasa, Tenzin Gyatso, learned to drive in two and a Dodge Austin as his predecessor did bring in pieces across the Himalayas to the astonishment of people who lived at anchor in the Middle Ages.

It is one of the many stories you hear about the Norbulingka, but it is very instructive for understanding the abysmal distance, not only spiritual, separating the Dalai Lama from the rest of the Tibetans. China's official propaganda always emphasize is responsible for: for Beijing, Tibet was a kingdom that had to rescue the Middle Ages. And one, which is notoriously critical of the outcome of this effort, justice must recognize that the land of snow was a dead end. On one side, a demigod who practiced at the wheel, had their needs in French toilets, asleep listening to the radio and European-style beds. On the other, a people resigned to their ancestral delay subject to a more typical of twentieth-century feudalism. Successive Dalai Lama, spiritual authority but also political, did nothing for the dignity of his subjects, created over the centuries, the breeding ground for intervention china that, go ahead if it is not clear, neither agree nor justified (that the Middle Ages that China sought to redeem the Tibetan is still very present in many villages in the remote mountains of western make-up of the old Lhasa).

The "Jewel Park" consists of two square kilometers of walled palaces, large pools, ponds and even a zoo. A perfect place to learn to drive.

But I wanted to tell a funny story, the three luxury cars in the heart of Tibet in the early twentieth century. To that I. The Norbulingka is ten minutes from downtown, in the western part of the city. Every year, at the beginning of spring, the Dalai Lama, with his Government, personal guard service, moved with great pomp the Potala to Norbulingka to the veneration of his subjects, that not even dare to look into his eyes.

Founded in the mid eighteenth century, the "Jewel Park" (that means in Tibetan Norbulingka) consists of two square kilometers walled palaces, large pools, ponds and even a zoo. A perfect place to learn to drive.

Tells Heinrich Harrer in his famous "Seven Years in Tibet". The thirteenth Dalai Lama, predecessor of the present and who defines it as "a lover of modernism" (almost sarcastic irony in a country without an iota of progress), is infatuated with a car. Harrer knew him after escaping from a British prison camp in India, incidents that would lead to his movie book:

Un day, to unsettled religious, ordered to bring three cars Lhasa. The cars were cleared to cross the Himalayas on the backs of men and the backs of yaks and then reassembled piece by piece by a mechanic trained in India, which, in return, he was appointed official driver "

There were two Dodge Austin and evil beings that must have seemed surprised to Tibetans. The Dalai Lama, Harrer account, "After making his entrance with great pomp in the capital back from his summer palace, Once through the door of the Potala was no more urgent thing to do to get into one of their cars and, secret, be driving back to Borbulingka "
For his successor, Tenzin Gyatso, not go unnoticed. Cast aside and eaten by dust in a corner of Norbulingka, ITV is an urgent need. There were only two Tibetans in Lhasa and drive them to know they were responsible for repair. Explains Javier Moro in his splendid "Mountains of the Buddha", the current Dalai Lama is secretly leading them solace by the Norbulingka. Apparently, their inexperience left its mark on some trees and flower beds.

A drink of chang

Admission is about 25 yuan. The most interesting of the visit is to look at the old rooms of the Dalai Lama (although most are closed to public). Each was furnished to different decoration charges (English style, Chinese, Indian…). Yes you can enter that used by the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism when China's invasion, which is preserved as he left, Soviet radio to listen worried that the news from Beijing while their medieval kingdom evaporated. I said, surprised to see a modern toilet in a country where, still, some Tibetans continue to make their needs open squatting.

In a small chapel there is a plastic bottle filled chang, Tibetan beer (artisan brewing barley). I can Curiosity. Our guide guessed my intentions and invited me to try it. Bethlehem can not conceal an expression of disapproval. I make a pot with Tenzing hands and pours some chang. Know-ray. Definitely, will not swell the sentimental memory of my weaknesses alcoholic.

It was precisely at the Norbulingka where the Dalai Lama on duty, on the evidence of dire omens, sitting in lotus position to wait for death looking south as devotees came to bid him farewell

The Norbulingka consists of four palaces: VIII and XIII of the Dalai Lama, the New Summer Palace (built by the current Dalai Lama among 1954 and 1956) and small Kelsang Dekyi Palace, also raised by the thirteenth Dalai Lama and now closed. Or, also, a zoo that housed pheasants, deer and peacocks; a lake and gardens of French inspiration. Everything was severely damaged by the Chinese batteries after the riots in Lhasa after the flight of the Dalai Lama.

Today, coinciding with the seventh lunar month, Lhasa's neighbors take the park to celebrate the Sunday plan festival Shotün, which represent "operas" Tibetan who enjoy great prestige.

The tradition says that was precisely the Norbulingka where the Dalai Lama on duty, on the evidence of dire omens, sitting in lotus position to wait for death looking south as devotees came to bid him farewell. I prefer to leave of Norbulingka lying on the grass of the landscaped gardens in position Sunday nap, making plans for our impending departure path of Everest base camp and raising to heaven my prayers to the gods of the mountains summit clouds cleared. This is what has crossed half the world in search of an image so often dreamed: items (which fortunately did not engage in any travel agency) need not necessarily be on your side and therein lies, largely, Travel magic.

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