What to bring
• A photocopy of your passport, Indian visa and one passport picture. Please have these with you when you arrive in Thosamling. (You may wish to bring several passport photos, as many places in India require them for purchases such as SIM cards.)
• Warm clothing that can be worn in layers
• A shawl/blanket (Shawls are cheap and available in McLeod-Ganj.)
• A mosquito net and/or mosquito repellent during monsoon season July – September.
• For your own convenience bring an electric kettle with you to make hot water for tea or coffee in your room. (You can also buy them in Dharamsala).
• Please dress respectfully. We are a nunnery, and our staff are Indian men who are not used to women wearing open-shouldered tops, or singlets. If you wear them please cover with a blouse.
• An umbrella or rainwear is advisable during the monsoon months
• A torch (flashlight) and extra batteries are useful during power cuts
• It is handy to have your own water bottle. Filtered water is available in our dining hall and out of concern for the environment, we strongly discourage our residents from buying water in plastic bottles.
• Earplugs can be useful. Normally it is very quiet in Thosamling but occasionally during wedding season it can be noisy for an evening or two.
•Your own bath towel and toiletries Toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorants sanitary pads and tampons are available in India, but they are usually of inferior quality to Western standards, so you may want to bring these items with you.
For more information, please contact us at [email protected].
Health and Travel Issues
As we get many visitors, everyone’s health is of great concern to us and we will help you with all the information and assistance we can. We keep a first aid kit and an array of medical supplies on the premises for minor things such as headaches, colds, diarrhea, dehydration, and minor cuts and burns.
But we must stress that we cannot offer specific medical advice and we cannot nurse you when you are sick. We can provide general care, but if the sickness is severe or lingering you will have to seek help from medical professionals. We are not doctors or medical experts. We can, however, direct you to the closest and most appropriate hospital or medical facility, depending on your condition.
Medical care is available nearby and is extremely inexpensive by Western standards. Hospitals we recommend in the area include Shree Balaji Hospital in Kangra (http://www.themodernhospitals.co.in/general_hospital/Shree_Balaji_Hospital_Kangra.html), which is excellent for general care, and for surgeries, in nearby Pathankot there is Raavi Speciality Hospital http://raavihospital.com/raswan.html. For broken bones the Orthopedic Hospital in Nagrota is quite good. There is also a Government Medical College in Kangra. For top-class surgical facilities people go mostly to Delhi or Chandigarh. There are also many local doctors and pharmacies offering Tibetan, Auyurvedic, and Homeopathic medicine.
You must take care of your own health and welfare as much as possible. Before you come to India and while you are here, take sensible precautions. Medicines mentioned on Western websites are not always effective in India as bacteria or other germs can be resistant to those medicines. Even with seemingly simple stomach problems and/or diarrhea it is best to do a stool test and get accurate diagnosis. Seeing a local doctor or good pharmacist can help you to get the right medications.
Other helpful health information:
• For those of you who like to be really prepared, consider carrying a small travel health guidebook with you (Lonely Planet publishes a very handy and inexpensive one) and a small medical kit (see your guidebook for tips on what to include). • One must take precautions with drinking water in India. While bottled water is available here, it is not recommended as the non-recyclable plastic waste causes tremendous trash problems. It is best to bring your own water bottle for filling with filtered water. At Thosamling our drinking water is filtered four times and is perfectly safe to drink. • Basic first aid supplies and medications such as band-aids, paracetamol (similar to aspirin), oral rehydration solutions, and antibiotics are readily available at local pharmacies. • If you take prescription medicines, you should bring more than enough to last through your trip and a copy of your prescription. • If you wear glasses, you may want to bring an extra pair or at least carry your prescription with you as replacements can be made very cheaply in India. • Sanitary pads and tampons are available here, but they are quite expensive and sometimes of inferior quality to Western versions so you may want to bring supplies of these items with you. We can highly recommend re-usable menstrual care options such the Mooncup. Our eco-friendly female volunteers say “an invaluable addition to any female traveler’s backpack! It took a bit of getting used to, but I wouldn’t use anything else now”. The problem of pollution caused by sanitary protection is so much more evident here, where toilet paper and pads are dumped down hillsides or burnt in the open. • To date, there have never been any instances of Malaria in this area.
Personal Safety in India
Personal safety is a common concern for travelers. India is an amazing country and most Indian people are very hospitable and helpful. Crime and violence in Sidhpur, McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala are relatively rare. The vast majority of travelers have no safety problems while travelling in this area. However there have been occasional robberies and isolated instances of violence against women.
Therefore we recommend you apply the same common sense in India that you would use at home; watch your bags and secure your room when going out. Always carry your passport and valuables in a money belt on your body and inside your clothing. Be especially watchful in airports, train stations and on public transport. Be vigilant and do not walk alone in isolated areas at night. At Thosamling we ask all residents to be in the Nunnery before dark or 6 pm, whichever comes first.
It is advisable to keep a copy of your visa and passport and other specific documents with you at all times, and send a scan of these documents via email to yourself.
When you arrive from Delhi airport, there are several options to come to Dharamsala, you can travel by Airplane, train or bus.
By Airplane from Delhi.
After arriving in Indira Gandi airport, you don’t go to the domestic airport, as the flights to Dharamsala will go from terminal nr. 3. When you walk out of the airport, you go directly to the right site. There are elevators going to the first floor, from there you enter the departure section. If you are to early there will be a waiting room . Indian Airlines and Spice Jet will fly daily on Dharamsala. The flights from Indian Airlines will go at 9.45 in the morning. Sometimes there are delays, especially in the monsoon time, as the weather should be clear in Kangra where you land on Gaggal airport. From there you can take a taxi to Thosamling for about 600 rs. You can also call us (9816141830) and ask us to pick you up from the airport. Prices of airtickets vary a lot depending on how early in advance you book, it can be from 4000 rs to 12.000 rs for the same flight. See website : www.airindia.in and www.spicejet.com
By Train from Delhi.
Trains go from Delhi to Pathankot, or Chakkibank. It will take 12 hours to arrive in these places and from there you can take a taxi to Dharamsala, it will take you about 2 hours. The price will be around 2500 to 3000rs. Or you can take the local bus for much cheaper. By bus it will take you about 3 hours. From Dharamsala you can take a taxi to Thosamling for about 400 rs. Take the local bus, direction Palampur, Yol, Sidhpur. You have to go out at Sidhpur what is not SIDHBARI, as this is the residence place of His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa. It is good to visit him one day, but not on that moment. Taxi drivers often make the mistake that westerners all go to see him and bring the person directly there. Best is to make clear that you have to go to Sidhpur, Blossom Resort which is a place very near to Thosamling. From there you have to walk for about 10 minutes on the little concrete path through the ricefields to reach Thosamling. We don’t have a proper road to our Nunnery. When you are at Blossom Resort you can call Shashi our Officeworker 9816141830 and she will arrange some staff to help you with the luggage.
By Bus/or Taxi from Delhi.
Daily busses leave from Manjuka Tila the Tibetan settlement in Delhi around 6.00pm to 6.30pm. The price for a bus is around 700 to 1200 rs. It will take you 12 hours but if you are a good sleeper in busses it is not that bad. The bus arrive first in Dharamsala where you have to go off the bus. Behind the bus are taxies waiting to bring you to your destination.
You have to go out at Sidhpur (what is not SIDHBARI, as this is the residence place of His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa). Taxi drivers often make the mistake that westerners all go to see him and bring the person directly there. Best is to make clear that you have to go to Sidhpur, Blossom Resort which is a place very near to Thosamling. From there you have to walk for about 10 minutes on the path through the ricefields to reach Thosamling. We don’t have a proper road to our Nunnery, only a little tiny concrete walkingpath. When you are at Blossom Resort you can call us +91 9816141830 and we can send some staff to help you with the luggage.