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India

Napping in Dharmasala

A man dozes off in his small shop in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Dharamsala, which means “spiritual dwelling” or “sanctuary”, is a town at the foot of the Himalayas. At 1457m altitude, it is fresh in the summer, attracting foreign and Indian tourists alike escaping the stuffiness of Delhi or the South.

Historically, Dharamsala was ruled by the Katosh dynasty, the oldest serving royal family in the world. The people of Dharamsala and the surrounding areas were the Gaddi, a hindu nomadic or semi-nomadic tribe that moved with their herds. But the British annexed the area and created a base for the famous Nepalese Ghurkas there. Later, with the invasion of Tibet by China in 1950, thousands of Tibetans fled to Dharamsala. The Dalai-Lama is now based in the Dharamsala suburb of MacLeod Ganj. The changes the town and the area have undergone mean the Gaddi are now struggling to maintain their lifestyle and language.