Approximately 2,500 Tibetans make their illegal crossing through the Himalayas each year. They often hire guides who transport them in overpacked clandestine trucks, travel by night and make their final stop 100 km from the border. They continue by foot for over a week through the treacherous conditions of the mountains only to be met by Chinese border patrols who fire at will.
The voyage is a pilgrimage to many. Those who make it visit Lumbini, birthplace of the Buddha in Nepal, and continue towards the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, India.
The "Temple of the Great Awakening" is particularly important to Buddhists since it hosts the sacred fig tree that sheltered Siddartha Gautama while he obtained enlightenment. Pilgrims spend days meditating by the Boddhi tree before heading to McLeod Ganj, a town known as "Little Lhasa".
As the people of Tibet and their history continues to be systematically eradicated by Chinese policies, their only hope is to preserve their culture through their language and traditions. Thankfuly, McLeod Ganj welcomes and encourages them to protect and share their culture and traditions.
"Every breath is an immediate manifestation of the human condition."
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