Life in McLeod Ganj revolves around this Buddhist temple complex, linked to the off-limits private residence of the Dalai Lama. A good example of Buddhism's spiritual and artistic traditions, the complex comprises Namgyal Monastery and Tsuglakhang Temple, both worth a visit if you're keen to get a sense of active lamaistic practice. In the outside courtyard, you'll often witness monks debating or meditatively preparing colorful sand mandalas, diagrams that symbolize the universe and are used in the ritual of spiritual empowerment known as the kalachakra ceremony, after which the meticulous designs are destroyed. The gompa houses various cultural relics brought from Lhasa during the Cultural Revolution, including a 1,500-year-old idol of Guru Padmasambhav, and a life-size image of Avalokiteshvara, of whom the Dalai Lama is believed to be an incarnation. Public appearances by the Dalai Lama occur from time to time; consult the local authorities for information. The complex courtyard is the venue for an all-day festival of traditional dance held in honor of His Holiness's birthday on July 6, although the Dalai Lama is not always in attendance on this auspicious day. It's worthwhile to take a break from the prayer wheels and settle in at the tiny, laid-back Nyamgal Café in the temple complex which serves as a vocational training opportunity for young Tibetans. Snag the window-side table for beautiful views over the valley below.