The prayer circuit

Om mani padme hum

Prayer wheels at the Namgyal Monastery in Dharamshala receive a near constant stream of attention.

The wheels, typically containing a scroll covered with repetitions of the Tibetan Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, are turned as one walks by. One revolution of the wheel is considered equivalent to reciting the mantra as many times it’s scrawled on paper inside.

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Prayer hike

Walk with God

Taking a walk with prayer beads around Namgyal Monastery in Dharamshala.

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Waving in the spiritual breeze

Buddhist prayer flags

On the hillside surrounding the Namgyal Monastery in Dharamshala, pilgrims routinely ply a forest path. The trail circles past numerous shrines and thickets covered in praying stones and colored flags.

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Beads for monks

Monks have to haggle in the market, too

In the market leading up to Dharamshala’s Namgyal Monastery, the spiritual home of the Dalai Lama in exile, a fierce debate breaks out, not over theology or discipline, but the price of prayer beads.

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Chalo bache, puja karo

Idhar aao beti

The Golden Temple is an all-ages pilgrimage site. And the kids are pretty damn cute. See below.

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Marching faithful

Prayer hip shot

Amritsar’s Harmandir Sahib — more commonly known as the Golden Temple — sees a steady stream of pilgrims who come to Sikhism’s holiest grounds to pray. It’s a nonstop flow of worshipers.

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Contemplating faith and beauty

Man and temple reflect

A man pauses at the Golden Temple, the Harmandir Sahib, in Amritsar. The beautiful complex of white marble, reflecting water, glistening gold and marching pilgrims is Sikhism’s holiest site and something stunning to behold.

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Pull ‘er over for a quick prayer

A roadside shrine on the “highway” from Kesroli back to Delhi.

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Good luck birds

A flock of pigeons, fed often for good luck and other auspicious reasons, in Old Delhi.

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Qawwali, down at the dargah

Wild music in the dark

Thursday nights, the dargah of Sufi saint Nizamuddin comes alive in Delhi. Qawwali players sing and rock a harmonium, tabla and more. It draws a crowd who come both for the music and to pay respect to the shrine itself.

The story of Nizamuddin is long and worth a read. But he’s one of the most famous Sufi saints who challenged his people and emperors alike.

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