A day with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

New Delhi: It’s not everyday that one gets to follow His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he makes his presence felt in eight different places of prayer in Delhi as a tribute to India on the occasion of his 50 years in exile.

We have the list of places that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is visiting and our very first stop is the Gandhi Smriti — the place where Mahatma Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life.

 His Holiness the Dalai Lama sits down with muslim elders at the Nizamuddin Chilla shrine/CNN
His Holiness the Dalai Lama sits down with muslim elders at the Nizamuddin Chilla shrine/CNN

As we make our way inside the well-kept premises, devotional Indian music floats through the early morning sunlight and hazy blue skies. Despite the early hour and it being a working day, there is more than a smattering of people to witness His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s presence in this revered place.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s arrival creates a slight frenzy as media folks rush to capture his every move and visitors eagerly crane their neck to take a look. After paying tribute at Gandhi’s memorial, His Holiness sits down on the sheet spread over the grass to enjoy a few minutes of the music.

Despite us rushing to get the right shots and the correct sound, one can’t help but notice how peaceful this place feels amidst all the greenery. After His Holiness the Dalai Lama graciously thanks the musicians, he heads for his next stop — an Ashram devoted to the cause of non-violence.

Meanwhile, we drive down to a Muslim shrine known as Nizamuddin Chilla located in central Delhi, the third stop on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s tour. Named after a Sufi saint, this place is nestled right behind another famous monument, the Mughal emperor Humayun’s tomb. Walking up the stairs the place feels lost in time, like we just stumbled back into a different century. A reminder of our current situation comes in the form of tight security.

We are frisked and our equipment is checked. As a mark of respect everyone has to remove their shoes before entering this holy place.

When His Holiness arrives, he is greeted by the shrine elders and presented with the Islamic prayer cap. As the media crowds around the leaders to get a good shot, Sanjiv, our cameraman, mounts a short ladder we usually carry with our gear to get a bird’s eye view.

In a sit down with all the visitors and the religious leaders, the shrine elders heap praise on the spiritual leader for promoting peace. His Holiness the Dalai Lama praises Islam as an ancient religion which has much to contribute to the world. In a sit-down interview with our correspondent Sara Sidner yesterday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was quick to offer his views on the religion.

Our fourth stop for the day is the Judah Hyam Synagogue. The Synagogue is crowded with worshippers and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is given a warm welcome and a prayer is offered. Our next stop is the Sikh Temple, also known as the Gurudwara Rakab Ganj. Again, we leave our shoes at the entrance as a mark of respect and also cover our head with a scarf.

As we hurry to our next stop, Sara forgets to wear her shoes! With little time left we make a dash to cover His Holiness the Dalai Lama at The Cathedral church of Redemption.
Our final stop is at the Buddhist Society and the Laxmi Narayan Hindu Temple, both situated side-by-side. Security at the temple is more stringent than any of the other place of worship.

Covering His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he visits different places in the city in quick succession has been tricky but we just had to make sure we made it on time, despite the Delhi traffic. No easy task.

One can’t help but marvel at His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s energy.

–Reproduced from online edition of CNN. Reporting by Bharati Naik, CNN Field Producer