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After 60 years in exile, Dalai Lama's still remembered in his homeland

Updated : March 13, 2019 03:11 PM IST

It may have been six decades since the Dalai Lama fled into exile, but in the isolated mountain hamlet where he was born, he remains very much on the minds of devotees and Chinese authorities alike.

On the northeastern edge of the Tibetan plateau, Taktser, in Qinghai province, where the Dalai Lama was born in 1935 to parents who farmed buckwheat and barley, is a magnet to worshippers and foreign tourists - and security personnel.

During a recent Reuters visit to Taktser, known in Chinese as Hongya, police armed with automatic weapons blocked the winding road leading into the village of some 60 houses.

Police and more than a dozen plain-clothed officials who declined to identify themselves refused Reuters entry, saying the village was private and not open to the public.

Born Lhamo Thondup, the Dalai Lama was just two years old when identified by a search party as the new incarnation of Tibet's most important spiritual leader, and was whisked from the family home to live in Lhasa.

The anniversary of his escape over the mountains into exile in India is one of several politically sensitive dates in China this year, including the 30th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in June, that the ruling Communist Party wants to ensure passes without controversy.

As the Dalai Lama ages, many Tibetans fear that Beijing will simply appoint its own replacement.

The Dalai Lama has suggested that his incarnation might be found outside Chinese-controlled territory, or that the centuries-old Dalai Lama institution could die with him.

Buddhist monks sit outside a prayer hall at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks sit outside a prayer hall at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks rest outside a prayer hall between chanting sessions at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks rest outside a prayer hall between chanting sessions at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks enter a prayer hall at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks enter a prayer hall at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks leave Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks leave Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetans circle a temple as part of a prayer ritual at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetans circle a temple as part of a prayer ritual at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks enter a prayer hall at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Buddhist monks enter a prayer hall at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Tibetan man prostrates himself in prayer as he circles the Tibetan Buddhist Kumbum Monastery outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Tibetan man prostrates himself in prayer as he circles the Tibetan Buddhist Kumbum Monastery outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Buddhist monk walks outside Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Buddhist monk walks outside Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetan men leave Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetan men leave Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Buddhist monk arrives late for a prayer session at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Buddhist monk arrives late for a prayer session at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
People walk in a street near Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
People walk in a street near Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetans circle a temple as part of a prayer ritual at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetans circle a temple as part of a prayer ritual at Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Monks walk in the Tibetan Buddhist Kumbum Monastery outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Monks walk in the Tibetan Buddhist Kumbum Monastery outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Shop owners carry Tibetan Buddhist metal figures into their workshop near Kumbum Monastery outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Shop owners carry Tibetan Buddhist metal figures into their workshop near Kumbum Monastery outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Tibetan man prostrates himself in prayer as he circles the Tibetan Buddhist Kumbum Monastery outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Tibetan man prostrates himself in prayer as he circles the Tibetan Buddhist Kumbum Monastery outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A monk circles the Tibetan Buddhist Kumbum Monastery during a prayer ritual outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A monk circles the Tibetan Buddhist Kumbum Monastery during a prayer ritual outside Xining, Qinghai province, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Tibetan woman carrying a child looks at clothes in a shop in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A Tibetan woman carrying a child looks at clothes in a shop in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetans walk in a street near Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetans walk in a street near Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetan men stand in a street near Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetan men stand in a street near Rongwo Monastery in the largely ethnic Tibetan town of Rebkong, Qinghai province, China March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tibetans shout slogans as they stand on a police barricade during a protest held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, India March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Tibetans shout slogans as they stand on a police barricade during a protest held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, India March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
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