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Dharamshala: His Holiness the Dalai Lama began his teaching tour of Himachal Pradesh this afternoon, with an address to thousands of devotees at Dhakpo Shedrup Ling monastery in Kais, District Kullu.

He was welcomed by around 3,000 followers, including the Dhakpo Rinpoche, Tibetan monks and lay people, and devotees from France, Singapore, Indonesia, Holland, Malaysia and India.

The 75-year-old Nobel laureate greeted the crowd with "Tashi delek" and commended Dhakpo Rinpoche's work on the monastery's development, together with its patrons' generous donations. He also urged Dhakpo's monks to work hard at their studies and practices, saying, "At this plight, if we Tibetans don't love and study Tibetan Buddhism and culture first, it is fundamental wrong."

His Holiness spoke on Tibetan Buddhism's ancient lineage, from Nalanda University in India, and outlined the three vehicles of Buddhist teachings: the Hinayana, Mah?y?na and Vajray?na. "The custom of Buddhist studies and practices, [as it] flourished in Tibet, is one of the best," he said.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will deliver a discourse on the development of the heart at the monastery then visit the handicraft centre of Tibetan Children's Village in Patlikuhl. His next stop will be Manali and, on August 19, he will confer the Heruka (Tibetan: Dechok) initiation in Jispa, Lahaul and Spiti district, with teachings the following day. He will then return to Manali to teach on Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo's 37 Practices of A Boddhisatva (Tibetan: Laklen Sodunma) on August 22.