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McLeod Ganj

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McLeod Ganj

McLeod Ganj
मकलाॅड गंज
McLeodGanj, McLeodganj, Mcllo
View of McLeod Ganj town
View of McLeod Ganj town
Nickname(s): Little Lhasa, or Dhasa
McLeod Ganj is located in Himachal Pradesh
McLeod Ganj
McLeod Ganj
Location in Himachal Pradesh, India
Country  India
State Himachal Pradesh
District Kangra
Elevation 2,004 m (6,575 ft)
 • Total 11,000 (approx)
 • Official Hindi
 • Other English, Tibetan, Pahari
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 176219
Telephone code 01892
Website McLeod

McLeod Ganj (also spelt McLeodGanj or Mcleodganj) is a suburb of Dharamshala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is known as "Little Lhasa" or "Dhasa" (a short form of Dharamshala used mainly by Tibetans) because of its large population of Tibetans.[1] The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeod Ganj.

It has an average elevation of 2,082 metres (6,831 feet). It is situated on the Dhauladhar Range, whose highest peak, "Hanuman Ka Tibba", at about 5,639 metres (18,500 feet), lies just behind it.


McLeod Ganj was named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab; the suffix ganj is a common Hindi word for "neighbourhood".[2][3][4]


Nowrojee & Sons' shop with Mrs Nowrojee in 1980

In March 1850, the area was annexed by the British after the Second Anglo-Sikh War, and soon a subsidiary cantonment for the troops stationed at Kangra was established on the slopes of Dhauladhar, on empty land, with a Hindu resthouse or dharamshala; hence the name for the new cantonment, Dharamshala. During the British rule in India, the town was a hill station where the British spent hot summers, and around the late 1840s, when the district headquarters in Kangra became overcrowded, the British moved two regiments to Dharamshala. A cantonment was established in 1849, and in 1852 Dharamshala became the administrative capital of Kangra district. By 1855 it had two important places of civilian settlement, McLeod Ganj and Forsyth Ganj, named after a Divisional Commissioner.[5] In 1860, the 66th Gurkha Light Infantry, later renamed the historic 1st Gurkha Rifles, was moved to Dharamshala. Soon 14 Gurkha paltan villages were established nearby and the Gurkhas patronised the ancient Shiva temple of Bhagsunath.

"Shoe Doctor", McLeod Ganj, H.P., India. 2010

Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India (1862–63), liked the area so much that at one point he suggested it be made the summer capital of India. He died at Dharamshala while on a tour there, on 20 November 1863, and lies buried at the St. John in the Wilderness at Forsyth Ganj, just below McLeod Ganj.[5] His summer residence, Mortimer House, became part of the private estate of Lala Basheshar Nath of Lahore and was acquired by the Government of India to house the official residence of the Dalai Lama. The original Tea House built by Lord Elgin and catered to by a local grocery store called Nowrojee & Son continues to prosper to this date as a hangout for visitors to McLeodGanj.

The twin towns of Forsyth Ganj and McLeod Ganj continued to grow steadily in the coming years, and by 1904 had become important centres of trade, commerce and official work of Kangra District. But much of the town was destroyed by the devastating 7.8 magnitude 1905 Kangra earthquake at 6:19 am 4 April 1905; close to 19,800 people were killed and thousands were injured in the Kangra area. The earthquake destroyed most buildings in Kangra, Dharamshala, and McLeod Ganj; even the Bhagsunath Temple was destroyed.[6] Thereafter district headquarters were shifted to a lower spot, and the town waited another half century before anything significant transpired in its history.[7][8]

In March 1959, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled to India after the failed uprising in 1959 in Tibet against the Communist Party of China. The Indian Government offered him refuge in Dharamshala, where he set up the Government of Tibet in exile in 1960, while McLeod Ganj became his official residence and also home to several Buddhist monasteries and thousands of Tibetan refugees.[9] Over the years, McLeod Ganj evolved into an important tourist and pilgrimage destination, and has since grown substantially in population.

McLeod Ganj got its own website in 2013, according to a Times of India report.[10]


The nearest airport is Gaggal Airport, 15 km from Dharamshala.
The nearest railway stations on the narrow-gauge Kangra Valley Railway line are at Kangra and Nagrota (about 20 km south of Dharamshala). The nearest railhead (broad gauge) is at Pathankot (85 km).


Dhalaudhar peak from McLeod Ganj cafe
Prayer Wheels at 'Tsuglagkhang Temple', McLeod Ganj.

Tourism is an important industry in McLeod Ganj, but many people come here to study Tibetan Buddhism, culture, crafts, etc. The town is also known for Tibetan handicrafts, thangkas, Tibetan carpets, garments and other souvenirs.

Tibetan sites

The most important Buddhist site in the town is Tsuglagkhang or Tsuglag Khang, the Dalai Lama's temple. It has statues of Shakyamuni, Avalokiteśvara, and a statue of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche).

Other Buddhist and Tibetan sites in McLeod Ganj include the Namgyal Monastery, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts,[11] Gompa Dip Tse-Chok Ling (a small monastery), the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Gangchen Kyishong (called Gangkyi for short by Tibetans and the premises of the Tibetan government-in-exile), Mani Lakhang Stupa, Nechung Monastery, and Norbulingka Institute, which is 8 kilometres away. The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, lives near Dharamshala, in Gyuto monastery in Sidhbari.

Naam Art Gallery

Naam Art Gallery The exhibition in ‘NAAM ART GALLERY’ exhibits paintings by Elsbeth Buschmann - watercolours and acrylics - and oil paintings by Alfred W. Hallett. Elsbeth Buschmann, is a professional painter from Germany, having studied painting in London and Paris . She lived in many countries where she held exhibitions, especially in the USA where she received various awards. Her paintings are in private collections in Germany, USA, Scotland, India and Switzerland. In India she held solo exhibitions at AIFAX, New Delhi and TAG, the Art Gallery of the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. She also took part in ‘The Himalayan National Exhibition of Art’ and was awarded. Open 10am to 7.00pm (Monday Closed) Mobile 098160-43708

Other places

The major towns near McLeodGanj include Dharamshala, Palampur, Kangra, , Tatwani and Machhrial. Other nearby spiritual attractions include Chinmaya Tapovan (a Hindu retreat centre), Osho Nisarga (an Osho retreat centre), and Chamunda (a pilgrimage place for Hindus). Other tourist spots include:

Triund Hill
Triund jewel of Dharamshala is one-day trek about 9 kilometres from McLeod Ganj.
St. John in the Wilderness
An Anglican church located in the forest near Forsyth Ganj. The neo-Gothic stone building of the church was constructed in 1852. The site also has a memorial of the British Viceroy Lord Elgin, and an old graveyard. The church building is also noted for its Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin.
Dal Lake
A small lake located around three km from McLeodGanj, next one of the Tibetan Children's Villages schools. An annual fair is held here in August or September, and is attended mainly by the Gaddi Community. There is a small spring and an old temple near the lake.


Notes and references

  1. ^ Diehl, Keila (2002). Echoes from Dharamshala Music in the Life of a Tibetan.  
  2. ^ Dharamshala The Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 11, p. 301.
  3. ^ Experiment in Exile TIME Asia.
  4. ^ Other places which use this common suffix are: Darya Ganj, Pahar Ganj and Ghale Ganj.
  5. ^ a b History Kangra district Official website.
  6. ^ Dharamshala Earthquake 1905 - Images
  7. ^ Where the Dalai Lama Dwells New York Times, 29 April 1990.
  8. ^ McLeod Ganj
  9. ^ A Non-Profit Informative, Travel and Community website of Dharamshala, McLeod Ganj and Kangra Valley
  10. ^ TIC closed down, tourists left in the lurch, Times of India website, 19 July 2013.
  11. ^ "Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA)". Planning Commission NGO Database. Planning Commission, Government of India. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 

External links

  • Current information and upcoming events for McLeod Ganj, from McLeod Ganj.
  • McLeod Ganj travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • A Guide to Little Lhasa in India Government of Tibet in Exile website.
  • The New Lhasa Eateries review in Hindustan Times
  • Kangra photo gallery
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