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A favoured spot of foreign tourists, McLeod Ganj was named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab. The British moved the cantonment from Kangra town to McLeodganj in 1849.
A suburb of Dharamshala in Kangra district, McLeodganj is the abode of the Dalai Lama. An estimated 80,000 Tibetans, along with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, arrived in India in 1959 after an unsuccessful uprising against Chinese rule. With this Tibetan settlements, Mcleadganj emerged as a major Buddhist centre. One can see the 14th Dalai Lama here. The hillstation also has a number of religious educational centers and rehabilitation centers. One can buy Tibetan carpets, jackets, thangkas, ponchos, masks, trinkets, lamps, chubas, prayer wheels and flags, etc from the McLeodGanj main bazar.
Dalai Lama Temple Complex
The Dalai Lama temple complex is just a short walk from the Mcleod Ganj bus stand in upper Dharamsala. The temple complex is open daily, from sunrise to sunset. The complex houses the Namgyal Monastery , the main temple Tsug-Lag-Khang, Dalai Lama’s residence and administrative offices. The Dalai's Lama's Residence is opposite Tsug-Lag-Khang about a 10 mt walk from McLeod Ganj. His Holiness regularly receives visitors for public audiences. For an appointment for a private audience with the Dalai Lama, reserve advance to The Office of Tibet, 241 E 32nd Street, New York, NY- 10016. There is also a small café and a guesthouse in this complex.
Tsug-Lag-Khang (Central Cathedral)
It is the main temple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The temple is similar to the original Tsuglakhang, the main temple in Lhasa. Each March, the Dalai Lama gives 10 days of free public teachings at Tsug-Lag-Khang. For this no need to register in advance.One can see a sand mandala in progress. A collection of sacred texts, direct teachings of Buddha etc can be seen here. In this temple one can see impressive statue of glided Shakamuni Buddha rising 9 feet from a lotus seat, Padmasambhava ( the Indian yogi who introduced Buddhism to Tibet) and Avalokitesvara or Chenresig, of whom the Dalai Lama is considered to be the current emanation.
One can see thousands of Buddhist monks and Tibetans-in-exile were seen gathering at the temple and paying homage to those who sacrificed their lives in the struggle. Note that visitors should remove shoes and walk clockwise around the temple and past the chorten (prayer wheels) before sitting down.
It is a memorial to the Tibetans who died fighting in their homeland. It is built in a hybrid Indo-Tibetan style with rows of prayer wheels.
Dal Lake is 11 km from Dharamsala. One of the famous attraction in Dharmsala, the lake is considered as a sacred to locals. The lake has a small Shiva temple on its banks. It is a common belief that the dip in this holy lake will bring blesses of Lord Shiva. Surrounded by deep green Deodar forests, the annual fair held every year in September on the banks of the Lake is a major attraction to the tourists. It also serves as a best base camp for trekkers in Dharamsala and Mcleod Ganj. It is a beautiful walk to the lake from the McLeodGanj town.
Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA)
About a 15 minute walk from McLeod Ganj, TIPA gives
public performances of the musical, dance and theatrical traditions of
Tibet. It also conducts a 10-day Annual Shoton Festival which includes
performances by TIPA.
Church of St John-in-the-Wilderness
This charming church of St. John was the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British Viceroy of India in the 19th Century. Lies amidst deodar tress, it is situated 7-km upward from Dharamsala, between Forsyth Ganj and Mcleod Ganj. It was built in 1852, but along with other buildings in the area, it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1905 and in 1929, the church was reconstructed. The Church has an attractive Belgian stained glass windows donated by Lady Elgin wife of the former viceroy. Lord Elgin. His body was buried in the church cemetery and a memorial was erected by his widow on the spot where he was buried. The church has several memorial tablets and a well-tended old graveyard. Now the Church is a protected monument by the ASI.
Visiting hours for church and cemetery: 10 am - 5 pm daily.