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Thursday, January 21, 2021
Travel & Tourism

McLeod Ganj: Little Lhasa | Where India meets Tibet

Lucas Vallecillos

Named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, McLeod Ganj is the place where travelers come to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Lying in the suburbs of Dharamshala in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, McLeod Ganj overlooks the Dhauladhar Range.

The Viceroy of India (1862-63), Lord Elgin, fell in love with the place so much so that he suggested it to be made the summer capital of India. Just below the town of McLeod Ganj lies its twin sister, the town of Forsyth Ganj. The town is a traveller’s haven while housing people of several ethnicities. This also decorated the town with Tibetan crafts, monasteries, mesmerising views of mountains and a palette of cafes serving Indo-Italo-Israeli-Tibetan cuisines.


Built in 1969, with the central image of a gilded statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha, Tsuglagkhang is like an exiles’ concrete correspondent of the Jokhang temple in Lhasa. There are also gilded statues of Avalokitesvara (the bodhisattva of compassion), Tibet’s patron deity and Padmasambhava, the Indian sage who is believed to have helped spread Buddhism in 8th-century Tibet. Also a wooden ‘starving Buddha’ statue represents Buddha in his six final years of ascetic meditation at Bodhgaya.

Kalachakra Temple

On the west side of Tsuglagkhang lies the Kalachakra Temple that houses the enthralling murals of the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) mandala. This is said to be directly linked to Avalokitesvara, of whom the Dalai Lama chain is a manifestation. A fascinating phenomenon occurs here annually on the 15th day of the 3rd month of the Tibetan calendar, when coloured sand mandalas are created to adorn the temple.

St John in the Wilderness

Surrounded by tall cedar trees, this gloomy Gothic church speaks of McLeod Ganj’s British history. The church dates back to 1852 and lies 1.5km away from the town towards Forsyth Ganj. Another attraction of the church is the rocket-like tomb of the Earl of Elgin, 2nd Viceroy of India. Church services are still carried on every Sunday.

Bhagsu Waterfall

This majestic waterfall is situated near the Bhagsu village, almost 2 km away from McLeod Ganj. The village itself is a great attraction offering scenic views of the mountains and sitting 7000 feet above sea level. The main attraction for the travellers is the waterfalls, the Bhagsunag temple dedicated to lord shiva and the short hike to the falls amidst mountain greens.

Namgyal Chorten

Founded as Phende Lekshe Ling in the year 1564 by the 3rd Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Sonam Gyatso, this old monastery is one of the prime tourist attractions. It is believed by the Tibetan population of the region that the abode of Dalai Lama resides here. Nearly 200 monks live in the monastery to protect the practices, skills, and traditions of the monastery.

Also Visit:

Triund, Dharamkot, Dal Lake, Tibetan Museum, Dhauladhar viewpoints, Minkiani pass, Norbulingka Institute, Kreri lake, Kangra fort, Nechung Gompa, Tsechokling Gompa, Tibetan Children’s Village, Cultural Museum, Men-Tsee-Khang Museum, Tibet Museum, Men-Tsee-Khang and many more.

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