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India: Himachal Pradesh: Dalhousie, Dharamshala, McLeodganj
McLeodganj, Himachal Pradesh, India: British legacy
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
The name McLeodganj intrigues. Actually, McLeodganj was named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, a Lieutenant Governor of Punjab; the suffix ganj is a common Hindi-Urdu word for "neighbourhood".
We checked into Best Western Indraprastha Resort & Spa late in the afternoon. The resort’s location is truly remarkable, offering excellent view of the mountains and valleys. Built on winding roads, you would surely need private transportation to reach there. Since we had a cab at our disposable, the location was a non-issue.
In March 1850, McLeodganj 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. During the British rule in India, the town was a hill station where the British spent hot summers. Around the late 1840s, when the district headquarters in Kangra became overcrowded, the British moved two regiments to Dharamshala.
That evening we visited St. John in the Wilderness Church, Naddi Point and the local market.
St. John in the Wilderness is an Anglican church dedicated to John the Baptist built in 1852 at Forsyth Gunj. Set amidst deodar forest, and built in neo-Gothic architecture, the church is known for its Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin, wife of Lord Elgin.
Its churchyard is the final resting place of Lord Elgin (James Bruce), who served as Governor General of the Province of Canada, who oversaw the Creation of Responsible Government in Canada, and later, while in China, ordered the complete destruction of the Old Summer Palace. He became Governor-General & Viceroy of India in 1861 during the British Raj, though he soon died at Dharamshala on November 20, 1863 and was buried there.
Naddi Point is the highest motorable point about 6 kms from McLeodganj. It offers pristine view of the snowcapped peaks and is popular for its sunset. Sadly, it’s very crowded and there’s no proper facilities to enjoy the sunset… unless of course you are lucky to get a seat at one of the restaurants on the edge of the cliff. I was put off by the filth that was lying all around. But the walk on the edge (on the opposite side of the sunset) was quite rewarding and worth the while.
The next morning we checked out. Before leaving for our next destination, Dalhousie, we visited The Thekchen Choling Temple Complex – The Dalai Lama Temple.
The Thekchen Choling Temple Complex is a spiritual center for Tibetan Buddhism, while the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives houses thousands of precious manuscripts.
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. McLeodganj became Dalai Lama's official residence and also home to several Buddhist monasteries and thousands of Tibetan refugees.
In the complex you can watch the monks in lively debate in the courtyard. Sealing points of argument are with a foot stamp and theatrical clap of the hands. The Dalai Lama's residence, not open to the public, is on the south side of the courtyard.
Post lunch, we drove towards Dalhousie which would be our home for the next 2 days.
McLeodganj Image Gallery Photo viewer
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