McLeodGanj, McLeodganj, Mcllo
|— town —|
|Nickname(s): Little Lhasa, or Dhasa|
|Elevation||2,082 m (6,831 ft)|
|• Other||English, Tibetan, Pahari|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Situated on the Dhauladhar Range, whose highest peak, "Hanuman Ka Tibba", at about 5,639 metres (18,500 feet), lies just behind it, it is known as "Little Lhasa" or "Dhasa" (a short form of Dharamshala used mainly by Tibetans) because of its large population of Tibetan refugees. The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeodGanj.
In March 1849, 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, McLeodGanj and ForsythGanj, named after a Divisional Commissioner. 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.
Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India (1862–63), liked the area so much that he even suggested at one point that 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 ForsythGanj, just below McLeodGanj. 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 Nowrosjee & Son continues to prosper to this date. Nowrosjee & Son is a popular hangout for visitors to McLeodGanj and has been at its present location since 1860. The Tea House set up by Lord Elgin became homeless when the Government acquired Mortimer House and shifted to a new base in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. It continues to this date under the name Mcleodganj Tea House and sells fine teas under the Mcleodganj Tea House brand by invitation to hotels and residences on the ground, in the air and at sea. The official tea service in residences ranging from the Buckingham Palace to Rashtrapati Bhavan to Air Force One to the Tea Buffet at the Claridges in London is almost always a proprietary blend created by McLeodGanj Tea House exclusively for that customer.
The twin towns of ForsythGanj and McLeodGanj 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 April 4, 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 McLeodGanj; even the Bhagsunath Temple was destroyed. Thereafter district headquarter offices were shifted to a lower spot, and the town waited another half century before anything significant transpired in its history.
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 McLeodGanj became his official residence and also home to several Buddhist monasteries and thousands of Tibetan refugees. Over the years, McLeodGanj evolved into an important tourist and pilgrimage destination, and has since grown much in population.
- The nearest airport is Gaggal airport, 15 km south of Dharamshala.
- The nearest railway stations on the Shimla-Kangra narrow gauge line are at Kangra and Nagrota (about 20 km south of Dharamshala). The nearest railhead (broad gauge) is at Pathankot (85 km).
Tourism is an important industry in McLeodGanj, 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 
Other Buddhist and Tibetan sites in McLeodGanj include the Namgyal Monastery, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, 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.
Art galleries 
- Naam Art Gallery
- The Naam Art Gallery is located at Sidhbari. The permanent exhibition in Naam Art Gallery shows paintings by Elsbeth Buschmann - water colours and acrylics - and oil paintings by Alfred W Hallett. The gallery remains open from 10 am to 7 pm on all days except Monday.
- Elsbeth Buschmann is a professional painter from Germany living in Dharamshala. Alfred Hallett was a very well known painter from England. He lived over 40 years in Dharamshala and became very popular in Himachal Pradesh. Many of his paintings are owned by the government of Himachal Pradesh. AW Hallett had a great love for, and a special interest in, the culture and scenery of Himachal Pradesh, which are among the main elements of his work. He died in Dharamshala in 1986. The display of his paintings in Naam Art Gallery is a tribute to him.
Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) 
The Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) will debut in McLeod Ganj during the first four days of November 2012. DIFF will include recent Indian and world cinema including fiction, documentaries and shorts, as well as panel discussions and master classes with filmmakers from India and abroad. DIFF is being presented by White Crane Arts & Media trust, established by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam to promote contemporary art, cinema and independent media practices in the Himalayan region.
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 McLeodGanj.
- St. John in the Wilderness
- An Anglican church located in the forest near ForsythGanj. 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.
Several NGOs are established in the McLeodGanj area with volunteering activities:
Dharmalaya offers educational and service-learning programmes and promotes cross-cultural appreciation and personal empowerment. Volunteers in McLeodGanj can serve as English tutors or computer teachers or can help with the environmental programmes of the Tibetan Welfare Office. Dharmalaya also offers volunteer and service-learning opportunities in the nearby town of Bir.
Learning and ideas for Tibet (LIT) 
LIT aims to offer free education for Tibetans, and to inform visitors in the McLeodGanj area on the Tibetan situation. Volunteers can participate in English grammar and conversation classes.
Lha charitable trust 
Lha provides free language and computer training, medical assistance, clothing to the Tibetan community in McLeodGanj. Volunteers can participate long term as teachers or drop-in for conversation classes.
Mountain Cleaners 
This is an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) involved in waste management activities for businesses, locals and tourists in the Dharamshala area. The organisation also arranges clean-up treks and children's days that volunteers can participate in.
Rogpa acts to integrate the Tibetan community in exile by increasing Tibetan cooperation and responsibility. The organisation has a cafe/shop in McLeodGanj where profits go to local projects involving empowerment of single mothers, a baby care center, etc.
Tibetan Charity 
Tibet Charity runs a social program aimed to improve the standard of living of Tibetans living in India. Mid- to long-term volunteers are needed for English and computer teaching. The organisation also runs a vet clinic in McLeodGanj for treatment of stray dogs.
Stupas near Tsuglag Khang, McLeodGanj
Notes and references 
- Diehl, Keila (2002). Echoes from Dharamshala Music in the Life of a Tibetan. University of California Press. pp. 45–46. ISBN 978-0-585-46878-5. OCLC 52996458.
- Dharamshala The Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 11, p. 301.
- Experiment in Exile TIME Asia.
- Other places which use this common suffix are: Darya Ganj, Pahar Ganj and Ghale Ganj.
- History Kangra district Official website.
- Dharamshala Earthquake 1905 - Images
- Where the Dalai Lama Dwells New York Times, April 29, 1990.
- www.mcllo.com An Non-Profit Informative, Travel and Community website of Dharamshala, McleodGanj and Kangra Valley
- "Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA)". Planning Commission NGO Database. Planning Commission, Government of India. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
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