McLeodGanj, McLeodganj, Mcllo
View of McLeod Ganj town
|Nickname(s): Little Lhasa, or Dhasa|
|Elevation||2,004 m (6,575 ft)|
|• Total||11,000 (approx)|
|• 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 Tibetans. The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeod Ganj.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Transport
- 4 Tourism
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Notes and references
- 7 External links
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. 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 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. 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. 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 McLeod Ganj became his official residence and also home to several Buddhist monasteries and thousands of Tibetan refugees. 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.
- 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).
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.
Other Buddhist and Tibetan sites in McLeod Ganj 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.
Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF)
The Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) debuted in McLeod Ganj during the first four days of November 2012, showing recent Indian and world cinema, including fiction, documentaries and shorts. Panel discussions and master classes with filmmakers from India and abroad also took place. DIFF was 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.
The major towns near McLeodGanj include Dharamshala, Palampur, Kangra, [[Sidhbari]], 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.
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.
Tibet World is an NGO operating in Mcleod Ganj since 17 February 2013. Its mission is to preserve and cultivate the Tibetan culture and empowering Tibetans to improve their lives. The NGO's goal is to help the displaced Tibetan community through education programmes and skill-building, workshops, provisioning of social services, environmental and cultural activities.
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.
This is an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) involved in waste management activities in the Bhagsunag area.They run a door to door waste collection service, conduct three clean-up hikes per week and host regular children's days and art projects 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.
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.
Tibet Hope Center
Tibet Hope Center aims to help adult refugees in learning various life skills, giving them the opportunity to start an independent life outside their own country. Volunteers are needed for mid- to long-term projects as well as for English conversation classes weekdays at Hope Cafe. The cafe is located off Jogiwara Rd and all proceeds go to ongoing projects.
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, 29 April 1990.
- McLeod Ganj
- www.mcllo.com A Non-Profit Informative, Travel and Community website of Dharamshala, McLeod Ganj and Kangra Valley
- TIC closed down, tourists left in the lurch, Times of India website, 19 July 2013.
- "Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA)". Planning Commission NGO Database. Planning Commission, Government of India. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
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