A Home Away from Home: McLeod Ganj

We all love a good getaway and what’s better than going to a hill station? The concept of hill stations came into existence when the British set up rejuvenating sanctums to beat the heat of the subcontinent. Although all hill stations offer scenic views and tranquillity, only a few become places of refuge. Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh is one such place. It’s more than a hill station. For the Tibetan people, it’s a home away from home.
A sanctum for those seeking refuge. Image source: Adotrip

A sanctum for those seeking refuge. Image source: Adotrip

When the British came to India, they realised that despite all the riches one could acquire in this land, the heat would make it impossible for them to stay sane and build what they thought. India's weather is not suited to everyone, and Europeans found out the hard way. From the extreme climate of Delhi to the humid and prickly weather patterns near the coasts, the English felt stifled and longed for the brisk atmosphere back home.

However, they couldn't just leave the subcontinent on a whim. Most of the officers here were for work and not on vacation. And then it hit them- if they couldn't go to the cool pleasant places, they could create a few here.

Dharamshala is one of the most popular hill stations in India. Its story began in 1850 when the British emerged victorious after the Second Anglo-Sikh war. The troops were placed in the cantonment area in Kangra near the Dhauladhar Range. Additionally, the reset houses were also known as Dharamshalas hence, the name Dharamshala came into being.

Nestled in the upper regions of Dharamshala is McLeod Ganj. When China invaded Tibet and declared it a part of the mainland, the Tibetans realised that their autonomy would never be restored. There was an uprising but unfortunately, it was brutally crushed and the Tibetans had no option but to seek refuge in India. Thus, in 1959, McLeod Ganj became a central place for many Buddhists after His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, Tibetan officials, and people moved here.

Parting from one’s motherland is always difficult. However, the Tibetan people who migrated here, made McLeod Ganj a homely place. Today, it is also known as ‘little Lhasa’ and is a popular tourist destination for those who are interested in learning about Buddhist culture or just wish to get a glimpse of the Dalai Lama.

Mcleodganj is a popular tourist destination. The streets are filled with people marvelling at Buddhist tradition and learning the art of making mandalas. Shops lined next to each other sell ethnic clothes and home decor that will make you want to buy everything you see.

People who come here seek peace and spirituality. Buddhist philosophies inspire many foreigners who come here in search of answers. While the Dalai Lama's monastery is the main attraction, people also come here to enjoy nature.

One of the most visited attractions is the Namgyal Monastery which is the Dalai Lama’s personal monastery. Although the monastery was located in Lhasa, it was relocated to Mcleodganj when the Dalai Lama and his followers moved here. In addition to this, there is also a Tibetan Museum that showcases the personal archives of the Tibetan people. The museum is a symbol of resilience and perseverance

Although at some point in history, McLeod Ganj was just a small town living in its own space and time, it has become a hub for people who seek spirituality, and learn Buddhist traditions while keeping the culture and identity of Tibetans alive.


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