History in Mcleodganj

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Nestled in the Dhaluadhars, the western range of Himalayas is the beautiful hill station of Mcleodganj in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, in India. This is also the residence of His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama.

During the British Empire

The history of McLeodganj dates back to 1855 when India was under the colonial rule of the British Empire. In the year 1849, British troops were stationed in Kangra after the triumph of the Second Anglo-Sikh War. The area, where the cantonment was formed, had a small rest house or Dharmashahla , and henceforth the cantonment was known as Dharmashala. Later it became the administrative head office of the Kangra District. Two civilian settlements were also made here, McLeodganj named after David McLeod, the then Lt. Governor of Punjab and Forsythganj, named after a Divisional Commissioner.

The area developed in terms of trade, commerce and tourism. It became the favorite hill destination of the British in India who would spend the summers here with their families. Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy (1862-1863) of India, fell in love with this place as it reminded of his homeland, Scotland. He suggested making this place the summer capital in India but his suggestion was ignored. He died while touring Dharmashala in 1863 and was buried in St. John's Church-in-Wilderness graveyard in Forsythganj.

The township was destroyed completely by an earthquake in 1905. The British government shifted the district headquarters from Dharmashala to a lower area and the town lost its importance. However it was still the holidaying destination of the British until the independence of India in 1947. It was the Dalai Lama who once again revived the town. 

After Independence

In 1959, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, had to flee Tibet due to Chinese aggression and he took refuge in India. In 1960, the Indian government allowed him to set up the administrative headquarters of the Tibet government in exile in McLeodganj. Since then the beautiful hill station became the site of a Buddhism learning and pilgrim center. It is also known as “Little Lasha” for its Tibetan culture which was brought by the Tibetan refugees who settled here. To preserve the culture and tradition of Tibetan many religious, cultural and educational institutes were built in and around the town. Today it is a major center of trade, commerce and tourism in India.

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