McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Dharmashala in Himachal Pradesh specifically in the Kangra district. Being renowned in the world for its distinctive blend of the Kangra and Tibetan culture, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod (a lieutenant governor of Punjab) it is located at an elevation of 2,082m on the Dhaulandhar Range and has a significantly large population of about 11,000 people and a booming tourism industry.
After the area was annexed after the second Anglo Sikh war; the British troops were stationed at Kangra with a Hindu resthouse or Dharamshala and was thus called Dharamshala which later was a civilian settlement called McLeod Ganj. In 1959, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso fled to India after the occupation of the communist party of china under Mao’s rule. The Indian Government offered him refuge in Dharamshala where he set up the In March 1959 making McLeod Ganj his official residence thus giving it the name ‘Little Lhasa’
Because of this, the region draws huge tourist populations journeying as a pilgrimage and to visit the multitude of monasteries. It is also a centre where people come to study Tibetan Buddhism, crafts and culture. It is also a popular shopping centre for Tibetan artefacts, carpets, garments, wooden masks, paper drawings, beads etc.
Other landmarks like the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives reflect on the history of this community. The annual Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) is one of the most awaited events. One of the most important destinations is the Namgyal Monastery which is apart for being a monastery is also a centre for education called the Namgyal tantric college where tantric practices are taught to the future Namgyal monks.
McLeodganj also serves as a base camp for various summer trekking expeditions that cover Kangra and Chamba Valleys and Dhauladhar ranges. The most popular treks being Triund Trek, Kareri Lake Trek, Indrahar Pass Trek. Trekkers can visit mountain temples and monasteries. Trekkers can also witness the daily life of Himalayan shepherds and experience the Pahadi culture prevalent in Himachal Pradesh. spend a lot of time enjoying spectacular views with a 360-degree view of the hilltop thus making it one of the most popular tourist destinations India has to offer.