McLeodganj (McLeod Ganj or McLeodGanj) is a town situated in the Upper Dharamshala region of Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. Surrounded by the Dhauladhar ranges, McLeodganj lies at an average altitude of 1800 meters above sea level.
McLeodganj is famous for its Tibetan institutions and Buddhist monasteries. McLeodganj was the home of the Gaddi tribe in its initial days. It was an integral territory of Katoch Dynasty, which is considered among the worlds oldest royal families.
McLeodganj later came under the rule of the British and was named so, after Sir Donald Friell McLeod, who was the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab of British India (1865 1870). McLeodganj, though a summer resort of the British during the 1840s became a garrison town in the 1850s. It was transformed to a prominent commercial and political centre, by the 1900s.
Post Indian Independence, McLeodganj served as a flourishing health resort till the 1950s. In the early 1960s, it became the official residence of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. It also became the headquarters to 'Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama' (CTA), which is commonly referred to as the 'Tibetan Government in Exile'. Today, McLeodganj, has transpired to become Little Lhasa or Dhasa, as it houses several Buddhist monasteries and a large population of Tibetan refugees.
The town of McLeodganj, surrounded by thick vegetation of oak, pine, deodar and rhododendron, is located nearby the perennial snowline of the snowy Dhauladhar mountain ranges. Due to its elevation and thick forest cover, McLeodganj and its surrounding areas (Upper Dharamshala) are much cooler than its counterpart, Lower Dharamshala.
McLeodganj, which still retains the old colonial charm, is a popular destination in Himachal Pradesh as the town is famous for Tibetan Buddhism, culture, art and crafts. McLeodganj is also a major shopping centre famous for souvenirs like Tibetan handicrafts, thangkas, Tibetan carpets, garments, wooden masks, metal votive objects, paper drawings, beads, baubles, etc.
The vicinity of places like New Delhi and Chandigarh attract hordes of nature lovers and trekkers to McLeodganj. McLeodganj of Upper Dharamshala can be accessed by road and by rail. The nearest airport to McLeodganj is at Gaggla, which is about 13 km away from the town.
McLeodganj offers sightseeing attractions like Dharamkot, Bhagsu, Triund, Dal Lake, Gaggal, Lower Dharamshala, etc. along with Buddhist monasteries like Namgyal Monastery, Tsuglagkhang, Gompa Dip Tse-Chok Ling, etc.
McLeodganj offers excursions to destinations like Kullu, Shimla, Manali, etc. McLeodganj also serves as a base camp for various trekking expeditions that cover Kangra and Chamba Valleys and the Dhauladhar ranges.