The Church of St. John in the Wilderness is an Anglican Church and a reminder of McLeod Ganj’s colonial past. Its cemetery is well tended and amongst others, documents the lives of many Scottish expatriates who died during the time of the British Raj and also some of the 19,727 victims of an earthquake in 1905. McLeod Ganj was a thriving British military base until 1855 when it grew into an important colonial hill station. It was largely razed by the earthquake and lay dormant until the Buddhist spiritual leader HH the 14th Dalai Lama decided to take up residence in the village following the invasion of Tibet by China in 1949. It has since become a Tibetan enclave and an estimated 8,000 exiled Tibetans live in McLeod Ganj giving it the nickname ‘Little Lhasa’. The exiled Tibetan Government also meets near here.
McLeod Ganj was the second place in India where I experienced Tibetan culture. Again, the friendliness of the Tibetan people and the simplicity of the Buddhist way of life captivated me. It was easy to see why many people come here to take a break from their usual routine and to refocus their ambitions. A large degree of life in McLeod Ganj revolves around the current situation in Tibet with many businesses, for example, donating all profits to the ‘Tibet in Exile’ cause.