McLeod Ganj is a village in the suburbs of Dharamshala, in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It has an average elevation of 2,082 metres (6,831 feet). It is situated in the lap of Dhauladhar Range, a branch of the southern outer Himalayas. The village is named after Lord David McLeod, the English lieutenant governor of Punjab, who founded it in 1848 as a retreat from the heat of the plains. The suffix Ganj is a common Hindi word for neighbourhood.
By the early 1900s it had become an important centre of trade, commerce, and official work of Kangra District. But in 1905 the area was destroyed by a devastating earthquake, leaving the area without any significant activity for almost half a century.
McLeod Ganj has a population of about 10,000 people, including local Indians, Nepalese, exile Tibetans, and foreign expats. It is predominantly inhabited by a hill tribe, the Gaddis. The Nepalese community began after a Gurkha regiment was moved here by the British in the late 1800s.
After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, fled to India with thousands of followers. He was initially sheltered in Mussoorie, but on 30 April 1960 he came to McLeod Ganj, where he established the Central Tibetan Administration. Since then McLeod Ganj has risen to an important international destination.
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