St. John in the Wilderness Church

An elegant church from British Era

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One must not miss the opportunity to visit St. John's Church while in McLeod Ganj, located in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. This historical church is conveniently accessible from McLeod Ganj and is a must-see attraction for visitors in the area.

This church has a rich history dating back to the British period. Dedicated to John the Baptist, it was constructed in 1852 and features stunning Neo-Gothic architecture.

The church is adorned with exquisite Belgian stained glass windows featuring beautiful artwork generously donated by Lady Elgin, the esteemed wife of Lord Elgin.

The grave memorial of James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin and former Viceroy of India (1862–1863), can be found at the church.

The church houses a historic graveyard that is currently in a state of disrepair. This sacred ground serves as the final resting place for British individuals who tragically lost their lives in the devastating earthquake of 1905 AD. Despite the destructive force of the earthquake, the church itself remained largely unscathed, with the exception of the bell tower which was completely destroyed.

The new bell was built in 1915 AD and was brought from England to be installed in the compound. Due to its unique location and Gothic feel St John Church attracts lot of tourist. The church is only opened on Sundays when mass is held in the morning at 10am in English and 11am in Hindi.
Along the walking path in the church, the holy cross symbols are artistically made with colourful stones. The church is usually under close watch by security guards to make sure no damage is caused by tourists and visitors.
The beautiful church with its neo-gothic architecture is a part of the colonial heritage. The church was a dedication to John the Baptist and built in the year 1852. It was a place of worship for the British troops that were placed here during that period. In 1905, a major earthquake hit the Kangra area and took the lives of around 19,800 people.

Most buildings in Kangra were completely destroyed but the church remained almost untouched except its bell tower which was partially broken. In 1915, a new bell was reinstalled. The graveyard surrounding the church is where Lord Elgin, Governor-General and Viceroy of India was buried in 1861.

The St John Church in The wilderness Dharamsala may not have the grandeur of the Churches in Goa or Karnataka but it has strange timeless beauty that merges harmoniously with its setting in the middle of beautiful Dhauladhar ranges.

Location: Easily accessible from McLeodganj, it is advised to take the 20-minute walk downhill from the bus station instead of taking an auto-rickshaw. 

Timing: Sunday mass is held at 10 AM in English and at 11 AM in Hindi. Rest of the days, the church is open from 7 AM to 6 PM. 

Price: There is no entry fee.