Lying 526-km northwest of New Delhi, Dharamshala is the headquarters of the Kangra District in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Kangra valley is one of the most pleasant, relaxing and spiritual places in the Himalayas. Marvelously scenic, especially upper Dharamshala, is well wooded with oak, cedar, pine and other timber yielding trees and offers some lovely walks and finer views. In 1855, Dharamshala had only two major areas where civilians settled in : McLeod Ganj, named after Lieutenant Governor of Punjab "David McLeod", and Forsyth Ganj, named after a Divisional Commissioner.
Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India (1862-63) fell in love with the natural beauty of Dharamshala because of its likeness with Scotland, his home in England. Lord Elgin died in 1863 while on a tour. He now lies buried in the graveyard of St. John's Church-in-Wilderness, which stands in a cozy pine grove between McLeod Ganj and Forsyth Ganj.
A Legend has it that Lord Elgin liked Dharamshala so much that he had sent a proposal to the British monarch to make Dharamshala the summer capital of India. However, the proposal was ignored. By 1904, Forsyth Ganj and McLeod Ganj had become nerve centres of trade , business and official work of Kangra District, But on April 4,1905, as a result of a severe earthquake, whole of the area was devastated. Alarmed at the massive destruction, the British government decided to shift the district headquarter offices to the lower reaches of spur. As a result, the present-day district courts and kotwali bazaar areas came into being which earlier had only a jail, a police station and cobbler's shop to boast of. Until India attained independence from Britain on Aug. 15,1947 McLeod Ganj and Forsyth Ganj continued to serve as health resorts and resting places for the British Rulers. But all this changed when the government of India decided to grant political asylum to the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatsho, in 1959. In 1960, he was allowed to make McLeod Ganj his headquarters. After his arrival, trade, commerce and tourism picked up afresh. This because with the Dalai Lama came thousands of Tibetan refugees, who gradually settled in Mcleod Ganj. During the last three decades, The Tibetans have built many religious, educational and cultural institutions in and around McLeod Ganj, which has helped in preservation of their culture. This has been a keen area of interest for the people around the world and as a result they flock at Dharamshala at various times.