A Tibetan Stupa On The Grounds Of The Tsuglagkhang Complex Which Is The Dalai Lamas Residence In Exile In Mcleod Gang, Dharmsala, India. (Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

UIG via Getty Images

Tsuglagkhang Complex

Top choice in Mcleod Ganj

McLeod's main focus for visiting pilgrims, monks and most tourists is the Tsuglagkhang complex, a custard-coloured concrete monastic village that's home to the Dalai Lama (behind a guarded gateway) along with two colourful temple rooms and the excellent Tibet Museum, whose entrance you'll pass en route.

Don't expect the visual drama of a Ladakhi gompa. The architecture is outwardly functional but there's much inside to intrigue. At 1.30pm (except Sundays) you can watch monks in lively debate in the central courtyard beneath high, expo-style canvas shades. Processing clockwise you'll pass a pilgrims' prostrating area then the door to the right in the westernmost building leads into the Kalachakra 'Wheel of Life' Temple (no photography) with its mesmerising mandalas and statues. Coming back around past the monastery kitchens, the last stop is the main temple room featuring fine statuary and the throne on which the Dalai Lama sits when delivering teachings.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Mcleod Ganj attractions

1. Tibet Museum

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This must-see, two-storey museum sets out to remind visitors of Tibet's history as an independent nation, mourning the Chinese occupation (since 1949) and…

2. Tsuglagkhang Main Temple Room

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Spiritually (if certainly not architecturally) the Tsuglagkhang's 1969 central temple room is the exiles’ concrete equivalent of the Jokhang temple in…

3. Kalachakra Temple

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Visiting the Tsuglagkhang clockwise, as is required by Buddhist convention, you pass a prostrating area then a door leads into the westernmost building,…

4. Gu-Chu-Sum Movement Gallery

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A charity that assists current and former Tibetan political prisoners, Gu-Chu-Sum has a gallery displaying harrowing photos chronicling oppression in…

5. Hope Gallery

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Through a gallery-cafe and film screenings, this organisation tells the tales of individual Tibetan lives as a way to illustrate Tibet's plight.

6. Tsechokling Gompa

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At the base of a long flight of steps off of Nowrojee Rd, this peaceful gompa was built in 1987 to replace the original Dip Tse Chokling Gompa in Tibet,…

7. Chorten

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Ringed by colourful prayer wheels, this recently built temple between Temple and Jogiwara Rds is generally known as the Chorten (Tibetan for stupa), since…

8. Cultural Museum

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Upstairs in the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives is a small but interesting cultural museum with statues, old Tibetan artefacts and books, and a couple…