St. John In The Wilderness Church Overview

The Church of St. John in the Wilderness is a serene haven nestled amidst the captivating landscapes of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh on the way to McLeod Ganj. Built in 1852, this architectural gem showcases colonial-era design with its rustic stone exterior and intricate stained glass windows.

Surrounded by the lush greenery of the Himalayan foothills, the church offers a peaceful retreat for prayer and contemplation. It holds both religious and historical significance, dedicated to St. John the Baptist and serving as a memorial to Lord Elgin, the former British Viceroy of India.

Inside, visitors are welcomed by a tranquil ambiance, enhanced by the soft glow of candlelight and gentle hymns. The interior boasts beautiful woodwork and frescoes, adding to its timeless charm.

Beyond its religious importance, the Church of St. John hosts various cultural events and services, welcoming people of all backgrounds to gather in fellowship.

For travelers exploring Dharamshala through Himachal Pradesh tour packages, a visit to this historic church is a must. It offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the region's rich heritage and spirituality, amidst the serene beauty of the Himalayas. Whether for pilgrimage or admiration of its architecture, the Church of St. John promises a memorable experience for all who visit.

How To Reach

By air: The nearest airport is Kangra which is about 21 KM from the church. From the airport, you will have to book a taxi or board the bus or train towards Dharamsala. 

By road: The church is just 6 KM away from the main bus stand which is located near Depot Bazar. Going by road is the fastest and most convenient way to reach the church. 

By train: The nearest station is Nagrota which is at a distance of 32 kilometres. The railway services are quite far away, which is why most people prefer to go by road.

Best Time To Visit

Between March to June, the weather at Dharamsala is pretty comfortable and remains quite pleasant throughout. The summers are the best time for sightseeing purpose as winters can be very harsh. Winters in this region experience heavy snowfall due to which it is impossible to explore or even visit the place as it is a hilly region and may possess safety issues. To enjoy the best of this beautiful place, it is advised to visit Dharamsala during the summer season.

Other Essential Information

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.

History of St John Wilderness 

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

Places to Eat near St John Wilderness Church

1. Woeser Bakery: Located on the Jogiwara road, this bakery is known for its best quality cakes, cookies, pies, etc. It is a very popular bakery in this area and is the perfect place for you to enjoy its delicious offerings of bakes with its very popular coffee.

2. Morgan’s Place: This is one of the most top-rated restaurants and a favourite among many tourists. Along with good food, it has got great ambience and has a terrace which gives you a spectacular view of McLeodganj. 

3. Illiterati: This one is a small but cozy café with a large variety of food. It is a must-visit for book lovers who can sip on their favourite drink while reading a book amidst the beautiful surroundings. 

4. Moonpeak Espresso: Located on the Tempet road, it is one of the highest-rated cafes in this region. They have received the certificate of excellence from several organizations for their delicious food, amazing service and courteous staff. You can visit this café in the evening or after a long tiring trek for some yummy snacks.

5. The Cliff, Rooftop bar and lounge: This place gives you a stunning panoramic view of the Himalayas. In the evenings, you can enjoy the cool breeze and grab your favourite drink with your bunch of favourite people. The place is very impressive and great for a relaxing evening.

6. Lobsang’s Four Seasons Café: This cafe is a sweet little place that serves great-tasting, high-quality Tibetan food. Authentic food coupled with Tibetan hospitality here is sure to give you a great experience on your trip to McLeodganj. 

7. Tibet Kitchen: Situated in the middle of the market area, it is one of the best places in McLeodganj for Tibetan food. They also serve Bhutanese cuisine and their menu has some great options worth trying.

Traveller’s tips before visiting St John Wilderness Church 

1. St John Wilderness Church is a religious place and one must maintain the decorum when on the premises. 

2. The best time to visit is during the summer, between March to June. If you feel the heat is too much, do carry an umbrella and a pair of sunglasses. 

3. The area where the church is located is absolutely beautiful and will leave you awestruck! You must carry your cameras and capture as many beautiful pictures as you can as there is no restriction on photography. 

4. Make sure you are wearing decent yet comfortable clothing and most importantly wear comfortable footwear to walk around with ease.

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