St John in the Wilderness Church, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh

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Nestled in the breathtaking landscape of Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh, India, St John in the Wilderness Church is a testament to history and faith. With its remarkable architectural beauty and serene ambience, this church has become a significant religious and cultural landmark in the region. Let us take a look at the rich history and captivating features of St. John in the Wilderness Church.

History of St John in the Wilderness Church

St John in the Wilderness Church has a long history dating back to 1852 when it was built here in the middle of the forest in Mcloedganj area in Dharamsala. Named after John the Baptist, this sacred house of worship has great historical significance.  The church stands all alone in a thick forest of evergreen deodar trees. There is no other construction in the vicinity of the church premises.  Because of its location in the middle of a forest, it is named Church of St. John in the Wilderness.


Architectural features

As you approach St John in the Wilderness Church, you are greeted by an impressive example of Gothic architecture. The stone walls, decorated with ornate details, are a testament to the craftsmanship of the past. Inside the church, the stained glass windows spread a vivid light, creating a heavenly atmosphere. The delicate woodwork and the elegance of the interior add to the timeless charm of the church.

Lord Elgin Memorial

In the church grounds there is a memorial dedicated to Lord Elgin, former Viceroy of India, commemorating his work and connection to the region. This memorial commemorates the historical ties between the colonial period and the local community.

Religious services and activities

St. John in the Wilderness Church is not only a structure of architectural splendour, but also a place of spiritual solace. Services and masses are held regularly, and both locals and visitors can attend. The tranquil atmosphere encourages introspection and makes the place a popular destination for meditation and reflection.

The Cemetery at St John in the Wilderness Church Dharamsala

Surrounding the church is a quiet cemetery whose grounds are carefully maintained. In this sacred resting place lie British soldiers and other notable figures from the colonial era. The cemetery at St John in the Wilderness Church Dharamsala is a poignant reminder of the historical heritage and stories of those who once lived in these majestic mountains.

Visitor experience

Entering St. John in the Wilderness Church is a captivating experience. The serenity of the surroundings combined with the spiritual atmosphere provides a sense of peace and tranquilly. Visitors are drawn to the church for its historical significance, architectural beauty, and the opportunity to find solace within its sacred halls.


St John in the Wilderness Church, Nainital

There is another church of the same name in Nainital. The Church of St John in the Wilderness in Nainital is located a short distance from Lake Nainital. A famous landmark is the High Court of Uttarakhand, located in Mallital (on the southern edge of Nainital Lake). It is one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Nainital and was built in 1846 in honour of John the Baptist and is one of the earliest buildings in Nainital. Like the church in Mcloedganj, this church was built in Neo-Gothic style amidst pine and deodar trees on a hilltop.

Places of interest near St John Church in Wilderness Mcloedganj

St John Church in Wilderness is located in Mcloedgang, Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. Mcloedganj, and, for that matter, Dharamsla, is a hill station visited by tourists from India and all over the world throughout the year. There are so many interesting places to visit near Dharamsala. Some of them are as follows :-


The seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is located in Mcloedgaj. Tourists and devotees from far and near come to visit the monasteries in Dharamsala and, if possible, to see H.H. the Dalai Lama.  Residence of the Dalai Lama and other important Buddhist Monasteries, museums are located here.  The Mcloedganj market is a popular shopping destination for locals and outsiders.

Bhagsu Nag Waterfall and Temple

Bhagsu waterfall is a popular tourist spot in Dharamsala. The waterfall can be reached after a short hike, for which one must first reach the Bhagsu Nag Temple. This temple is located in a peaceful and quiet environment and one can spend some time here after visiting Bhagsunag waterfall.

Kangra Fort

Kangra Fort is at a short distanceof only 20 km from Dharamsala.  This magnificent Kangra Fort is a must visit for tourists. The stunning architecture and design of the fort attracts many tourists. There is also a museum where some historical and prehistoric artefacts are displayed.

Triund Hill

Adventurous people can do some hikes, such as Triund trek and Kareri Lake trek, which are short hikes, although there are some high altitude lakes where the hike is a bit more difficult and takes longer. Triund is a place with grassy meadows and amazing panoramic views of the Dhauladhars. The Triund trek is relatively easy and you can even spend a day or two in camps and capture some amazing panoramic views with your camera.

Chamuda Devi Temple

Chamunda Devi Temple is located about 15 km from Dharamsala on the highway to Mandi, Himachal Pradehs. The temple is dedicated to Chamunda Devi, a fierce incarnation of Goddess Kali and Shakti. The temple has immense spiritual significance and attracts numerous pilgrims every year.


The Church of St John in the Wilderness is a symbol of spiritual refuge and historical heritage in the charming town of Mcleodganj. With its Gothic architecture, stained glass windows and tranquil atmosphere, this church captivates the hearts and minds of visitors. It is a reminder of the enduring power of faith and the rich history that has shaped this region. Whether you seek spiritual solace or want to immerse yourself in the beauty of the past, a visit to St. John in the Wilderness Church promises a profound and unforgettable experience.


Recommended Reading :-

Christ Church Shimla, An Architectural Marvel

Churches and Cemetries in Himachal Pradesh


Frequently Asked Questions about St John in the Wilderness Church, Dharamsala.

Yes, the house of the Lord is open to all.  Visitors are welcome to attend services at St John in the Wilderness Church.  The doors of the church are open for tourists even when there is no church service.

Yes, photography is normally allowed in the church. However, courtesy demands not to take pictures while the church service is being held.  One should be mindful of the solemnity and respectful of the worship space.

St John in the Wilderness Church is located only 900 meters away from Mcloedgaj.  In fact the church is located on the way to Mcloedganj.

No, there are no specific restrictions on entry to St John in the Wilderness Church, Dharamsala.  However, visitors are expected to respect the sanctity of the site and to keep quiet while inside the church.

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