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Last Updated: 14th December 2012

‘Christmas’ is a time for Prayer, Joy and Fun. It is the time when people share their wishes, gifts and happiness with their family and friends.

Throughout the world, Christmas Eve is celebrated by attending midnight Mass held in churches throughout the world.

Set amidst beautiful deodar forests, there is an ancient and picturesque church built in Neo-Gothic architecture, near the scenic town of Dharamshala. For people who are planning a trip to North India, during Christmas vacation, this is a charming and rustic place to visit.

church of st.john in the wilderness dharamsala
This photo, “St. John’s Church” @Flickr from
Aleksandr Zykov made available under a Share Alike, Attribution license

Popularly known as “St John’s Church in the Wilderness”, located in a densely forested area between ForsythGanj and McLeodGanj, this church is one of the oldest cathedrals in North India.

The church was built during British rule, in the year 1852. It is an Anglican church, complete with bell tower and spire. As the name says, the church is dedicated to St John (1 of 12 apostles of Jesus Christ).

The churchyard is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, who served as the Governor-General and Viceroy of India in 1861 during the British Raj. The church is also famous for its Belgian stained glass windows donated by Lady Elgin, wife of Lord Elgin.

There was an earthquake in the year 1905, which destroyed many buildings in McLeodGanj and Dharamshala. Fortunately St John’s church only lost the bell tower and spire, which was rebuilt in 1915.

The church attracts many people from far and wide. The scenic pine and deodar forest, the serene environment and the architecture of the church are bound to leave unforgettable memories in the minds of visitors. This church is one of the must-visit places for tourists.

St John’s church is a unique and a special place which should not be missed by anyone who is planning to visit Dharamshala. A visit to this peaceful abode will sure be a remarkable experience.

Church TimingsThe visiting hours are from 10 am to 5 pm each day. On every Sunday, there is service at 11:00 AM. The Church is closed on holidays.

Nearby Sterling Holidays Resort: Dharamshala – The Sanctuary

Distance from The Sanctuary: 5.5 km, 14 mins

Closest City: Chandigarh – 275 kms

Other nearby attractions in Dharamshala

  • Dal Lake – 11 km
  • Bhagsunag Falls – 11 km
  • Dharamkot – 14 km
  • Kangra Fort – 20 km
  • Kareri Lake – 35 Km
  • Jwalamukhi Temple – 56 km

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A voracious reader and a pondering writer, he is a magician who pulls out your dose of humor from the hat.

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