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The Church of St John in the Wilderness is truly an architectural marvel lying deep within the woods of Himachal Pradesh. It has stories narrated from the region’s colonial past. A place of peace away from the noisy and busy life, it interests travellers apart from mainstream tourists. Going inside these Gothic architectures will allow finding solace and a deep connection with the past; hence, it is important to be visited by history lovers and nature enthusiasts.

Church Of St John In The Wilderness: A Historical Marvel

The St. John in the Wilderness is one of the most beautiful places near McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh

Image Credit: Harvinder Chandigarh for Wikimedia Commons
The Captivating Church of St John in the Wilderness is located near McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh, enveloped within deep forest. This Neo-Gothic-styled construction comes from the year 1852 and takes you into the annals of the British Colonial era in India. The church’s work upon its construction and architectural work is detailed and intriguing, reflecting in its surroundings serene, amid nature’s vicinity, inviting ways for the people to step back in time and live a piece of history.

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Gothic Architecture And History Of The Church Of St John

The Gothic spires of the Church of St. John in the Wilderness are nestled in the lush forests of Himachal Pradesh.

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In its pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses, the architectural style of the Church of St John in the Wilderness is Gothic. The remarkable structure of this church features Belgian stained glass that showers an indoor play of colours, giving the ambience a very peaceful and soulful feel. These windows were donated by Lady Elgin, widow of Lord Elgin, the then Viceroy of India, whose grave lies in the churchyard.

Scenic Location Of Church Of St John In The Wilderness

The Church of St. John in the Wilderness is surrounded by lush greenery

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Set amidst dense deodar forests, the church has a perfect pictorial background for quiet moments of thought and relaxation. The place itself is an attraction and gives one an optimum chance to explore the historical place right within the arms of nature. The calm atmosphere and the freshness of the mountain breeze make the church the perfect place for anyone who wants to get away from it all.

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Memorial To Lord Elgin

The tomb of Lord Elgin, a significant historical figure.

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In the middle of the wilderness is the St. John church, and within it, the tomb of Lord Elgin, the Viceroy of India from British rule who died in 1863. It is a major place of historical importance and is always thronged with history enthusiasts wanting to know more about India’s colonial history. The peaceful churchyard in which the memorial is located brings one back through time to glimpse how life was in the days of those who ruled this country.

Stained Glass Windows Of The Church Of St John In The Wilderness

The beautiful stained-glass windows inside the Church of St. John in the Wilderness.

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The stained-glass windows at the Church of St. John in the Wilderness, donated by Lady Elgin, portray scenes from various parts of the Bible, adding a divine beauty flair to the church’s interior. First and foremost, detailing and craftsmanship are top-notch in making the windows one of the most loved features of many in the church. The filtered light through stained glass sets a peaceful, reflective mood for visitors coming in, adding even more to the spiritual experience.

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Bell Tower Of The

The historic bell tower of the Church of St. John in the Wilderness.

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The bell, cast in 1915, still forms part of the pealing of time, calling the faithful to prayer. Adorning the tower of the Church of St. John in the Wilderness, it’s beautiful in its own right, reflecting the Gothic architectural style that takes precedence throughout the building. Sounds from the ringing of the bell reverberated through the forest and can often be heard by visitors, and this has added to the mystique the church carries with it. Here are the visiting hours for Church of St. John in the Wilderness in Dharamshala: The church welcomes visitors from Monday to Saturday, opening its doors at 7:00 AM and closing at 6:00 PM. Prayer services are held on Sundays.

How To Reach
The scenic pathway leading to the Church of St. John in the Wilderness

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Consider the following modes for a hassle-free and more enjoyable visit to the Church of St. John in the Wilderness:
By Air
The closest airport is Kangra Airport, about 21 km away. You must hire a taxi or take a bus ride to the church.
By Road
The church is near the main bus stand, around 6 km from Depot Bazar. To reach the Church of St. John in the Wilderness, one can easily hire a local taxi or even take an auto from the bus stand.
By Train
Nearest Railway Station: The nearest railway station is Nagrota, about 32 km from the church. From this point onward, taxis or local transport can be hired to the Church of St John in the Wilderness.

On visiting Dharamshala, you may even find private cab service reservations from some of the leading car rental companies. This will help you travel comfortably and visit any place of interest in Dharamshala.

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Things To Do At Church Of St John In The Wilderness

The peaceful church grounds, perfect for quiet reflection and enjoying the natural beauty of the surroundings.

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1. Experience Transformative Prayer Services: Participate in the church’s prayer services, which can offer a refreshing perspective on life and a deeper sense of peace.
2. Explore the Historic Cemetery: Wander through the solemn cemetery, a poignant tribute to those who perished in the devastating 1880 landslide, and reflect on the area’s rich history.
3. Capture Stunning Architecture: Snap photos of the church’s exquisite architecture, a beautiful representation of the old heritage and neo-Gothic style that transports you back in time.
4. Engage with the Clergy: Have enlightening conversations with the church’s Fathers and Brothers, who are eager to share the fascinating culture and history of this sacred place.

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Finally, St John in the Wilderness was a belonging of the people: it was a treasure hidden, like some beautiful gem, in the heart of Himachal Pradesh, replete with a history and architectural beauty combined with natural beauty. The church should mean something to a history lover, architecture connoisseurs, or generally anybody interested enough to walk into nature. So peaceful and important from the past historically; that’s a place one must visit. Ready to explore something hidden and grandiose? Book your holiday now at the St. John in the Wilderness Church and lose yourself in its majestic beauty and glory. Plan your trip to Dharamshala on your dream vacation!

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Cover Image credit : By Photographer Praveen Singh Bisht for Wikimedia Commons.

Frequently Asked Questions About Church Of St John In The Wilderness

Discuss the historical importance of the Church of St. John in the Wilderness.

The Church of St. John in the Wilderness was built during the British colonial period, in the year 1852, with neo-Gothic-style architecture. There is a vivacious historical development attached as a result of the fact that Lord Elgin, during the time of being the British Viceroy of India, is buried in the churchyard. Added importance to the historical significance of the place is the beautiful Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin and the architecture of the church.

When is the Church of St. John in the Wilderness open to visitors?

The church is physically open during the entire day from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., excluding Sunday, of course. Throughout this repetition of the days, there are normal hours for prayer inside.

How do I get to the Church of St. John in the Wilderness?

St. John's Church in the Wilderness is well-connected by air, road, and train. The nearest airport is Kangra Airport, 21 km away from the church. The church is 6 km from the main bus stand near Depot Bazar by road. The nearest railway station is at Nagrota, approximately 32 km away from the church. One can easily avail taxis or take public transport to reach the church from these points.

Are there any entry fees for entering the Church of St. John in the Wilderness?

Entry to the Church of St. John in the Wilderness is free. Of course, a donation for the maintenance of the church and its environs will be welcome and appreciated.

What should be the best attire to be worn inside the Church of St. John in the Wilderness?

It is a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes, as one might like to walk around the stunning mosaics that surround the church. As the church is located in wooded surroundings, it can get pretty cold in the morning hours and warmer during the day, making layered clothing appropriate. Another useful tip is to bring along some water and a few light snacks, particularly during the warmer months.

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