The Best Guide to McLeod Ganj

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Why did India Give Asylum to the Tibetan Buddhist?

Much of South-East Asia primary religion is Buddhism while India's is Hindu and Muslim. So why did India offer political asylum to the Tibetan Buddhists and why did the Tibetans accept?

Tibetan Buddhists and McLeod Ganj

The second part of the question is much easier to answer; the Tibetan Buddhist were made to feel welcome and McLeod Ganj is a geographically ideal location. McLeod Ganj is located in an ideal position for the Tibetan Buddhists; the border with China is not so distant that escaping Tibetans were able to reach their temporary home with minimal fear of capture by the Chinese. The route is difficult and dangerous but if any one set of people were capable of the journey it was the Tibetans.

Namgyalma Stupa McLeod Ganj

The colourful Namgyalma Stupa in McLeod Ganj

McLeod Ganj is located sufficiently within India so that reprisal from China via a large frontal attack or subtle insurgency mission would be made difficult. The final suitability factor of McLeod Ganj is that the region, though suffering with heavy monsoon, is similar to Tibet so cultures, traditions and lifestyles would require dramatically change.

pray flags in McLeod Ganj

The pray flags in McLeod Ganj

The Tibetan Buddhists were also made to feel welcome within India as India provided funds for both education and health. This (semi-)tolerant Indian government allowed political and religious freedoms of the Buddhists and the Tibetan population swelled to 80,000. The Tibetans under the guidance of the Dalai Lama organised the Tibetan government-in-exile all of which was encouraged by the Indian government.

Why did the Indian government offered political Sintra asylum to the Tibetan Buddhists?

The first question as to why the 1959 Indian government offered political asylum is much more difficult to answer. The small number of Tibetans had minimal to offer to India as a country and the action would anger the military and ideological strong China of the 1950s.

budhist monks of McLeod Ganj

The colourful Buddhist monks of McLeod Ganj

It was a surprising move for India to offer political asylum as prior to the escape India had not condemned China for its treatment against the Tibetan Buddhists as much of the world had done. The politically wise decision would have been to transport the Tibetans to a neutral Buddhist country and openly denied any involvement but India chose not to so why?


A possible motive for the asylum was as a reactionary move against China's apparent land grab on the mountainous regions of the border. Under forced labour the Chinese had constructed the China National Highway 219 (G219) that led deep into the Kashmir (India). This surprised India who had not known of its construction and considered it as an act of claiming lands.

A possibly more shady reason involves world politics, the CIA was secretly active in Lhasa providing funds and guidance. All that is confidently known that the Dalai Lama was personnel welcomed by India president Jawaharlal Nehru who agreed with many of the terms set down by the Tibetan Buddhists. Why are Tibetan Buddhist in McLeod Ganj?


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