Dharamsala or Dharamshāla, (literally “Rest House”) is a town in Kangra district in the northern regions of India in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Dharamsala is located 525 Kms to the north of the National Captial New Delhi. The town is notable as the capital of the Central Tibetan Administration, a Tibetan government in exile led by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th and current Dalai Lama. The government’s headquarters are in McLeod Ganj, a suburb that is also referred to as Upper Dharamsala or “Little Lhasa”.
Dharamsala is located in the Dhauladhar ranges of the Sacred Himalayas, offering a majestic view of the Himalayas, a very calm, spiritual and a serene environment. You as a volunteer will be surrounded by the local population, which consists of a large number of Tibetan monks who throng the area and go about their business. Dharamshala and McLeodganj are twin towns, merging into each other, favorite with certain Hollywood stars for their charities. Dharamsala is also very famous for its numerous meditation centers & retreats (Vipassana, OSHO, etc). It’s a haven for spiritual seekers.
Our program in Dharamsala is located in ” McLeodGanj” Or Upper Dharamsala, the actual seat of HH the Dalai Lama and the Head Quarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile. Unlike other providers who place volunteers in nearby cities using the name Dharamsala, our volunteers are in the heart of the action. Volunteering in Dharamsala offer volunteers an opportunity to experience the Himachali and Tibetan culture side by side, get the first-hand experience of working with the Tibetan refugee community and understanding their struggle and be a part of their success story. Our project site and accommodations are located within a radius of 2kms for the Palace of HH The Dalai Lama to give our volunteers an opportunity to truly absorb the energy of this spiritual haven.
Teaching Tibetan Refugee Monks, nuns, and Adults:
Volunteers on this program work with our Teaching Tibetan refugee project. Under the refugee project volunteers Volunteer work to teach English, maths, Since, Computer, Social skills, Vocational training to Monks, Nuns and adults who have migrated from Tibetan and are trying to settle in India but find it tough as they are not exposed to this modern life. It’s a challenging project but at the same time a great learning experience as you get a chance to experience the Tibetan culture, understand their problems and help them with their cause.
Refugees from Tibet arrive in Dharamsala at the rate of about 8000 per year but with limited scope and exposure to the modern world, they face problems in adapting, finding jobs. Our program is aimed at helping the local refugee Tibetan community which is on exile from their home country.
Accommodation in Dharamsala is serviced rooms/apartments with a Homestay family. It is not exactly a Home Stay accommodation wherein you stay with the family in the same house but you can still get an experience of a typical homestay. The Family has a large house in which they rent out a few rooms to travelers and volunteers. Such an arrangement gives the volunteers a chance to experience the local culture, traditions and Indian way of life but at the same time be independent.
Accommodation is very basic unlike what volunteers are used to and volunteers generally share room/bathroom with fellow volunteers. Meals are served is a restaurant or with the Homestay which uses the traditional methods of cooking (Firewood).
Cultural Activities :
Our program in Dharamsala includes Local sightseeing (with a possibility of Meeting the Karmapa), orientation to the life, greetings, and customs to help volunteers settle in. We have also included in our program 4 – 5 times a week Yoga and/or Language lessons with Once a week Tibetan Cooking Lessons. These are specially included to give our volunteers a chance to learn and experience the rich culture of India. Yoga classes are beginner level and Language taught is Hindi. Volunteers also have a chance to learn Indian cooking at the Homestay. Apart from our program, inclusive activities Volunteers are encouraged to extract and learn as much as they while they are staying in Dharamsala.
Volunteers generally spend the weekends relaxing, shopping and exploring the city of Dharamsala and surroundings. Our program in Dharamsala includes a 1-weekend excursion trekking to Triund. It is one of the most famous treks in the Foothills of the Himalayas with Amazing Views. Volunteers are also encouraged to visit the nearby cities, which are famous tourist spots in India and make perfect weekend getaways. Some of the weekend end getaways are Amritsar, Rishikesh, Bir & Billing, Palampur, Baijnath, Chandigarh, Manali, etc. Volunteers who are spiritually included can participate in Weekend Meditation and Yoga camps which are in abundance in Dharamsala.
Local Coordinator :
Vikas has been managing our volunteers in Dharamsala since 2010. A native of Dharamsala, he holds a Masters degree in Tourism from Chandigarh. Very popular among our volunteers, He lives in the village of Bhagsu Nag, which is a part of Dharamsala, with his family. Apart from managing our volunteers Vikas also runs a Fast food joint and a Guest House. He has extensive knowledge of various Buddhist and Hindu traditions and loves sharing it with our volunteers.
Program Fee and Start Dates :
Our projects in Dharamsala are available from March – Mid December, with no, have fixed start dates. Volunteers can start on any date of their preference. Though we do not have fixed start dates we prefer volunteers to arrive in India on Thursday or Friday, this provides the volunteers with an opportunity to relax, acclimatize and adjust to the new environment, weather, time zone, etc before starting work on Monday.
|Volunteering Period||Program Fee (USD)|
- Note : Apart from the above Program fee, a registration fee of $250 is required at the time of application to book your placement.
What does this program fee include?
Our programs are all inclusive they include everything from arrival till departure.
- Pre Departure information and support
- Airport pick upon arrival
- Overnight stay in Delhi (If required, depending upon arrival times)
- Transfer to Dharamsala via overnight Bus
- Home stay / Guest house Accommodation
- 2 or 3 meals per day while volunteering
- Orientation about Local life, customs, greetings etc.
- Yoga lessons 4-5 times per week
- Weekend trek to Triund
- Local Sightseeing
- Tibetan/India cooking lessons (once a week)
- In country support 24-7, emergency contact
- Return transfer to New Delhi via overnight Bus
What is NOT included?
- International Airfares
- Travel Insurance
- Visa and Visa extension fee
- Local transportation
- Airport Drop
- Personal expenses : Bottled water, Toiletries etc
- Weekend Trips