Summer Volunteering in Ladakh
Ladakh is our most popular destination for summer volunteering owing to its pleasant summer weather. Ladakh is the highest plateau of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. For summer volunteer abroad, it is among the best places in India.
Part fantasy, part reality, Ladakh, is where, the forces of nature conspired to render a magical unrealistic landscape, a landscape of extremes, desert, and blue waters, burning sun and freezing winds, glaciers and sand dunes. A primeval battleground of the titanic forces, which gave birth to the Himalayas.
Ladakh is a region in India totally isolated from the modern world, it was opened to tourists in the last decade. Authentic land, it is faithful to ancestral customs where life is characterized by intense spirituality. Even an Indian traveler will probably find no similarities in the land and people between the ones he leaves behind and those he encounters in Ladakh. Rich traditions of Mahayana Buddhism still flourish in the purest form in this region, which has often been referred to as Little Tibet. It is one of the last civilizations to come in contact with the modern world, making it perfect for a summer volunteer abroad project. It is the perfect place to experience the Buddhist culture and traditions persevered in its most raw form.
Ladakh is a high altitude desert as the Himalayas create a rain shadow, denying entry to monsoon clouds. The weather is thus dry, cool and free from rains even during the peak monsoon season of July – August. The perfect summer weather combined with the Arid Himalayan landscape and the preserved Buddhist culture makes Ladakh the best location in India to volunteer during the summer months.
Our program in Ladakh is involved with the Nuns is based in Ladakh and involves working with monasteries and nunnery which are specially set up to impart the monastic as well modern secular education to child monks and nuns. The monastic way of life is an important and integral part of Buddhism, which has been preached for ages. But with the advent of the modern world and new technologies, many realized the importance of modern and secular education to help the nuns and monks enjoy equal status and respect in society.
For long Nuns in Ladakh did not have the status nor the opportunity to study and practice the Buddha’s teachings in an organized way. There was no proper nunnery which could offer much-needed support. Most of the nuns were restricted to hold chores and treated mostly as maidservants.
Our project has setup nunnery and monastery for monks who would like to lead the Monastic but at the same time use modern education as a tool to equip them with the tools to develop and grow to their fullest potential and offer their services for the development of their fellow sisters/brother in the remote and neglected communities.
Our volunteers work with the local organization to offer much need support and help to the nuns living there. The monks and nuns receive an innovative and comprehensive training program. They study and practice the teachings of the Buddha as preserved in the Pali language, Tipitika. However, they also receive a complete, modern secular. Volunteers work hand-in-hand with the local staff to help with the general management of the monastery/nunnery, English conversational skills, computers, games, painting, music, etc. Female volunteers are especially encouraged to discuss with the nuns about personal hygiene, sanitation, the importance of education, etc. Volunteers work in the evening after school hours from 5 – 9 PM and stay at the project site with male volunteers staying at the monastery and the female at the Nunnery. Volunteers can combine this with working for 1- 2 hours in the morning, helping with administrative work in the office, setting up the library, teaching at the school, etc.
It’s a very tough project both mentally and physically, because of the remote location of Leh as well as the cultural differences between Ladakh and the west. Volunteers are required to have an ability to work unguided at the grass root level, be very proactive, open-minded and sensitive towards eastern cultures, traditions, and work ethics.
Depending upon project requirements accommodation in Leh is either a typical Homestay in Leh city or Hostel/Guest House at Project location. Home stay gives the volunteers a chance to experience the local culture, traditions and Indian way of life. Home cooked delicious India food is a bonus. Home stays are very basic unlike what volunteers are used to and volunteers generally share room/bathroom with fellow volunteers. Toilets may be an open pit (Eco Toilets). Host families are carefully selected by us on the basis of their ability to handle and host international volunteers but because of the cultural difference settling in needs some adjustments. It is a wonderful experience for anyone who really wishes to enjoy and explore India on a deeper level than the general tourist.
Accommodation at Project site is with the Girls/Boys Hostel where volunteers have a private room to themselves. Rooms are very basic with a private or shared bathroom. Female volunteers have the option of staying at the nunnery at the project site with a private room whereas male volunteers can stay at the Monastery for Child monks.
Cultural Activities :
Ladakh is famous for its preserved Buddhist traditions and volunteers are encouraged to learn and experience the same. Our program in Ladakh includes Local sightseeing, 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 Meditation 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. Apart from our program, inclusive activities Volunteers can take part in meditation camps/retreats, yoga courses, Tibetan cooking, Ayurveda, etc. Leh is flooded with people from all across India offering various courses and programs for volunteers to participate in.
Volunteers generally spend the weekends relaxing, shopping and exploring the city of Leh and its nearby sights. Some of the famous tourist spots are Leh Palace, Thiksey Gompa, Khardungla Pass, Shey, Hemis. Ladakh has plenty of options for adventure lovers. White Water Rafting and Trekking: Ladakh is also one of the most famous destinations for White water rafting and trekking in India. Volunteers are also encouraged to visit the nearby cities which are of great cultural and Spiritual Importance: Lamayuru, Alchi, Hundar, Likir, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, etc. Volunteers who are spiritually inclined can participate in weekend Meditation camps. Our program coordinators are always willing to help, plan and organize your weekends.
Local Coordinator :
LobazangVisudhda: Or Visudha as he prefers to be called has been managing our volunteers in Ladakh for the past 4 years. Very popular in Leh, he is a Social Worker, Politician, Practicing Buddhist, adventure enthusiast, and Travel Consultant. He is the founding member of many NGO’s in Ladakh and still plays a key role in their day to their functioning. Very spiritual, he loves conversation on Karma and Buddhist and is often seen teaching the traditions of Buddhism to our volunteers. Apart from managing our volunteers in Leh, He also runs an alternate travel company.
Program Fee and Start Dates :
Our project in Ladakh are available from March – Mid October, 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 Ladakh via domestic flight
- Home stay / Guest house Accommodation
- 2 or 3 meals per day while volunteering
- Orientation about Local life, customs, greetings etc.
- Local Sightseeing
- Tibetan/India cooking lessons (once a week)
- In country support 24-7, emergency contact
- Return transfer to New Delhi
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