Other Options in Dharamsala
LHA Charitable True
Arranges positions at a variety of local community projects, including positions as computer teachers and English- and French-language teachers. A commitment of one month or more is required for serious vocational programs. Also offers private, one-on-one Tibetan-language classes for Rs100 per hour.
A place to donate a few days of your time to share your life story with refugees, helping improve their conversational English.
Established in 1991, Gu-Chu-Sum provides support to ex-political prisoners and their families and organizes campaigns for their release.
Location: Jogiwara Road.
Produces a local, grassroots, free community magazine. You can submit articles, proofread copy, or work on graphic design.
Aku Pema Performance Art
Established in 2000, Aku Pema Performance Art group aims to preserve traditional Tibetan art and culture. International visitors and volunteers are welcome to contribute and enjoy the cultural programs. They seek volunteers able to teach: group music and singing, English language (any level and age), and dancing (any style).
Location: Norbulingka Institute
Organizations such as the Tibetan Welfare Office, the Tibetan Library, the Tibetan Women’s Association, the Tibet Institute of Performing Arts, Tibet Museum, the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, various monasteries and nunneries, and offices of the Government-in-Exile also frequently offer volunteer opportunities.
Mcleod Ganj is home to countless yoga schools, offering Hatha, Ashtanga, and Kundalini yoga classes through daily drop-in sessions, as well as week-long intensive courses and teacher training courses that last a month or more. Classes, which cost Rs100 per session, are held in the morning, afternoon and evening at the following schools:
Universal Yoga (Highly recommended), with international classes and locations.
Location: Yongling School, Jogibara Rd.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Center
Location: Dharamkot Rd
Yogi Cottage (Yoga alliance approved, also offer reiki courses)
Location: Bhagsu Rd
Location: Thardoeling, Near HH Dalai Lama temple
Kailash School of Yoga & Holistic Healing
Location: 100 meters from main chowk.
Meditation & Buddhist Philosophy Courses
Tushita Meditation Centre
Tushita offers 10-day Introduction to Buddhism/meditation retreats, 8-day non-residential courses, and programs for advanced students, all in the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. Silence is the norm most of the day, but discussion groups do take place after philosophy lessons. The price of around Rs500 per day includes lodging, lessons, and three vegetarian meals a day.
Location: On the road between Dharamkot and Mcleod Ganj.
Vipassana Meditation Center
This center, located in nearby Dharamkot, runs austere 10-day vipassana (mindfulness) meditation retreats, during which you must remain completely silent. The retreats, which run from May to November, are intense (up to 14 hour days), but no previous meditation experience is required, as you will be asked to set aside any practice while learning the vipassana technique. It is recommended that beginners attend a course like those offered by Tushita — a mix of meditation, philosophy, and discussions. The retreat is free, but donations are welcome.
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives
Located inside the government compound at Gangchen Kyishong downhill from Mcleod Ganj, this library hosts a number of Buddhist philosophy courses throughout the year. Most teaching is in Tibetan with an English interpreter. Most courses last from two to three months and cost Rs200, in addition to the Rs50 registration fee. The library also runs long-term Tibetan- and Hindi-language courses for beginners and advanced students for Rs250 per month plus a Rs50 registration fee.
Besides the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, mentioned above, there are a number of independent Tibetan- and Hindi-language teachers about town. Teachers post signs everywhere, but to get a good idea of what is available before you come it is best to check Contact magazine (www.contactmag.org) for details. Other options include:
Tibetan Buddhism and language
The organization offers courses in Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Tibetan- and Hindi-language classes.
Mcleod Ganj is a great place to learn how to cook authentic Indian and Tibetan cuisine. Classes cover everything from Tofu Thukpa to South Indian Masala Dosas. Prices run about Rs250-500 per class, which usually last two hours. There are a number of entrepreneurs who run courses of dubious quality out of their homes, so it is best to be circumspect and stick with one of the following established kitchens:
Lha Charitable Trust
Offers courses on how to make different kinds of momos, Tibetan breads, and Tibetan noodles. Rs300 for a 2-hour class.
Location: Temple Road
The organization teaches traditional Tibetan vegetarian food with different courses every day, including soups, momos, and Tibetan bread. It all takes place in Lhamo's single room house right in the centre of town. Classes Rs250, 3-day courses Rs550.
Location: Bhagsu Rd
Mr Sangye's Kitchen
Tibetan food, with different courses every day.
Location: Joqibara Rd, next to Tashi Choeling Monastery. Classes Rs250.
The above list really just scrapes the surface of the courses on offer in Mcleod Ganj. A brisk stroll down Jogibara Road will also reveal classes on Tantra, Reiki, Tai Chi, swing dancing, woodcarving, painting, sound meditation, rebirthing, and a host of other New Age-oriented learning opportunities. Alternatively, if you are not into this type of spiritual experience, you could learn how to play the flute, guitar, or sitar, or take 5-day courses on traditional Thai, Tibetan or Ayurvedic massage, which run around Rs1800. Massage schools include Tibetan Universal Massage (www.tibetanmassage.com; Jogibara Road) and Massage Mantra (Jogibara Road).