As well as offering services to the local community, Lha is happy to offer services to visitors to Dharamsala. Taking part in these services gives visitors a chance to experience Tibetan culture firsthand, to be surrounded by Tibetan ritual, to learn, to connect with and support the refugee community and to volunteer on community projects. Visitors to Dharamsala come from many different countries and diverse backgrounds. We have found that our visitors share a common eagerness to learn, and aim to make the best use of their time whilst they are here.
Whether you are here for one week or one year, by volunteering or taking a course you are directly benefiting the local community. Profits of all courses and services for visitors directly benefit the community by supporting ongoing projects and the operation and management of Lha.
Lha offers you the opportunity to share your knowledge and skills with the Tibetan refugee, local Indian and Himalayan communities and gain hands-on experience working with a non-profit, social work organization. Whilst taking part as a volunteer at Lha you will be immersed in the fascinating culture of the people you are serving, develop friendships, learn about issues facing the Tibetan refugee community and create positive change in the lives of many people. Every year approximately 600 individuals from all over the world volunteer their time and energy to Lha. We provide a wide array of long and short-term as well as prearranged and drop-in volunteer opportunities at no cost to both individuals and groups.
click here to learn more about volunteering
Our cultural exchange program involves each visitor pairing off with a 'Mutual Learning Partner' – a Tibetan English language student at Lha. Most of the students are not fluent in English but they are all very enthusiastic about learning and sharing their knowledge with others. They can share stories about their lives and experiences. Most of the students are between the ages of 20 and 40. Visiting students get to visit the homes of their new friends, meet members of their family, and make friends in the Tibetan refugee community.
click here to learn more about our cultural exchange program
Lha arranges homestays of one month with Tibetan refugee families. By sharing meals and day to day life with a Tibetan family, your cultural experience will be intensified. If you are interested in the Tibetan language, you will be able to practice your language skills in the home. This homestay program can give you unforgettable insights into ritual, family and life "behind closed doors" in the Tibetan refugee community – and hopefully help you make friends for life. (See more Homestay and apply)
* Note – all profits received for services go directly into the social service programs supported by Lha. A wonderful opportunity is waiting for you, so come and join our friendly team of staff and volunteers at Lha! See Related Information: Advice for Volunteers, Guide for Volunteers, About Dharamshala
click here to learn more about our home stay with Tibetan family
Tibetan Language Class
Lha offers individual and group Tibetan language classes to foreigners, ranging from basic to advanced levels. There are about 20 to 30 foreigners learning the Tibetan language each year at Lha, where there are between three and seven Tibetan classes operating on a daily basis, depending on demand.
Many visitors learn the Tibetan language to understand and study the Tibetan Buddhist religion more comprehensively and/or to become a translator. Buddhist texts are in the Tibetan language, and many high Lamas can only speak Tibetan.
Visitors have also mentioned the benefit of garnering new forms of knowledge which may only be printed or spoken in Tibetan, and experiencing a rich cultural experience through learning this intriguing language.
Many people have wanted to learn about the Tibetan people and culture since the situation in Tibet has gained global attention. Learning and practicing the Tibetan language gives foreigners the key to learning about Tibetan issues from a Tibetan perspective; speaking and understanding the Tibetan language gives foreigners a unique opportunity the listen to the thoughts, opinions and perspectives of the Tibetan people - especially those who cannot speak English. Register Now.
Tibetan Cooking Class
In cooking class with Lha you will expand your cooking repertoire whilst helping to preserve the art of traditional Tibetan cuisine. Each class has a maximum of 5 students in our small kitchen ensuring you are given careful instruction by our skilled Tibetan cook whilst cooking a Tibetan delicacy. You are given the choice of three vegetarian options: Momo, noodle soup or steam bread. Once your delicious dish is prepared you will be able to test and enjoy it, and if you choose, to share it amongst the friendly staff and volunteers at Lha. No cooking experience is required. To register, please contact the Lha reception office or register online at least 2-3 hours beforehand.
Tibetan Art Classes
Learn the basic techniques drawing, painting, and the use of color. This course is for interested individual and small groups and is taught by a professional and qualified artist. Lha has an exchange program for Traditional Tibetan and Western arts. To date, hundreds of people have participated in this cross-cultural opportunity at Lha. Register Now.
Lha has two community libraries, located in McLeod Ganj and the Tibetan colony of Tso Pema. Lha's libraries are the only collections of books available to the community in these locations.
Our McLeod Ganj library is well stocked with teaching aids for volunteer teachers and also houses a good collection of novels and non-fiction literature. In addition, the library contains a section dedicated to books about the fundamentals of Buddhism, meditation and happiness. Borrowing is free for all.
The library is a comfortable room equipped with a sofa and chairs, providing a quiet location for people to read or study. The library offers filtered water for Rs. 5, and is also an official distribution outlet for the renowned (and free) Contact Magazine, a Dharamsala community publication.
Lha also set up a new community library in Tso Pema (Rewalsar), which opened on September 31st, 2006. The library provides books and information for the local population about all things Tibetan. There is space for people to meet and have chai at the drop-in room. The library contains a good fiction section, and books on a multitude of subjects.
Tso Pema is a place of pilgrimage for both Tibetans and Sikhs. A place of beauty with friendly and welcoming people, it contains a sacred lake, three Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and many caves, one of which a Tibetan Buddhist monk has lived in for over 20 years. Currently, a new statue of Guru Rinpoche is being built.
If you should be fortunate enough to visit Tso Pema, please consider either donating your time, books, magazines or anything else that you may have that is useful to the new Lha library at Tso Pema. All donations will be gratefully received. Please smile at everyone!
Massage Therapy & Training
Lha offers massage treatments and training courses for Tibetan refugees and visitors
Massage treatments are provided by professionally trained massage therapists with many years of experience. We have both male and female therapists offering a combination of Swedish and remedial massage using traditional Tibetan healing oils. In our dedicated massage space, we have quality massage beds and chairs in a rejuvenating atmosphere - assisting you to get the most out of your physical treatment.
Please make an appointment at Lha reception or register online at least one or two hours before your massage.
Contact Magazine is a free monthly publication of Lha Charitable Trust, a Tibetan grassroots nonprofit based in Dharamsala, India. Recognized by Lonely Planet and other international travel resources, Contact has been a popular source for Tibetan issues and community information in Dharamsala for over 14 years. It is one of the longest running Tibetan publications in the area and provides local residents and international visitors with news and resources relevant to the Dharamsala community.
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