Destination Himalaya
Sanjay Saxena Conde Nast Top Travel Specialist for India, Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka
India, Tibet, Nepal & Sri Lanka

Munsel Ling School Spiti
- with Lama Tashi Namgyal

This Service Tour will take travelers to the high Spiti Valley (averaging an altitude of 12,500 ft), a breathtaking land set in the far reaches of North India’s Himalayan peaks.  Here, subsistence farmers cultivate small plots of land using snow melt from the Himalayas, while their sheep and yaks roam the valley slopes. 

The people of Spiti Valley live an idyllic life in many ways, but due to proximity to the sensitive Tibetan border,  India imposed strict travel restrictions on the Spiti Valley, and the residents found themselves isolated for decades. This isolation, which preserved the Spiti culture and traditions, also left the children far behind, without opportunity for education. 

A monk, Lama Tashi Namgyal (an Honoree at the 2009 "Unsung Heroes of Compassion" presided by His Holiness the Dalai Lama), recognized that something must be done about this deficit and, in 1996, opened a school in Spiti Valley itself.  This school is called Munsel-Ling or “Place Illuminating the Darkness” and has been tremendously successful. A girl from the first graduating class of the Munsel-Ling school was recently accepted to medical school. 

This is our most physically demanding Service tour, as we will spend a great deal of time above 12,000 feet. Volunteer travelers will work in the school providing English Language, Mathematic and Computer instruction. On the weekend, when school is closed, we will visit the region's geograhic, cultural and spiritual sites. There will also be time to relax and simply savor the stunning views of the valley and the surrounding Himalayas.

All interests and backgrounds are welcome on this Service Tour. A educational background is not necessary, but those with teaching experience will have the opportunity to help train local teachers. Professional medical expertise is always welcome.

Outline Itinerary

Day 1 (Fri): DEPART USA

Day 2 (Sat): EN ROUTE TO INDIA - If taking one of the non-stop flights to India you will arrive Delhi late tonight. Other flights from the USA arrive early morning of Day 3.

Day 3 (Sun) ARRIVE DELHI – Most international flights arrive Delhi very early in the morning. You will be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel. A relaxed day to help get over jet lag. Orientation meeting in the evening followed by a welcome dinner.

Day 4 (Mon): TO MANALI – This morning we take the flight to Kulu in Himachal Pradesh.  We will be met on arrival and transferred to Manali in the foothills of the Himalaya. In the afternoon we will enjoy a short hike to the Hadimba Temple, as we acclimate to the 6,324 ft altitude of Manali. 

Day 5 (Tue): TO KAZA – Morning drive to Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti district, situated on the banks of River Spiti.  Kaza is a major stopover and trading center of this region.

Day 6 (Wed): REACH RANGRIK VILLAGE / SPITI - Today's short drive brings us to the largest village of Spiti and the site of the Munsel-Ling School. After meeting with the Principal of the school, we delve into our teaching duties.

Days 7 & 8 (Thu & Fri): AT MUNSEL-LING SCHOOL - These two days are spent assisting the faculty teaching English Language, Mathematics, and Computer instruction. 

Days 9, 10 (Sat & Sun): DAY EXCURSIONS - With the school being closed for the weekend, we head out to explore the greater Spiti Valley. Visits to the 1,000-year-old Kye Monastery, with its wonderful thangka collection, and the village of Kibber, at 13,800’, the highest permanent settlement in the region. We also hike to the turquoise waters of Lake Chandertal.

Days 11, 12, 13 (Mon - Wed): AT MUNSEL-LING SCHOOL - These two days are spent assisting the faculty teaching English Language, Mathematic and Computer instruction. 

Day 14 (Thu): RETURN TO MANALI - A long day's drive brings us back to the Hill Station town of Manali.  

Day 15 (Fri): RETURN TO DELHI – We fly back to Delhi. We will have a closing meeting on the two week’s activities followed by a farewell dinner.

Day 16 (Sat): DAY IN DELHI / DEPART FOR USA – We have the day to see sites in Delhi. After dinner transfer to the airport for our return flight to the USA.

Day 17 (Sun): ARRIVE USA

Click here, If you are unable to join us on this tour, but would still like to make a donation towards this project.

Other Voluntourism Trips:
  • Deepthy School for handicapped
    This 10 day service trip is also in Kerala, and spends time working at the Deepthy Special School in Kottayam, a “home and school for intellectually disabled children.”  

  • Bishnoi Tribal Project – North India
    The Bishnoi Tribes living in the Thar desert of Rajasthan are known as great conservationists, to whom the protection of animal and vegetable life is a religion.
  • Medical Boat in the Sunderbans
    The Sunderban Islands lie off the shores of India and Bangladesh, where the Ganga River pours itself into the Bay of Bengal.  This service trip (no medical expertise required) travels by boat to assist the millions of farmers and fishermen who eke out a living on small islands
  • Schools of Kerala
    This two week trip extends the Deepthy School trip itinerary and includes visiting and working in three other primary Schools in the Marari and Kumarakom regions of Kerala.

Call us toll free at 1-800 MY INDIA (1-800-694-6342) or email us to request a detailed day-to-day itinerary.

" The greatest happiness comes from helping others."
- Lama Tashi Namgyal

Photo of Rajasthani camel rider at Pushkar camel fair by Gillian Marshall
Lama Tashi Namgyal

Kye & Tabo Monasteries
Remote Buddhist Villages
High Altitude Camping
Volunteer Work

It's Included:
Medical & evacuation insurance
Accommodation in best available Hotels and Private Deluxe Camp
All ground transportation, local guides and entrance fees
All meals after arrival in India

2015 Departures:
1st Friday of the month
June – September

2015 Land Cost:
2-5 participants: $4885
6+ participants: $4485

Photo of Idmad ud daula, Petite Taj, by Sanjay SaxenaKindergarten Class

Photo of Rajasthani woman by Gillian MarshallMorning assembly

Photo of Rajasthani camel rider at Pushkar camel fair by Gillian Marshall
Kye monastery with the village below (green patch)

Buddha statue above the Munsel-Ling School
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