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Training Workshop for Interns and Volunteers (19-24 Aug 2019)


Event: Volunteer work period, beginning with a six-day training workshop (residential)

Topic: Earthen building, organic gardening, and permaculture landscaping

When: 19th–24th August 2019 (must attend from the start and remain for the duration), followed by a practicum until at least 7th September, with the option to extend by one more week until 14th September 2019 (minimum time commitment is three weeks, including the training, so all participants will stay on to volunteer until at least 7th September).

Language: English (with Hindi translation if requested)

Facilitators: Dharmalaya Institute’s artisans and interns

Description: Volunteer work period, beginning with a six-day residential workshop to provide introductory hands-on training in some of the foundational skills of earthen building, organic gardening, and permaculture landscaping as practiced at Dharmalaya Institute, followed by at least three weeks of volunteer work. The actual training activities wiill depend on weather and the needs on site at the time, and might include mud plastering, flooring, fine finishing, etc.). There will be an extended practicum after the workshop supporting participants to deepen your skills and understanding further through practice on site. Note: The minimum commitment for all participants in this workshop is to stay as a volunteer until at least 7th September, and for those who wish to stay one more week it is possible to stay until 14th September.

What is ‘natural building’ and why should I care? See this page for an introduction.

After the introductions, orientation and general overview of the programme, the workshop will focus primarily on hands-on training and practice, supported by basic discussion of theory and philosophy.

The hands-on work will include various projects around the Dharmalaya campus, including interior work on several earthen structures that are in various stages of completion, as well as organic gardening, tree planting, and other permaculture projects. We provide training in some of the fundamental techniques, and then step back and give everyone time and space to practice them by working alongside our team of village artisans.

For those who wish to practice yoga and/or meditation, our meditation hall will be available in the mornings before breakfast and in the evenings after the evening sessions.

Activities might include the following (depending on weather and circumstances)

  • Hands-on training in Kangra-style neo-traditional earthen architecture, which may include (depending on circumstances):
    • Making proper earthen mixes using local best practices
    • Earthen renders (mud plasters)
    • Wood/bamboo finishing work (sanding, varnishing, etc.)
    • Flooring (soling, slate tiling, polishing, etc.)
  • Water management (possibly drainage and gutter work, rainwater harvesting, etc.)
  • Tree planting and tree care
  • Organic gardening or tree planting (weather permitting)
  • Other activities depending on the weather and the needs on site at the time

What to expect

  • Rustic forested setting with a clean and simple ashram lifestyle in which everyone contributes to the running of the place, including cooking, cleaning, washing dishes and toilets, etc.
  • The days will be completely full: You’ll wake up early, work hard till 5:00pm, and then the evenings during the intensive training week will be occupied with presentations and discussions.
  • You’ll spend the whole twelve days at the Dharmalaya Institute without leaving, in order to make the most of our short time together, and for the first six days you won’t have much personal time. So, prepare yourself mentally for being focused and squeezing the maximum learning out of every moment.
  • You will be working with your hands and body (including plenty of honest hard work!) for approximately six or seven hours per day on most days of the programme, so it is strongly recommended to be in reasonably good physical fitness when you arrive, and you should bring work clothes.
  • Architecture and design students please note: The focus is not on design, but rather on doing real-world work to gain understanding of the materials, methods, and underlying principles of vernacular eco-architecture.

Special note for architects and others interested in natural building
: This is a very short introductory training, and only a few elements of earthen building practice can be covered in such a short span of time. For those who are serious about learning and practicing the techniques of earthen building, we strongly recommend staying as long as poossible after the end of the programme to volunteer during the extended practicum period so that you can deepen your understanding and improve your skills by doing real-world, hands-on work alongside our local village artisans here on the Dharmalaya campus. An even more comprehensive option for those with serious interest is to take multiple workshops and consider applying for our Internship in Vernacular Eco-Architecture and/or our Earthen Masonry Training Course


The total fee for the six-day training is Rs 6000/-, inclusive of tuition, healthy meals, and comfortable accommodation in shared dormitories (and sometimes a private room may be available at additional cost). Transportation costs are not included. For participants with unusual financial hardship, a limited number of work-study positions are available (please contact us for details).

(Note: The costs during the practicum period that follows the six-day training are lower, as per the Institute’s standard sliding scale. See this page for details.)

Important Information

Before you pack for your trip to Dharmalaya Institute, please read the very important information on our Visitor Info page and our FAQ. If you have a specific question that is not answered there, contact us here and we’ll be happy to answer.

NOTE FOR STUDENTS SEEKING CERTIFICATES: This is not a certificate course. No certificate or letter will be provided (no exceptions).

Application, Registration & Deposit

Enrolment in this training is by application only and space is very limited, so advance registration and 50% nonrefundable deposit (Rs 3000) are required. Registrations are confirmed only after receiving the deposit, on a first-come-first-served basis. To apply, use this form. If we approve your application, we will reply with further instructions and information. The remaining balance of Rs 3000 will be payable upon arrival at Dharmalaya Institute (so be sure to bring enough cash with you). Alternatively, you could pay the full amount all at once in advance, if that is better for you than carrying cash.

Note: Please mention your proposed departure date in your application.

For Participants with Indian Rupee Bank Accounts

You can make your nonrefundable 50% deposit either by in-person deposit at any HDFC branch, or electronically by bank transfer (intra-bank transfer for HDFC accounts, or NEFT for non-HDFC accounts). We will send bank details after your application is approved.

For Participants without Indian Rupee Bank Accounts

After we have approved your application and requested you to make the deposit, you can make your non-refundable 50% deposit securely by credit card, debit card, eCheck, or Payal. Just click the button below:

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