A Renaissance of Vernacular Eco-Architecture

DharmalayaBir (HP) — India is playing host to the birth of a renaissance of vernacular eco-architecture. Hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds are awakening to both the urgent socio-ecological crises of our time and the potential for us to find solutions in India’s own rural traditions.

Case in point: To preserve and advance the distinctive and beautiful forms of traditional earthen architecture of the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, the Dharmalaya Institute, in partnership with esteemed vernacular architect Didi Contractor, established a formal, academically-supervised Internship in Vernacular Eco-Architecture in May 2013.

Not quite two years later, the Dharmalaya Institute has grown to become one of the most popular vernacular architecture training centres in India and South Asia. Though it has not yet even completed the construction of its campus, it has already attracted scores of architects and civil engineers from across India, Europe, the Americas, and Australia, most of whom learned of the institute either through the recommendations of their architecture professors or by word of mouth spreading far and wide among the green-minded designers and builders of India and beyond.

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Open Volunteer Period at Dharmalaya Institute (8 Dec – 6 Mar)

What: Informal, minimally-structured volunteer opportunities

Activities: Earthen building, organic gardening, and natural landscaping

When: 8 December 2014 through 6 March 2015 (Volunteers may arrive and depart anytime during this period)

Where: Dharmalaya Institute

Languages: English & Hindi

Facilitators: Various (Raju, Shekar, Sourabh, et al.)

Raising the roofDescription: Informal volunteer opportunities at the Dharmalaya Institute open to both residential and non-residential participants. During this period, there is no structured educational or training programme as such, but there is plenty of physical work to do — including earthen building (adobe, bamboo, etc.), organic gardening, natural landscaping and possibly some tree planting — and Dharmalaya is a beautiful place to get your hands dirty and learn about green living and Himalayan culture in the process.

Since there is no formal instruction during this period and there is no organised programme, one simply jumps in and does whatever needs doing on a given day, learning by watching others and then doing it yourself. In such an unstructured or loosely guided situation, sometimes one needs to ask for help if one needs it, so a certain degree of self-motivation and initiative makes for the best experience. It also helps to bring a healthy sense of flexibility, since the work to be done might vary from one day to the next, depending on circumstances. If that appeals to you, you’re welcome to come and go anytime during this period.

For more information see Dharmalaya’s volunteer page, read the FAQ, and then complete the volunteer application if you’re interesting in volunteering.

Sustainable Living Retreat (26 Nov – 6 Dec @ Dharmalaya)

2012 work retreat

What: Residential Retreat and Service-Learning Workshop
Topic: Sustainable Living in the Himalayas
Where: Dharmalaya Institute in HP, India
When: 26 November – 6 December 2014
Language: English (and Hindi if requested)
Facilitators: Mark Moore, Sourabh Phadke, et al.

Description: A ten-day inner/outer adventure in sustainable and compassionate living, providing opportunities for hands-on learning of various skills and concepts related to traditional earthen building, organic gardening, and natural landscaping, integrated with mindfulness, meditation and other inner explorations.

Workshops and groups sessions may include the following:

  • Hands-on education in traditional earthen architecture of the Himalayas
  • Natural landscaping and organic gardening
  • Meditation and yoga/chi kung (morning/evening sessions)

Cost: Rs 1200 per day (Rs 12,000 total) including comfortable tent/dormitory accommodation and healthy meals.

Information & Registration
For details and registration, visit the Dharmalaya Institute’s website.

Sustainable Living Work Retreat (25 Mar – 4 Apr @ Dharmalaya)

2012 work retreat

What: Service-Learning Retreat with SanghaSeva
Topic: Living in Balance: Contemplation, Compassion, and Sustainability
WhereDharmalaya Institute in Bir, HP, India
When: March 25 to April 4, 2014
Language: English
Facilitators: Zohar Lavie, Nathan Glyde, Mark Moore, Mai-Linh Leminhbach

Description: Residential service-learning retreat program at the Dharmalaya Institute. Possible workshops and groups sessions include the following:

  • Hands-on education in traditional earthen architecture of the Himalayas
  • Organic gardening and permaculture landscaping
  • Meditation and yoga/movement
  • A mixture of silent practice and group connection and activity

Please note: Space is limited, so advance registration and deposit are required.

For details and registration, please visit the SanghaSeva website.

Silent Meditation Retreat (17-24 March at Dharmalaya)

Group Sit

What: Silent Meditation Retreat with SanghaSeva
WhereDharmalaya Institute in Bir, HP, India
When: 17-24 March 2014
Who: Zohar Lavie & Nathan Glyde
Language: English

Description: Residential silent meditation retreat led by Zohar Lavie and Nathan Glyde of SanghaSeva. Simple accommodation in tents/dormitory in a beautiful Himalayan setting.

Note: Space is limited, so advance registration and deposit are required. 

For details and registration, please visit the SanghaSeva website.

Open Volunteer Period at Dharmalaya (1 Dec 2013 – 15 Mar 2014)

What: Informal, minimally structured volunteer opportunities for sustainable living
When: 1 December 2013 through 15 March 2014 (Participants may arrive and depart anytime during this period)
Where: Dharmalaya Institute
Languages: English & Hindi
Facilitators: Raj Kumar, Naresh Sharma, et al (plus Mark Moore from 1-15 March)

Description: Informal volunteer opportunities at the Dharmalaya Institute open to both residential and non-residential participants. During this period, there is no educational or training programme as such, but there is plenty of physical work to do — including green building, organic gardening, natural landscaping and possibly some tree planting — and Dharmalaya is a beautiful place to get your hands dirty and learn a bit about green living and Himalayan culture in the process.

Since there is no formal instruction during this period and there is no organised programme, one simply jumps in and does whatever needs doing on a given day, learning by watching others and then doing it yourself. In such an unstructured or loosely guided situation, sometimes one needs to ask for help if one needs it, so a certain degree of self-motivation and initiative makes for the best experience. It also helps to bring a healthy sense of flexibility, since the work to be done might vary from one day to the next, depending on circumstances. If that appeals to you, you’re welcome to come and go anytime between 1 December 2013 and 15 March 2014. Please note that this is the winter season, so bring warm clothes.

For more information see Dharmalaya’s volunteer page, read the FAQ, and complete the volunteer application if you’re interesting in joining.

Volunteer & Learn: Sustainable Living in the Himalayas (1-30 Nov)

What: Informal volunteer and service-learning programme

Topic: Sustainable living in the Himalayas, including green building, organic gardening, and natural landscaping

When: 1-30 November, 2013 (Participants may arrive and depart anytime in this period)

Where: Dharmalaya Institute, Dhanaari Hill, Ghornala Village, Bir

Languages: English & Hindi

Facilitators: Mark Moore, Raj Kumar (‘Raju’), Naresh Sharma, et al

raising the roofDescription: Informal, semi-structured programme at the Dharmalaya Institute open to both residential and non-residential participants. We will be doing fun, physical work, including green building, organic gardening, tree planting, and more. There will be plenty of opportunities for learning, application, questions, and relaxation (we can also offer an optional meditation programme for those who are interested, at least through 30 November, and possibly later). Feel free to come and go anytime in November 2013 (and you can stay even longer if you wish to participate in our Open Volunteer Programme).

For more information see Dharmalaya’s volunteer page, read the FAQ, and complete the volunteer application if you’re interesting in joining.

Sustainable Living in the Himalayas: Volunteer Programme at Dharmalaya (15 Feb – 10 Mar)

What: Informal volunteer and service-learning programme
Topic: Sustainable living in the Himalayas, including green building, organic gardening, and permaculture landscaping
When: 15 February to 10 March, 2013 (Participants may arrive and depart anytime in this period)
Where: Dharmalaya Institute
Languages: English & Hindi
Facilitators: Mark Moore, Raj Kumar, Naresh Sharma, et al

Description: Informal programme at the Dharmalaya Institute open to both residential and non-residential participants. We will be doing fun, physical work, including green building, organic gardening, tree planting, and more. There will be plenty of opportunities for learning, application, questions, and relaxation. Feel free to come and go anytime between 15 February and 10 March.

For more information see Dharmalaya’s volunteer page, read the FAQ, and complete the volunteer application if you’re interesting in joining us.

Weekly Meditation Group at Dharmalaya (April & May)

What: Weekly Meditation & Discussion Group
When: 5-6pm, every Sunday in April & May 2012
Where: Dharmalaya Institute
Who: Tergar Meditation Community

WEEKLY MEDITATION & DISCUSSION GROUPS

group sitDharmalaya Institute hosts weekly sitting meditation groups and Dharma discussions. These sessions, centred on the curriculum of the Tergar Meditation Community, are open to everyone. They are free of charge, with donations welcome but not required.

The current schedule for Dharmalaya’s weekly meditation and discussion groups is as follows: From 15 April to 27 May, 2012, we will meet every Sunday from 5:00pm to 6:00pm in the main hall at the Dharmalaya Institute in Bir (directions). For those who wish to stay longer for discussion, we can continue till 6:30 or so. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. Tea will be served.

Schedule

4:45: Arrive early, catch your breath, say hello
5:00: Opening with a selection from Mingyur Rinpoche’s writings
5:20: Group meditation (40 minutes)
6:00: Informal discussion and tea

More information: http://dharmalaya.in/meditation-programmes/

Sustainable Living in the Himalayas: Volunteer Programme at Dharmalaya (7 April – 31 May)

What: Informal volunteer and service-learning programme
Topic: Sustainable living in the Himalayas, including green building, organic gardening, and permaculture landscaping
When: 7 April to 31 May, 2012 (Participants may arrive and depart anytime in this period)
Where: Dharmalaya Institute
Languages: English & Hindi
Facilitators: Mark Moore, Naresh Sharma, et al

Description: Informal programme at the Dharmalaya Institute open to both residential and non-residential participants. We will be doing fun, physical work, including green building, organic gardening, tree planting, and more. There will be plenty of opportunities for learning, application, questions, and relaxation (we’re also doing an optional meditation programme for those who are interested). Feel free to come and go anytime between 7 April and 31 May. (And, if you don’t mind getting very wet, you might even stay on longer during the monsoon tree-planting season if you like.)

For more information see Dharmalaya’s volunteer page, read the FAQ, and complete the volunteer application if you’re interesting in joining us.