Want to volunteer your precious vacation time & skills? A volunteer travel guide to India, brought to you by The Alternative and India Untravelled.

In the first ever chat on Twitter conducted by The Alternative along with India Untravelled (@IndiaUntravelled on Twitter), we discussed the prospects and popularity of ‘voluntourism’ or volunteer travel in India, especially those undertaken by Indians in the country or overseas.

Apart from the variety of experiences shared with the thrills and challenges involved, many questions steered towards information on organizations offering such an opportunity to travellers. You may read the selective transcript of the chat here.

This is a start up list of organizations in India, compiled by The Alternative and India Untravelled, either open to a helping hand as it comes by or offering volunteer programmes to travellers. Far from an exhaustive list, although we did an extensive preliminary research on places in all directions of the country, we’re happy to have you inform us of the many more places that incentivise the purpose of travel larger than leisure and beyond ‘the self’.



Location: Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.

Website: http://www.spitiecosphere.com

Overview: Spiti Ecosphere is a social enterprise that aims to create sustainable livelihoods that are linked to nature and culture conservation, by addressing the triple bottom-line of conservation, development and economies.

Minimum period of commitment: 4 days to 1 week, depending on the project.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Physical building of greenhouses & solar passive structures.
–       Volunteering with daily village activities.
–       Volunteering with Ecosphere’s day-to-day office work.

Good for
–       Environment enthusiasts
–       Mountain lovers
–       People with a medium fitness level

Costs: Boarding & travel not covered

Contact: Email [email protected]

2.    R.O.S.E – Rural Organization for Social Elevation

Location: Kanda, Uttarakhand, India

Website: http://www.rosekanda.info

Overview: R.O.S.E. works at grassroots level, with an aim to improve the health, education and quality of life of the rural poor in this region, while maintaining cultural integrity and ecological balance. This goal is realized through a programme which brings tourist volunteers to Kanda to live with the Verma family, experience local Kumaoni culture and assist financially (opportunity fee, rent, boarding / lodging & optional donation) and manually, in the rural development activities of R.O.S.E.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Physical building of community centres, bathrooms, etc.
–       Volunteering in tree plantations.

Good for: Environment enthusiastsMountain lovers

Costs: Boarding & travel not covered

Contact: [email protected]

3.    AAROHI

Location: Peora, Uttarakhand, India

Website: http://aarohi.org

Overview: Aarohi is a non-profit, grassroots organization committed to need-based and people-planned integrated rural development in the beautiful Central Himalayan region of Uttarakhand.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       doctors (general physicians and specialists)
–       community health managers
–       nurses
–       physiotherapists
–       teachers
–       art & craft and theatre persons
–       sports people
–       musicians
–       rural development professionals
–       managers
–       marketing persons

Good for:
–       Professionals
–       Mountain lovers

Costs: Boarding & travel not covered.

Contact: [email protected] 

4.    RACHNA

Location: Garhwal region, Uttarakhand, India

Website: http://www.rachnaonline.org

Overview: Research, Advocacy, and Communication in Himalayan Areas (RACHNA) is an independent entrepreneurial non-profit that works for conservation and sustainable development in the mighty Garhwal Himalayas. RACHNA is developing Home in the Himalayas (HITH) — a professionally-managed rural eco-tourism initiative, diversified and innovative green businesses, community based conservation plans and a green constituency for policy advocacy.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Helping with local tours
–       Running workshops on conservation

Good for: Mountain lovers

Costs: Not available.

Contact: Email [email protected]


Location: Breswana, Jammu and Kashmir.

Website: http://www.hajipublicschool.org

OverviewBreswana is a prototype of the average, remote, inaccessible village in the mountains of Doda in Jammu and Kashmir. The very first HAJI PUBLIC SCHOOL (a not-for-profit setup, with subsidised fees) under the Amina Trust umbrella was established here, and offers an immersion into the village life of Kashmir with teaching opportunities at its premises.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Short term & long term primary school volunteers
–       Medical / media activities

Good for: Teaching enthusiasts, Mountain lovers

Costs: Food and lodging provided to volunteers

Contact: [email protected]

6.    CHIRAG: Central Himalayan Rural Action Group

Location: Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Website: http://chirag.org

Overview: Chirag is a rural development organization based in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand They work closely with communities on issues relating to forestry, soil and water conservation, agriculture, animal husbandry, drinking water, health care, education and skill and knowledge development of young people, in 200 villages in Nainital, Bageshwar and Almora districts.

Nature of volunteering opportunities

Volunteers interested and/or trained in
–       health
–       hydro-geology
–       marketing
–       agriculture
–       education
–       teaching English
–       Information technology.

Contact: Email [email protected]

7.    LHA

Location: Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh

Website: http://www.lhasocialwork.org

Overview: Lha is a grassroots, non-governmental and non-profit social work organization based in Dharamsala, India. We aim to provide vital resources for Tibetan refugees, the local Indian population, and people from the Himalayan regions. Lha offers free English, French, Spanish and Chinese classes, cultural exchange programs, IT classes, vocational training, health and environmental awareness education, a wide array of volunteer opportunities, distribution of clothes and medicine, a community kitchen and many other programs and activities.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
Short term & long term opportunities, ranging from teaching & vocational training, to assistance in community related activities.

Contact: Email [email protected]

8.    SECMOL – The Students’ Educational And Cultural Movement Of Ladakh

Location: Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir.

Website: http://www.secmol.org

Overview: SECMOL was founded in 1988 by a group of young Ladakhis to reform the educational system of Ladakh. Its activities range from solar alternatives to youth camps, educational reforms and ecotourism. Around Ladakh with Students (ALS) is SECMOL’s travel arm, specialising in student groups interested in cultural exchange and environmental & development issues.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       People with teaching or ice skate coaching experience
–       Winter volunteers for English conversation or classes
–       Experienced science or maths teacher
–       Youth camp volunteers

Contact: Email [email protected] or just show up.

9.    WWF India – Green Hiker

Location: Himalayas

Website:  http://www.wwfindia.org/about_wwf/critical_regions/high_altitude_wetlands/green_hiker/

Overview: The Green Hiker Campaign is WWF’s initiative to encourage tourists and tour operators in the Himalayan region to opt for sustainable and responsible tourism. Covering almost the entire Himalayan region, WWF aims at reducing the baggage of tourism while inviting tourists to enjoy the Himalayas in its pristine form.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
– Mountain cleaning expeditions
– Online advocates


10. Druk White Lotus School

Location: Ladakh

Website: http://www.dwls.org

Overview: Locally known as the Druk Padma Karpo Institute, this school is Location the last scene of 3 Idiots (the Aamir Khan movie) was shot. The main school is located in Shey (the ancient capital of Ladakh), about 30 minutes’ drive up the Indus Valley from the main town of Leh.  A branch school opened in Khachhey in April 2010. Students study Bothi (the local language), English and Hindi languages, plus sciences, social studies, creative arts and sports. They learn life and livelihood skills, including team work, presentation skills, leadership and problem solving through formal and co-curricular activities.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Teacher Resource Centre, including teacher training
–       Sponsor a day pupil or a remote area student from a disadvantaged family
–       Completion of the Secondary School and related infrastructure
–       Landscaping of the school campus and creation of sports facilities

Contact: [email protected] 

11. Ladli

Location:Jaipur, Rajasthan

Website: http://ladli.org/

Vocational training programme for abused, orphaned and destitute children.

Minimum period of commitment: Flexible from a week to a year

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       teach the children English and Art or Crafts
–       lead them in exercise or dance or simply play
–       if you have jewellery or textile experience you can show the children new designs and techniques.

Contact: [email protected]

12. Sambhali Trust

Location: Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India.

Website: http://www.sambhali-trust.org/

Overview: Working with Dalit (lower-caste) women and girls, both in Jodhpur and Setrawa Village using education and vocational training to empower them

Minimum period of commitment: Two weeks

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
The Sambhali Trust seeks volunteers and interns (unpaid), to help with administration, workshops, teaching, and provide new ideas. We seek volunteers and interns to not only help us run the Hindi, English, sewing, arts and craft workshops, but to also help with administrative work, and to expand workshops with new ideas

Contact: [email protected]


13. Volunteer Opportunities in Trafficking

Location: Kolkatta

Website: http://goindia.about.com/od/volunteering/tp/Kolkata-Volunteer-Trafficking.htm

Overview: Many non-profit organizations in Kolkatta (Calcutta) are doing inspiring work to rehabilitate women and children victimized by Kolkata’s red light districts, and the problem of prostitution and trafficking, as well as to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Each organization listed on the site has different types of programs, so see which appeals the most to you.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Dance therapy volunteers.
–       Education, health care, legal aid volunteers.
–       Vocational training volunteers.
–       Youth group & support group volunteers.

Through the websites of the individual organizations (click link about to see)

14. Dakshinayan

Location: Jharkhand

Website: http://www.dakshinayan.org

Overview: Dakshinayan works in the picturesque, forest-covered Rajmahal Hills, inhabited by the Paharia who coexist in harmony and are inter-dependent on each other. The Paharias practice shifting cultivation and are partly hunter-gatherers. Dakshinayan’s work in the region is mainly in education, health care, self-reliance and utilization of available resources. It trains young men & women to run schools in the region, provide first aid and fever treatment, impart health education, motivate the villagers to undertake conservation work and set up village committees, women’s groups and youth groups.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
Volunteers can enrol in Dakshinayan’s Development Education Programme, which aims to promote better understanding of development and inter-cultural issues, and teach basic English or Math to school kids.

Contact: [email protected]

15. Sikkim Himalayan Academy (DPC Academy)

 Location: Sikkim

Website: http://www.sikkimacademy.com

Overview: The Sikkim Himalayan Academy is a non-profit school that offers education and living opportunities to underprivileged children from remote areas of Sikkim. The landscapes here are truly beautiful, and the school is well run. It was set up in 2002 by a group of local Sikkimese teachers and a few Dutch volunteers. The school seeks to provide good quality education, healthy and balanced lifestyle, and a positive learning environment, which emphasizes traditional Sikkim culture and languages.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
– English teaching volunteers

Contact: sikkimac[email protected]

16. Root Institute

Location: Bodhgaya, Bihar

Website: http://www.rootinstitute.com

Overview: Root Institute is a socially inclined Buddhist meditation & study centre in Bodhgaya, Bihar. Besides meditation & philosophy courses, the institute runs health programs on-site and in remote rural villages of Bihar, with an emphasis on health promotion, enabling people to care for their own health, health education, and integrated health and development at the village level.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Spiritual volunteers to assist with daily meditations, run short workshops, and offer general help with the spiritual program.
–       Health program volunteers to assist with program coordination and nursing.
–       Physiotherapy / Occupational therapy volunteers.


Volunteer application: http://www.rootinstitute.com/about/volunteerform.htm

17. Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS)

Location: Sikkim

Website: http://sikkimhomestay.com

Overview: Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim, (ECOSS) is a nongovernmental organization working to accomplish a mission of sustainability and conservation in the state of Sikkim. ECOSS has been involved in establishing the Sikkim Himalayan Homestay with support from UNESCO. To develop the homestay destinations, ECOSS has worked closely with the villagers of the different destinations in building their skills and capacities for the sustainable tourism activity. Each village has a tourism management committee, which overlooks the operations and management of the tourism activities.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Volunteering with homestays to develop the skills and capacities of the local communities.

Contact: [email protected]

18. Mother’s Hope

Location: Dimapur, Nagaland

Website: http://www.mothershope.in

Overview: Mother’s Hope is a residential home for pregnant mothers and babies. Mother’s Hope provides care to pregnant girls undergoing crisis pregnancies, victims of sexual abuse, and infants needing a permanent home. They offer free counseling, a residential home for women to stay during pregnancy and receive new skill training, free health-care and psychological support to girls undergoing crisis pregnancies, and a residential home for newborn babies till they are adopted into loving families.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Awareness & advocacy volunteers.
–       Volunteers for counseling & baby care home.

Contact: [email protected]

19. Grassroutes Journeys

Location: Orissa

Website: http://www.grassroutesjourneys.com

Overview: Grassroutes Journeys is a travel company that provides opportunities for travellers to engage with local communities. It believes that enriching experiences come from a deeper understanding of the place, people and culture, and offers responsible travels deep into rural & tribal Orissa.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Agriculture & organic farming.
–       Vocational training for women.
–       Teaching English in tribal schools.

Contact: [email protected]

20. Fertile Ground

Location: Assam

Website: http://www.fertile-ground.org

Overview: In northeast India, there is still little support available for farmers and growers following traditional farming methods, or for those interested in incorporating organic agriculture practices such as composting, mulching, and natural pest control. Fertile Ground has provided encouragement, training and resources to farmers, small-scale tea growers, extension staff, teachers, students and families living in the state of Assam. Their projects support people to grow healthy food by bringing together some of India’s traditional practices with low-cost practices that rely on locally available materials.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
–       Organic farming activities.
–       Educations workshops for teachers & kids.

Contact: [email protected]

21. Aaranyak

Location: Guwahati, Assam

Website: http://www.aaranyak.org

Overview: Aaranyak is a registered society working in the field of biodiversity conservation in North East India since 1989, and is dedicated to using scientific means, law, advocacy, community engagement, education and more, in an endeavor to mitigate the impact of changing climate in North East India. Their projects range from community based conservation to wildlife genetics and legal & advocacy programs.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
– Volunteers trained in conservation or related fields.

Contact: [email protected]


22. Manav Sadhna

Location: Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Website: www.manavsadhna.org

Overview: Manav Sadhna is engaged in constructive humanitarian projects that cut across barriers of class and religion while addressing issues faced by socio-economically neglected segments of society.

Minimum period of commitment: One month

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
Development work for the underprivileged
–       education
–       community development
–       rehabilitation
–       creative education

Costs: Travel not covered

Contact[email protected]

23. Sadhana Village

Location: Pune, Maharashtra

Website: http://sadhana-village.org/ 

Overview: residential & educational care of disabled children, self help groups, empowerment of rural women

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       teaching
–       assistance in care
–       working with SHGs

Contact: [email protected] [email protected]

24. Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra

Location: Maharashtra

Website: http://www.snmcpn.in/

–       Conservation of Marine Turtle
–       Study of Whiterumped Vulture (Gyps bengalenses)
–       Conservation of Indian Swiftlet (Collocalia unicolor)
–       Study and conservation of Whitebellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
–       Breeding biology of some bird species

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       micro volunteering
–       film making
–       teaching
–       taking workshops
–       organizing campaigns

25. Slum Soccer

Location: Nagpur, Maharashtra

Website: http://slumsoccer.org/

Overview: The organisation uses football to offer opportunities to slum children

Minimum period of commitment: Minimum 2 Weeks

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       Football coaches
–       Administrators
–       Promoters
–       Fund Raisers


26. Sadhana Forest

Location: Auroville, Tamil Nadu

Website:  http://sadhanaforest.org/ 

–       tree planting
–       environmental education
–       promotion of ecological revival and sustainable living

Minimum period of commitment:
4 weeks from December 1st to April 1st – April 2nd to November 31st the minimum stay is 2 weeks

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       Planting trees
–       working on water conservation in the forest
–       maintaining the community area
–       tending to the vegan-organic garden

Contact[email protected]

27. Kabani

Location: Wayanad, Kerela

Website: http://www.kabani.org/

Overview: They are concerned about the impacts of tourism and development on people’s livelihood and environment. Their prime objectives are sustainable socio economic development of local communities and conservation of natural resources that provides the basic of community livelihood.

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       research
–       campaigns
–       community tourism initiatives

Contact: [email protected][email protected][email protected]

28. Chennai Trekkers Club

Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Website:  http://www.chennaitrekkers.org/

–       Eco-tourism
–       preservation
–       environmental awareness
–       community clean ups
–       working with underprivileged

Nature of volunteering opportunity: Volunteer on treks and beach clean ups in South


29. Agumbe Rainforest Research Centre

Location: Shimoga, Karnataka

Website: http://www.agumberainforest.com/

Overview: wildlife studies, nature conservation

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       Photographic inventories of flora and fauna
–       Ecology of Draco dussumieri (Flying lizards)
–       Amphibian population dynamics
–       Canopy studies
–       Tree planting and surveys.
–       Organic agriculture at the station
–       General maintenance
–       Creation of educational material
–       Socio economic studies

Contact: [email protected]

30. Andaman and Nicobar Islands Environmental Team (ANET)

Location: Andaman & Nicobar islands

Website: www.anetindia.org

Overview: environmental conservation & community building work

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       research as well as in day to day activities on the base such as
–       tree planting
–       office work
–       base maintenance and
–       data entry

Contact: [email protected]

31. Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS)

Location: Bangalore, Karnataka

Website: http://www.wcsindia.org/

–       research
–       conservation projects
–       capacity building
–       education workshops for the locals

Contact: [email protected]

32. Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology

Location: Tamil Nadu

Website: http://www.madrascrocodilebank.org/

–       conservation
–       research
–       education & awareness with reptiles

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       maintenance
–       short term research
–       library on herpetological literature
–       outreach programs with the locals

Contact: [email protected]

33. Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network

Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Website: http://sstcn.org/

Overview: conserve and create awareness about the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle

Minimum period of commitment: every friday & saturday night

Nature of volunteering opportunity: We walk seven kilometres from Neelangarai to Besant Nagar beach. We gather at Neelangarai beach at around 11pm. There is a discussion about turtles and other environmental issues and the walk starts after that. The walk may go on till 4am or 5am depending on whether we find any nests, and how many we find.

Contact: [email protected]

34.  Children Walking Tall

Location: Mapusa, Goa, India.

Website: http://www.childrenwalkingtall.com/

–       provides food
–       medical assistance and educational support to local children

Minimum period of commitment: Minimum 2 Weeks

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       preparing activities
–       giving out food
–       teaching
–       cleaning
–       sorting
–       taking care of small medical needs for the children.

Costs: Travel and boarding not covered

Contact: [email protected]

35. Sojahur

Location: Pondicherry, (south) India.

Website: http://www.sojahurmngo.com/

Overview: orphan welfare, children development as well as women self help awareness.

Nature of volunteering opportunity:
–       Taking classes for local poor orphan children.
–       Providing care and support for local poor orphan children.
–       Sharing your knowledge. Assisting with staffs.
–       Awareness for women.
–       Conducting sports and cultural activities.
–       Benefits to the volunteers:
–       Inter cultural learning.
–       Learning local language.
–       Staying with Indian traditional family.
–       Attending Indian marriage ceremony,other local festivals.
–       Accommodation and transport arranged according to individual interest.
–       Guidance and security will be provided.
–       Healthy living with proper sanitation.
–       South India tour will be arranged.

Contact: [email protected]

36.  Vishakha Society for Protection & Care of Animals

Location: Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh

Website: http://www.vspca.org/

Overview: Shelter home for rescued animals

Minimum period of commitment: Minimum 2 Weeks

Nature of volunteering opportunity: Depending on interest and skill volunteers will assist at
–       the animal shelter in general animal care
–       assist in the VSPCA office with office work
–       planning humane education activities to the public


37. Idealist

Website: www.idealist.org

Overview: A directory of volunteer opportunities in India & abroad

38. Wwoof India

Location: All over India

Website: http://www.wwoofindia.org

Overview: WWOOF provides a way for volunteers (WWOOFers) to learn about organic food, farming, and ways of life. In doing so it brings together people to share common human values and thinking. WWOOF also hopes to provide helping hands to its organic WWOOF hosts and allow WWOOFers to understand what it means to live organically. WWOOF is an exchange programme – volunteers help in exchange for food, accommodation and learning.

Nature of volunteering opportunities
– All things related to farming (expect to get your hands dirty).


Application Form: http://www.wwoofindia.org/member.htm

39. True Travellers Society


Overview: Travelling forum; Different local orgs in India posting their volunteer requirements here for travellers

40. Independent Volunteer

Website: http://www.independentvolunteer.org/index.php?n=ProjectsByCountry.India

Overview: Free volunteer placement agency.

By Atchuma

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