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Weather / When to Visit
it's a wee bit nippy
Weather / When to Visit
Tushita is located on a forested mountain slope at an altitude of 1888m (6190ft) in the Dhauladhar range (the beautiful foothills of the Himalayas), in Himachal Pradesh, Northern India.
You can see a fuller description of the weather throughout the year below, but in summary… This area has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate:
Winter months are followed by a short, pleasant Spring in March and April.
Summer starts in early April and peaks in early June (when temperatures can reach 36°C). July to mid-September is the Monsoon season, when very heavy rainfall can be expected, making Dharamsala one of the wettest places in the state.
Autumn is mild and lasts from October to the end of November.
Winter starts in December and continues until mid February. Temperatures often reach 0°C or below during winter and snow and sleet are common. Tushita is closed annually during this time.
Historically, the Dhauladhar mountains behind Tushita used to remain snow-covered all year long, however, in recent years they have been losing their snow blanket during dry spells. In general, climate change is in full effect in this ecologically sensitive area, and the seasons have become much less easy to predict accurately in recent years. So, as a guide to online information resources…
Where to get current weather information
We hope that this chart (taken from data on Wikipedia, located here) will give you a good general sense of the weather conditions here, but use it only as an indicative guide, because…
The only website where you will find realistic analysis of weather trends affecting McLeod Ganj is the very detailed weather blog:
The information on this site relates to a location at a slightly lower altitude than Tushita, so remember to subtract a degree or two from the temperatures listed on the weathergeek blog!
There is no other website that shows exact temperatures for McLeod Ganj or Tushita. You will find that many of the standard weather-guide websites will have forecasts for Dharamsala, but be aware that there is a difference of around 1000m in altitude between Dharamsala and Tushita and the temperature drop is very noticeable as you ascend. If the Weather Geek happens to be on holiday or is otherwise not posting at the time of your visit to Tushita, other websites may be helpful as a guide, but be sure to factor in the strong possibility of there being much cooler and wetter conditions up here.
Please note: Like most other places in India, Tushita has NO heating system, so come prepared for cool weather in ALL seasons, but especially when you come from the plains of India, where it is considerably warmer. When visiting Tushita, warm clothing you can wear in layers, a sleeping bag and an umbrella are advisable throughout the year. See our What to Bring section for more information about this.
Tushita starts its Introduction to Buddhism courses around mid February. We also host the annual Pre-Ordination Course (POC) in February. The POC is for those who will be ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama this year, providing them with systematic advice to prepare for monastic life. Tushita began this course some years ago and it is now an official pre-requisite for Westerners who have applied to be ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
At this time of year it is usually still very cold here, temperatures through the day can be as low as -5°C, but is usually above zero (sometimes it still snows). There is no heating system at Tushita (like most other places in the area), so please come prepared with a lot of warm clothes and a good sleeping bag!
The positive side of taking an Introductory course so early in the season is that the February course has fewer participants than later courses, so it is more personal and people usually get a lot out of it (not despite the suffering of cold but because of the suffering of cold!).
His Holiness the Dalai Lama used to give 2 weeks of teachings at this time (around the Tibetan festival of Losar) but in recent years, His Holiness has only been teaching for one morning in February or March, see His website for more details.
Losar, the Tibetan New Year, falls in February/March (for exact dates see our Calendar of Events). Losar is a very family orientated holiday (lasting usually 3 days or longer), so there is not much for visitors to see unless you get invited by a hospitable Tibetan family to join their celebrations.
March is one of the best months to come to this area.
It gets sunnier and slowly warmer (0 to 15°C) as the month progresses, though usually it is still very cold at night (there may still be some snow).
The Tibetan festival of Losar sometimes falls in early March, see “February” above for more information about Losar events.
March is the start of the main tourist season in McLeod Ganj, so it is advisable to arrive in the area at least a few days before the course starts to find suitable pre-course accommodation. See our McLeod Ganj accommodation page for more about this.
April, May & early June
These pre-monsoon months are main season in this area, since the temperatures in the plains of India often get unbearably hot, causing many people (Westerners and Indians alike) to seek refuge in the cooler hill stations. This means that at this time the tourist season in McLeod Ganj and the surrounding villages is in full swing!
The weather at Tushita (which is located on an even higher altitude than McLeod Ganj) is especially pleasant at this time of year. The temperature can range between 15 – 38°C here during these months, peaking in early June (though it can still get cold at night) and consequently this is one the busiest periods at Tushita; our introductory courses tend to have waiting lists at this time.
We also offer Intermediate-level courses around this time (e.g. on Emptiness and Death & Dying) for students to deepen their study and practice.
The Nyung Nay retreat (1 Nyung Nay takes 2 days, and there are 8 sets conducted) for established Buddhist practitioners takes place during Saka Dawa (May/June).
Mid June – September
These are the monsoon months and it rains A LOT here! This area (and especially Tushita, due to its higher altitude) has one of the heaviest monsoons in India. It is not unusual for it to rain ALL day and at other times Tushita is blanketed in heavy mist, so please come prepared. We advise you to bring sealable plastic bags to protect your clothes and other belongings from mould, Zip-Loc types are ideal for this. Oh, and don’t forget your umbrella and poncho!!!
People tend to have mixed opinions about the monsoon. On the one hand, many things go mouldy, it is impossible to dry laundry (other than by using our excellent laundry service!), and some people find the rain and lack of sunshine a bit disheartening. On the other hand, there are preparations you can make to protect your belongings against the mould, there are fewer people around and the misty forests have a certain atmospheric beauty which many people find most conducive to contemplation and spiritual practice. One Tushita friend described it as being like “walking through a Chinese poem”…
Unsurprisingly then, the monsoon months are traditionally used for doing retreat and every second year Tushita offers experienced students the opportunity to do a 3-month group Vajrasattva retreat starting from between mid June/early July.
For most of Tushita’s history we kept Tushita relatively quiet, for these retreatants’ benefit, and did not run any residential courses during this time. However in recent years even the monsoon has not diminished demand for courses, and Tushita usually still offers our residential Introduction to Buddhism courses, guided morning meditations and Dharma video screenings.
So monsoon is by no means a total wash-out here! Especially as His Holiness the Dalai Lama sometimes gives public teachings at his temple in McLeod Ganj once or twice in late June, July or August – a very special experience, so don’t miss it! For more information please visit: www.dalailama.com (Tushita doesn’t offer any courses during His Holiness’ teachings, neither do any other centres and institutions in town).
Mid September – November
These months after the monsoon are an excellent time for a visit to this area, since the weather is very pleasant and McLeod Ganj is less busy than in the pre-monsoon months. Daytime temperatures after monsoon are generally around 10 – 30°C.
The air is fresh, the weather is often sunny with clear views of the mountains and there are beautiful sunsets.
Through November the temperatures get slowly colder, anywhere from 20 degrees to zero (or perhaps lower!) and it can be quite chilly especially at night time, so warm clothes and a good sleeping bag are essential!
December & January
In general, December and especially January are not such good months to come to McLeod Ganj. It can get very cold here, most guest houses do not have heating and with the snow come the power cuts! Many centres have their winter break (the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives still holds classes in December, but not in January) and most of the guest houses and restaurants will be closed.
Most Westerners (and many Tibetans) escape the winter here and go to warmer places, where there are also more Dharma activities (especially in Bodhgaya!). This is the main season for Root Institute, our sister centre in Bodhgaya www.rootinstitute.ngo
- Guided Meditation on April 29, 2017 9:30 am
- Movie Day on May 1, 2017 2:00 pm
- Guru Puja on May 5, 2017 6:30 pm
- Introduction to Buddhism on May 9, 2017
- Special Lam Rim Retreat on May 10, 2017
- Medicine Buddha Puja on May 10, 2017
- Introduction to Buddhism on May 29, 2017
- HH the Dalai Lama public teaching on June 5, 2017 6:30 am
- Saka Dawa on June 9, 2017
- The Two Truths on June 14, 2017
Tushita is a centre for the study and practice of Buddhism from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. We're located in Northern India, in the forested hills above the town of McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala - the seat in exile of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Tushita aims to provide a friendly and conducive environment for people of all nationalities and backgrounds to learn about and put into practice the teachings of the Buddha. With this in mind we offer regular drop-in events and courses on introductory Buddhist philosophy and meditation, as well as intermediate level courses and group retreats for more experienced students.
February to November
Monday - Saturday
9:30 - 11:30am
a break for lunch and then...
12:30 - 4:00pm