Can MCTC accommodate my level of knowledge?
Yes, Manjushree Center of Tibetan Culture, MCTC, offers two levels
of classes on written and spoken Tibetan: beginning and advanced.
The beginning class starts mid-March with the alphabet and pronunciation
and moves quickly into sentence structure, verb usage and vocabulary.
The advanced classes are more individually tailored to the students.
In general the advanced class will read Tibetan texts that are
requested by the students in the class.
When are the classes?
The trimesters run from the middle of March to the middle of
June, from mid-June to mid-September, and from mid-September
Could I attend for only one week?
No. MCTC asks students to commit to a minimum of three months
Is tutoring available?
MCTC does not offer tutoring but it is easily available in the
community. Students have found tutors for conversational Tibetan,
handwriting in different scripts and for Buddhist terminology.
The cost in generally in the Rs. 50 - Rs. 80/hour price range.
What texts should I bring?
You can purchase beginners' texts from MCTC. Bring your dictionaries
or buy them en route in Delhi or Kathmandu. Tape recorders are
What dialect is taught at MCTC?
All of the teachers at MCTC speak Lhasa dialect, most of them
were born and educated in Lhasa, Tibet. Some of the teachers
have had a traditional monastic education in Tibet and some have
had a modern education in India.
What is the class size at MCTC
The beginners class averages around 10-15 people, while the
advanced classes are around 3-6 people. In the spring time when
school starts the class size is larger, and by the time monsoon
is finished in September many students will have left, making
the class size smaller.
Is MCTC also a Tibetan Buddhist Dharma center?
No, MCTC is a charitable trust that was established to help preserve
the culture of the Tibetan people. Manjushree Center of Tibetan
Culture was founded in 1988. It is registered and approved by
the Department of Education of the Central Tibetan Administration
of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
What kind of texts are available at MCTC?
MCTC has a small library that contains both Tibetan and English
texts, although the majority of the books are English titles.
There is a wide range of titles including Tibetan history, Tibetan
culture, Tibetan Buddhism, and Tibetan language. There is only
one small book store selling Tibetan pecha in Darjeeling. There
is a small shop selling a limited selection of Tibetan Buddhist
text in English, for a wider selection you will need to go to
Kathmandu, Delhi or Dharamsala.
Where can I find out more about Tibetan language?
There are many Tibetan language resources on the internet. Here
are just a few:
Places to study Tibetan language http://www.tibet.com/Language/study-place.html
The Language of Tibet: Overview and Links http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/language.htm
The Tibetan Language Institute http://www.tibetanlanguage.org/
Tibetan Studies: Language, Literature, and Software http://www.ciolek.com/WWWVLPages/TibPages/tib-language.html
What about housing?
MCTC does not offer housing. However, Darjeeling is a tourist
town where many kinds of living arrangements are available, including
hotels, boarding houses, individual apartments and sharing a
Tibetan family's home. One can expect to pay in the range of
US$1 to US$5 per night depending on the quality of the housing
and if you need a kitchen or not. Once you reach Darjeeling contact
the MCTC office for more information on housing options.
What about food?
Darjeeling offers many restaurants with a variety of cuisine.
A meal costs from US$1 to US$3, though cooking one's own food
is cheaper. Fresh foods are available at open markets year-round.
How about communication?
MCTC has several fax lines. There are many commercial telephone,
fax services, and e-mail services. Internet access cost about
US$0.70/hour. Faxes to USA and Europe cost about US$1 per page.
Normal mail takes from 10 - 15 days between Darjeeling
and the USA or Europe. You can communicate with MCTC by email
What is the weather like?
The best seasons in Darjeeling are the spring and fall. During
these times the sky is generally clear and the sun warm. Darjeeling
is cool throughout the summer, never reaching above 70 degrees
Fahrenheit, or 20 degrees Centigrade. The winter is cold with
snow once or twice. The rainy season runs from June through the
end of September. If you stay for the rainy season it is helpful
to have a stock of airtight plastic bags to store clothes and
books in, most everything will get moldy during this time. Ziploc brand
Heavy Duty Freezer bag work very well for this purpose. Please
note, Ziploc bags are not available in Darjeeling. Inside heating
is difficult to obtain and is not available in the classrooms.
All weather clothing is easily available for purchase in Darjeeling.
If you are someone that gets cold quickly it is nice to bring
a small electric heating pad. Remember that the electricity is
220 volts in India.
What kind of budget will I need to live in Darjeeling?
Not including the school fees, most people spend between US$100
and US$250 per month. If you cook your own food and eat vegetarian
then your cost will be in the lower part of the range. If you
get a more fancy room and eat out for every meal it will be on
the high side.
Can I access my bank account?
Many students find ATMs to be the easiest way to get cash. There
are now a few ATM machines in Darjeeling that accept most international
ATM cards and credit cards. The ATMs are open 24 hours/day and
the main one is located just opposite the State Bank of India.
American Express traveler's cheques are accepted at the banks;
only US Dollar, British Pound and Euro. Some banks give cash
advances on credit cards (Master Card and Visa only) but there
is a service charge of US$5 per transaction. Wire transfers to
accounts are difficult and often take months to clear.
Do I need a Indian visa?
Yes. Apply at the Indian consulate in your own country for a
1 or 5 year "tourist visa". In some countries only
6 month Indian visas are possible. Currently Manjushree is unable
to assist students in obtaining an official "student visa".
Once you are in India it is generally not possible to get your
visa extended. When your visa is finished you will have to leave
India and apply for a new visa. The closest places to do this
are Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and sometimes it
is possible in Nepal (but not always).
Can I use my computer in Darjeeling?
Yes. In India, the electricity should be 220 volts, but often
the voltage varies quite a bit. It is best to bring a portable
laptop computer, because there are often power cuts in Darjeeling.
Also, you should invest in a good "automatic voltage stabilizer",
once you reach Darjeeling, because the power is often somewhere
between 100-300 volts. A high quality automatic voltage stabilizer
cost about US$20 here in Darjeeling. If you would like to setup
your own internet account, there is local access phone number
in Darjeeling. It will cost about US$10 for 100 hours of connect
time or 1 year, which ever comes first. Prepaid internet accounts
can be purchased from computer stores in Darjeeling. There is
also now DSL internet access in Darjeeling. You connect your
laptop to the network at Compuset
Centre to use this high speed line.
Where can I find more information on India and Darjeeling?
Both the Lonely Planet Guide Book for India, and the
Guide for India present an overview of India, and more details
of Darjeeling. Mapping the Tibetan World is the excellent
guide book for Tibet, and also cover the areas of India, Nepal
and Butan where Tibetans live (e.g. Darjeeling, Dharamsala, Kathmandu
etc.) For lots of information and photos of Darjeeling take a
look at http://www.darjnet.com