For beginners or those who have only a little knowledge of Astrology, I would suggest reading my book “A Practical Guide to Hindu Astrology” available online here. The price is $15 (if you live in USA) or $20 (if you live elsewhere). These prices include postage and handling. You can also get an e-mail delivery of the book by sending $10 only. However there are many other sources of information about astrology available free on the internet. After learning the basics of astrology from my book, I would recommend interested persons to read the book “Light on life” by Hart de Fouw and Robert Svoboda for more detailed knowledge of Hindu astrology. One needs to learn techniques of Tajik Neelkanthi also to analyse the monthly solar return charts.
Software: For years I used Jyotish Tools, because it was easy and cheap. You can also get 30 -day trial version of this software if you go online and download it. This astrology software also comments about another kind of astrology system. Just ignore it, because it is not useful for our purpose. However, I also use Haydn’s Jyotish for determining Shadbala i.e., the strength of the planets, which is not calculated by Jyotish Tools. Haydn’s Jyotish (https://www.hjyotish.com) is also an excellent source for the longitudes and latitudes of thousands of cities around the world.
Another program “Sri Jyoti Star” v6, is not only very accurate in its calculations but also very good in displaying the data that we need for our purposes on one sheet. This program is a bit expensive, but it is worth the price. Here also the demo version is available for 30 days.
Recently I started using the software “Kala” (pronounced as Kaal, which means time in Hindi) written by Ernst Willhelm and his wife Srishti. This is one software that allows me to work in any brach of astrology, such as Jaataka, Muhurtha, Varshaphala, Jaimini, Prashna, Ashatakvarga, Sankrantis, etc, etc. Since I use Solar return charts (varshaphala), and this software calculates varsh-pati and maas-pati, this is an ideal software for me. Lately I started using Tropical zodiac for signs, and Sidereal zodiac for Vimshottri dashas. This software allows me this kind of flexibility. This was the main reason I discontinued Jyotish Tools. It also has built-in atlas and day light saving information. “Kala” may be a bit expensive for the beginner of astrology, but it is worth ten times its price for a practitioner.
A free software “Jagannath Hora” written by PVR Narasimha Rao is equally good and allows all kinds of flexibilities, although it cannot calculate varsha-pati and maas-pati for the varshaphala charts.