A state-of-the art Rayleigh and Mie backscattering lidar was set up at Gadanki (13.5°N, 79.2°E) in the Tropics in India. Using this system, regular observations of upper tropospheric clouds, aerosols at stratospheric heights and atmospheric temperatures in the range from 30 to 80 km were made. In this paper, the data collected during the period of 1998-99 were selected for systematic investigation and presentation. The Mie scattering lidar system is capable of measuring the degree of depolarization in the laser backscattering. Several tropical cirrus cloud structures have been identified with low to moderate ice content. Occasionally, thin sub-visible cirrus clouds in the vicinity of the tropical tropopause have also been detected. The aerosol measurements in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere show low aerosol content with a vertical distribution up to 35 km altitude. Rayleigh-scattering lidar observations reveal that at the tropical site, temperature inversion occurs at mesospheric heights. Atmospheric waves have induced perturbations in the temperatures for several times at the upper stratospheric heights. A significant warming in the lower mesosphere associated with a consistent cooling in the upper stratospheric heights is observed particularly in the winter season during the events of sudden stratospheric warming (SSW).