|Rangoli in the reception area of Vivekanandapuram|
To kick off our travels together, Ami and I spent time in 2 different Ashrams. I’m actually staying at a 3rd Ashram in Rishikesh at the moment as well.
Swami Vivekananda’s Ashram, Vivekanandapuram, in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), known as the wandering monk, opened an ashram there on a huge piece of land. He’s known for bringing yoga and the Vedanta philosophy to the west, as well as bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion.
Swami Vivekananda’s Ashram was closer to a bird sanctuary or national park than an active daily ashram. We now know that it is a natural spiritual retreat for those on a spiritual journey. I’d hoped for kirtan, yoga and meditation, but it’s more of a resting ground for groups or individuals on a pilgrimage. The rooms were interesting. See right..
The one great thing is that within the 100 acre campus you have access to watch the sunrise and sunset from the beach. I also really enjoyed the many enlightening quotes displayed all around. Here are two I connected with:
“Infinite purity, infinite patience, and infinite perseverance are the essentials to success, and, above all, love.”
“In a day when you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are traveling in the wrong path.”
Night one was perfect example of Indian hospitality. There was a group of travelers on a yatra (spiritual pilgrimage) that wanted to take pictures with me. I obliged and as they were communicating with me, Ami realized they were speaking Gujarati. Thanks to Ami’s mad Gujaratie skills we were invited to dinner. We accepted and dined with them later. They were all very sweet and excited to have us as guests. Although I know they captured many awkward photographs of us eating. I’m getting used to it by now.
Note: I don't have many pictures as photography is forbidden within the Ashram.
Parmath Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Parmath Niketan is right on the east bank of the Ganges in the holy city of Rishikesh. The ashram was founded in 1942 by the great saint Pujya Swami Shukdevanandji Maharaj (1901–1965).
There are nearly 1000 rooms at the ashram - 500/300 (single/shared room) rupees per night including all meals, hatha yoga and meditation. Every evening at sunset, the vibrant ganga aarti is held at the riverside temple of the ashram. There’s singing, changing, musicians, the lighting of candles and pooja at the water’s edge of the Ganges. I’m actually still in the middle of my stay so I will write more about my experience here in a later post. Here are a couple photographs until then.
|A photograph from my first night at Ganga Aarti|