While the end of winter means fixing up their ACs and getting ready for all the summer parties for most; for the travel hogs out there, it means looking up new places to go to. And living in a country as diverse as India, there’s no dearth of new travel spots, but this time we’re looking at spiritual travel retreats so you can unwind from whatever you’ve gone through in 2018.
Vipassana International Academy, Maharashtra
A breathtakingly-beautiful hill station nestled in the mighty Western Ghats of Maharashtra, the landscape and sheer beauty are reason enough to visit this spiritual travel retreat.
Set up by S.N. Goenka, an accomplished pioneer of the Vipassana meditation technique in India, this academy is a bit disciplined and rigorous in its approach. There has to be complete silence at all times (don’t we all need this?) and you can take your pick from their range of courses (minimum length: 10 days). They also promote a strictly vegetarian diet, so if you’re a carnivore, we’d suggest maybe not choosing this one. If you are, however, looking for some discipline with one of the most ancient meditation techniques known to humans, start booking.
More details here.
Osho International Meditation Resort, Pune
Image source: Osho
Even though the Osho name has gone through some significant ups and downs since the infamous documentary Wild Wild Country hit Netflix, the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune remains one of our favourite spiritual retreats in the country for some good ol’ personal awakening.
This Osho centre takes the cake with its sheer number of facilities and services. From a professional-level swimming pool, cyber cafe and tennis court to cafes and massive dining areas for communal chilling, there’s a lot to do here. They have a variety of courses to sign up for, each offering their own brand of spirituality and awakening, movie screenings, music performances and a bunch of other things. They’re not too strict and simply ask that you maintain decorum.
More details here.
Popular among hippies and college students alike, Auroville is located in the Viluppuram district of Tamil Nadu and partly in Pondicherry - the capital of the union territory of Puducherry. It’s more of a long-running experiment than a town, in the way that they do everything with the old system of barter of skills and goods.
Anyone who wishes to live here should contribute in some way to the township, as well as find ways to keep doing enough to earn their livelihood. There’s a massive temple in the middle of it - Matrimandir - that’s a spectacle to behold on its own. It’s not a spiritual experience in the traditional sense of the word, as it’s more about community and self-awareness, though it’s pretty spiritual if you separate spirituality from religion.More details here.
Ayurveda Yoga Villa, Kerala
We’d like to make it absolutely clear that we do not endorse going for Ayurveda for serious medical conditions. The Ayurveda Yoga Villa in Kerala is more about wellness and treating yourself.
The villa is located in the beautiful forests along the river Kabani in the Wayanad district of Kerala, and has a bunch of yoga and pranayam sessions for you to indulge in. The area is perfectly scenic and silent for a spiritual awakening but there are a lot of local treks and adventure activities to opt for too. They’re also one of the few places that train you in one of the oldest martial arts in the world - Kalaripayattu, which originated in Kerala; these sessions usually start early in the morning and go on till the later part of the evenings. If you’re looking for some pampering, ask them to arrange some spa and massage sessions for you.More details here.
Blue Mango Retreat, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh
You really don’t need a reason to make their way to the Himalayas, as the region offers some of the most breathtaking views of high mountains and pristine glacial rivers in the world. For the ones looking for spiritual travel retreats, The mountainous Blue Mango Retreat could be a haven.
While you’re there, there’s a Buddhist monastery called Komik to check out nearby, too. Monks from there are often found teaching various forms of yoga, and there are other, in-house life coaches to better help you discover the meaning of life, universe and everything while you’re there. You can also opt for the Buddhist vow of silence, if you want to go the whole mile. If you find it’s not quite your thing, you can always pack a jeep and venture into the rugged-yet-beautiful mountain terrains of Spiti and Lahaul valleys and devour the scenery.More details here.
Root Institute, Bodhgaya
Bodh Gaya is not just a great travel destination; it’s also one of the holiest sites for Buddhism, as it was where Buddha first attained enlightenment. The Root Institute there is our pick for all the meditation centres available to visit in the area.
There are a few things you’d need to keep in mind here. Men and women are strictly to stay in their separate areas, and they’ve to take a vow of celibacy for as long as they’re there. The food is strictly vegan, though the cuisine varies. As expected, you can't use your phone or the internet while there. Their courses range from two to ten days; you could also check out their various one-day courses. It’s a brilliant place for some meditation and self-discovery.
More details here.
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