Top Destinations for Soul Searching and Spiritual Retreats In India
Need a vacation, just after you are back from a vacation? Are you back from a trip with the same old thoughts and tiredness? If this is you then you need to take a break that gives you some peace and for a change, some stillness in life. Instead of getting stuck on the roads of crowded places, you need to take a spiritually uplifting destinations. India has no dearth of Spiritual Retreats and destinations where you can indulge in some Soul Searching and here we list 7 amazing places, ideal for getting in touch with one's self and these are awesome places to visit otherwise too.
1) Auroville, Pondicherry
Most people who come to Pondicherry do give Auroville a visit, but they miss the point. The only way one can really appreciate this true meaning of this place is by staying here for few days and living the life that all Aurovillans live, by being part of the community. For starters you can book a stay inside Auroville through their website; there plenty of options - from eco-huts in middle of dense vegitation to sea side cottages, just make sure you book them well in advance. Most parts of Auroville do not have mobile networks, most roads are unpaved with street lights - a perfect place contemplate life and it's meaning.
A small sleepy town in the foothills of Garhwal Himalayas, Rishikesh shot to fame in 1970's when the Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram. It has ever since been one of the top destinations for people around the world looking for spiritual retreats. Just about five hour drive from Delhi and an hour’s drive from Haridwar, Rishikesh was always easily approachable. Various ashrams offering yoga and meditation courses and true environment needed for spiritual awakening still remain thronged with foreigners seeking a look at life from a new perspective.
Besides being a holy destinations for Hindus and the yoga capital for foreigners, Rishikesh has other attractions too. River rafting is a major attraction of the town. Adventure seekers looking for thrill of rafting one the waters of Ganges, visit all the year round.
Also known as Benaras or Kashi, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. Varanasi has been an ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus since ancient times and they believe it to be abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Pilgrims flock to Ghats (stone steps leading down to the river) of Ganges in Varanasi with the belief that sacred waters of the river will cleanse away sins of current life with its purifying waters. Due to it's mysticism and unique culture, Varanasi is a popular destination for foreign tourists in India.
In all the chaos of the city - mayhem of people and traffic, a calm spirituality is felt everywhere, in the old lanes of Varanasi. An event not to be missed in Varanasi is evening ‘aarti ceremony’, when priests line the Ganges on its various Ghats (such as Aasi Ghat) to perform the prayer with their oil lamps. It is said that one attains moksha if you die in Varanasi. Wheather it is moksha you are seeking or search for something that you are not aware as of yet, Varanasi is surely a place to experience, to come and see the oldest living city in the world, that must be something right!
Bodh Gaya is the place where Lord Buddha siting under the Bodhi Tree ended his search for enlightenment. There could be hardly a better place if you are looking to take a break and immerge in meditation and take out time for some deep introspection. The Mahabodhi temple stands here since the time of King Ashoka and is oldest Buddhist temples that survives till date.
Bodh Gaya has many monasteries and few institutes that run courses and meditation programs all through the year. Many of these provide accommodation facilities as well, which are very decent and a good option for this purpose.
Perched high up in the foothills of the Himalayas lies Dharamshala, a small town which has embraced with love His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama with open arms. Home to thousands of Tibetan refugees and Tibetan government in exile, Dharamshala still comes alive whenever Dalai Lama is in town. Round the year meditations are held are many monasteries and temples here and public teachings sessions are performed by His Holiness whenever he is in town.
The scenic Kangra Valley and surrounded by vast greenery and open skies, Dharamshala is truly a place where one can come to forget routine hectic life and get a taste of spirituality.
6) Spiti, Himachal
It wouldn’t be wrong to say the Spiti and Lahaul valley region is like what Ladakh probably used to be 20 years ago. Spiti in the upper Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, is not only a land of boundless beauty but also considered as a great destination for self-discovery, meditation and spirituality. Region has been home to monks and sages for over a millennia. With ancient monasteries spread far and wide all over the region, you can experience nature and spirituality at close quarters here.
Tabo Monastery is living testament to that. Beautiful paintings made thousand year ago still adorn the walls. Morning Prayer at the monastery is not to be missed. Traveling and living in Spiti and Lahaul region is much easier today than it used to be. The solitude needed for soul-searching is easiest to find here.
Khajuraho is mostly just identified for its erotic temple carvings but only with a visit to this little town will you experience how spirituality and sensuality meet in a blissful celebration of life. Originally home to about 85 temples built between the 9th and 14th century, only 25 still stand today. Deep in the jungles of central India, people had realized the power of yoga and tantric meditation, sexuality and spirituality went hand in hand. The spiritual energy that once flowed here can still be felt.
Khajuraho has all kinds of accommodation available, including five star hotels and an airport. Best way to see around is on back of a bicycle.
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