10 Amazing Places to Meditate in India
1. Kasar Devi, Uttaranchal
Kasar Devi is a little hill-top village 30 kms further up from Almora in the Himalayan state of Uttaranchal in North India.
Kasar Devi became known as a spiritual centre when Swami Vivekananda meditated here in the 1890s and wrote about his experiences in his diary. Walter Evans-Wentz, student of Tibetan Budhism and the translator of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, stayed here for some time.
Apparently, the earth’s magnetic field plunges in Kasar Devi making it especially conducive for meditative and transcendental experiences.
Not surprisingly, Kasar Devi has seen spiritual seekers streaming into this little village for the last 100 years. Danish mystic Sunyata Baba (Alfred Sorensen) lived here from the 1930s till the 60s. As did Ernst Hoffman, who later became known as Lama Angarika Govinda. Mystic-saint Ananda Mayi Maa too spent some time here.
Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, George Harrison, Timothy Leary, DH Lawrence, all came to Kasar Devi for spiritual and creative inspirations.
The Kasar Devi temple complex, built in 2nd century CE, is a great place to meditate. Further up from the temple is the Shiva temple at the highest point in the region. Built in 8th century CE, it gives a great panoramic 360 degree view of the valleys and mountain ranges. It’s probably the only temple I have seen in India that also has a meditation room.
These temples are relatively quiet and has few visitors, making this one of the best active temples in India to meditate in.
2. Bhuj, Gujarat
About 12 kilometers from Bhuj, a parched, dry region in the western state of Gujarat, is a Shiva temple built probably in the 11th or 12th century CE.
Located in the middle of nowhere with no mention in any travel book and no roadsigns leading you to it, it’s not that easy to find unless somebody’s given you specific directions. The Archaeological Survey of India has done its job of putting up a board on it. And Gujarat Tourism probably doesn’t even know this beautiful ancient temple exists. And that’s good news for meditators.
Nobody knows of its existence and hardly anyone ever visits here, which makes this highly energised place of worship a rare serene temple in India to spend the entire day meditating. The only things that might disturb you there are the birds and the squirrels.
For directions to the temple, pls contact Mr. Manvir Vaghela of Kutch Safari Resort, Bhuj.
3. Isha Ashram, Coimbatore
The Isha Yoga Ashram in Coimbatore, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is located in a beautiful, cool place on the foothills of the Velliangiri Hills.
The hills, known as the Kailash of the South, has special significance as Lord Shiva is supposed to have spent some time here back in the day. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha, says that his Guru had left his body on the hills. As did Sadhguru’s previous incarnation — Sadhguru Brahma Yogi — contributing to the highly energised state of these hills.
The star attraction in the Isha Ashram is ‘Dhyanalinga’.
Dhyanalinga is a 13 feet high Shiva linga made of high density black granite. It was consecrated by Sadhguru using the ancient yogic practice of Prana Pratishtha and is supposed to be the first of its kind to have been completed in the last 2000 years. A large dome of 76 feet diameter and 33 feet height covers the sanctum sanctorum.
The Dhyanalinga is an energised body divided into 7 parts just like the chakra system of the human body. Meditating there is like meditating in the physical presence of an enlightened being like the Buddha. With each day of the week corresponding to one chakra, you can work on and activate each chakra by meditating there for 7 consecutive days.
Dhyanalinga is Sadhguru’s life’s work as, according to him, this is the purpose for which he was born. It was his Guru’s wish to have a structure like this on earth, to fulfill which has him taken two lifetimes.
4. Arunachala, Thiruvanamalai
Arunachala Hill in Thiruvanamalai is another highly energised space in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu. The great Indian mystic Ramana Maharshi called it the spiritual centre of the universe.
There are a couple of caves on Arunachala where Ramana Maharshi had meditated for 22 years. These caves are highly energised spaces and it’s a favorite for meditators.
Ramana Maharshi’s ashram is located at the foothills and it’s a great place to stay if you plan and book in advance. The morning and evening prayers at the ashram temples are truly uplifting experiences.
Ramana Maharshi advised everyone to circumambulate the hill walking clockwise. If you decide to do so, start early at 4am and walk slowly and intently. By the time you complete 3/4ths of the walk, prepare yourself for a massive surge of energy.
5. Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
North of Himachal, South of Ladakh, and West of Tibet, Spiti is one of the most stunning places one can ever visit. There are few places better than this for quiet solitude and reflection.
Getting to Spiti is tough. But that makes it all the more worthwhile to visit.
While in Spiti, one should stay in the villages, in the homes of the locals, and meditate in or near the village monastery, usually located at the highest point there. Komic, the highest village in the world, has only 13 homes and a beautiful monastery, which you could choose as your meditative base.
Imagine meditating at 4,900 meters in a place that looks like this.
6. Pushkar, Rajasthan
The temple town of Pushkar in the western Indian state of Rajasthan is a great place to chill and meditate.
The Pushkar Sarovar area is clean and quiet, making it conducive for mediating. There’s a Brahma temple close-by, great roadside breakfast places and interesting hippie restaurants and cafes. You could cap off a great day of meditation with a bhaang-laced lassi called the Special Lassi at Doctor Nobody’s or anywhere else that has a Special lassi sign. And don’t forget to start your day with a poori-sabzi breakfast on the street near the temple entrance.
Make sure to wake up at sunrise, go to a rooftop and enjoy the beauty of the Pushkar morning, birds against the blue skies flying to the gongs of temple bells ringing in the distance, and ancient houses and temples with hillocks further away making up the skyline.
This place is surreal and will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the 15th century.
7. Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar empire, one of the greatest empires of the world between the 14th and 16th centuries CE. During its golden period, it matched the size and splendour of the Roman empire.
But once the Islamic invaders managed to breach its boundaries, they ravaged everything except the Virupaksha temple, a place Lord Rama is supposed to have prayed to Lord Shiva when searching for his wife Sita. Minutes later, as the legend goes, he came across Sugriva and Hanuman, and the rest is history.
Despite the destruction caused by the invaders 600 years ago, the ruins of Hampi give ample evidence of the grandeur of the place in its prime.
On the other side of the river Tungabhadra is Anjanadri, the hill-top temple where the monkey-God Hanuman is said to have been born.
On the same side is a place that doesn’t find a mention in any tourist map or guide book but makes for a great place to meditate.
While driving in that region, you may come across an elderly farmer by the roadside, who could take you through a narrow gateway in the rocks onto a secluded place that has caves with paintings supposedly from the neolithic era. You can choose the cave that most catches your fancy, tip the elderly farmer and send him off on his way, and spend the rest of the day meditating there.
(It’s probably not a safe place to be at nights and women should be careful.)
8. Netala, Uttarkashi
Nine kilometers ahead of Uttarkashi in the Himalayan state of Uttaranchal is a small village called Netala. The river Bhagirathi, which goes on to become the Ganges, flows by gently through the massive Himalayas.
You could walk to the middle of the river bed, find a comfortable rock to sit on, and mediate to the sound of the river flowing by with the tall Himalayan mountains keeping a watch over you.
In Netala, you could stay in Anand Ganga, a small 5-room guest house right by the river bed. Lovely place.
9. Baba Budangiri, Chikmaglur
Amongst the coffee plantations of Chikmaglur in the southern Indian state of Karnataka is a hill called Baba Budangiri. Named after the Sufi mystic Baba Budan, who supposedly brought coffee into the region from the Arab, the hill stands majestically tall overlooking the region.
On Baba Budangiri is a beautiful little lake and a Shiva temple that makes for a great meditation place. You’ll especially like it if you’re spiritual and adventurous because, lately, tigers have been spotted in the area.
10. Sarnath, Varanasi
Just outside the ancient holy city of Varanasi is Sarnath, a great place of learning and education more than 2000 years ago. The largest structure in Sarnath is the Dhamekh Stupa — 43.6 meters in height and 28 meters in diameter — originally built by King Ashoka in 249 BCE and rebuilt in 500 CE. It is at this spot that Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon to his first five disciples after attaining enlightenment revealing his eightfold path to nirvana.
It’s a quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of Varanasi, where you could meditate in the company of Buddhist monks who visit the place daily from all parts of the world.