After 14 hours journey from Rishikesh I reached the Yogoda Satsanga Society Sakha Ashram in Dwarahat, India and stayed there for 10 amazing days, from the 19 of May until the 29th of May. I have so many positive feelings and memories from my stay at this Kriya Yoga Ashram, not so far away from Mahavatar Babaji's cave, dedicated to Paramahansa Yogananda's devotees. This visit connected me to my own country in so many ways.
The surroundings and the weather are just like the highlands in Ecuador. The landscapes, the vegetation, the way the houses are spread on the highlands, all so similar. The bumby and curvy journey reminded me of trips that I've made in Ecuador to Chugchilan, the Quilotoa Lake and many other places.
And the ashram reminded me of my "spiritual roots". I started my "spiritual" journey at the "Asosiacion Escuela de Autorealizacion" in Ecuador, an ashram school founded by Padre Cesar Davila, a Catholic priest who became a meditator and kriyaban under the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda.
The group meditations reminded me clearly the group meditations at this school in Ecuador. Oh, how much I miss them, just by thinking about it my heart trembles and feel like dropping some tears. Such a powerful energy that you only become aware of it when you don't have it anymore. My stay here reminded also of our retreats in "Baños de Ambato" a beautiful location in the highlands of Ecuador. And the chantings....., the "Cosmic Chants", though I know the originals are in English as Yogananda taught them, the Spanish version sounds so much better, believe me.
About the Ashram
The Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram was founded by Sri Daya Mata, the spiritual director of Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) who recently (November 30, 2010) left her physical body. The SRF organization was created by Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the classic "Autobiography of a Yogi", to spread his teachings in the west. Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) is the sister organization of SRF to spread the teachings within India and Pakistan.
The ashram is for those who are followers of Paramahansa Yogananda and regular meditators and kriya yogi practitioners. I think If you are not Yogananda's follower then you wont feel connected to the place at all. And the accommodation is only for those who are Self Realization Fellowship or a Yogoda Satanga Society members but you can only stay for a few days. I wanted to stay for two weeks but they allowed me to stay for 10 days only, not bad at all. It is also used as a base to visit Mahavatar Babaji's cave near Kukuchina.
The ashram is pretty small. They have about three rooms for guests in one building, a meditation hall, a temple, a meeting room, a bookshop and the dinning hall, but attached to the ashram there are a free school for childrens and a sort of hospital, both financed by the donations received at the ashram. They don't charge for the accommodation or meals, they only suggest you to make a donation according to your will and capacity.
The surroundings are just beautiful. Is so nice to take a walk in the road outside the ashram after breakfast or lunch. I use to sit in a rock which was just a few minutes walk from the ashram. I call it my "thinking rock", cause i did a lot of thinking at this magic place.
The people working at the ashram are very friendly and the Swami in charge is really nice. He gave me some pretty good advice to improve my Kriya Yoga practice.
About the food
The food is delicious, great home made Indian food. Sometimes a bit too spicy though. And if you need anything else like fruits you can just go to the Dwarahat market by foot (20 minutes walk) and buy whatever you need.
The daily schedule is pretty easy to follow. You actually get busy starting at 5.30 pm and the rest of the day is for you to do whatever you want to do. Thursdays and Sundays are an exception. On Thursdays there is a long day meditation that goes from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm and from 7 pm to 9 pm, but it is not a non stop sitting meditation. There is actually a lot of chanting and reading in between as well. On Sundays there is a satsanga starting at 10 am.
According to the daily schedule there is a Bhagavad Gita class from 7pm to 7.45pm. This was more like a conversation with Swamiji, he would sit and read not only the Bhagavad Gita but anything that he might find convenient. Then he would make comments and ask for feedback. During my stay he was reading different articles from a very old SRF magazine.
Regular daily Schedule
17:30 to 19:00 Group Exercises and Meditation
19:00 to 19:45 Bhagavad Gita class
10:00 to 11:30 Satsanga (Sunday Service)
17:30 to 20:30 Group exercises and meditation
16:00 to 18:30 Long Meditation
19:00 to 21:00 Long Meditation
How to reach to the Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram
This is the route that they suggested me to take when I call them by phone before leaving Rishikesh.
- From Rishikesh take a public bus from the main bus stop to Haridwar. (45 min)
- From Haridwar take the night train to Kathgodam which leaves every day at 00h20 and arrives at 07h10. There is only one train per day: Train No 14120 - DDN KGM EXPRESS
- From Kathgodam take a share taxi to Raniket (4 hours) and from Raniket another shared taxi to Dwarahat (3 hours). The share taxi from Kathgodam up to Dwarahat should be around 250 or 300 rupees.
- From Dwarahat market you can either walk to the ashram (about 20 minutes walk) or ask the driver to drop you at the ashram itself. I think the best is to agree with the driver as soon as you get in the taxi to drop you at the ashram. Everybody in Dwarahat knows the ashram.
The share taxis are usually jeeps, the most common means of transportation in this region. Make sure you agree on the price before getting in the taxi and be aware that there would be a lot of taxi drivers just outside the train station telling you that there are no share taxis "today" going to Dwarahat. If you don't find any taxi just outside the station then when coming out of the train station walk towards the left and follow the road up. You should find plenty of taxis parked there.
Ashram contact information
Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram, Dwarahat
Dwarahat - 263653 Dist.- Almora, Uttarakhand
Phone: +91 5966 244271, +91 5966 244671
Website:Yogoda Satsanga Society Ashrams
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Take a look at the video and other related posts
- What to Pack for Your Next Travel and Yoga Adventure to India
- Video: Babaji's Cave, the Pandavkholi Dharamshala and Kukuchina.
- Journey to Mahavatar Babaji's cave in Kukuchina, Dunagiri, India
- The Pandavkholi Dharamshala and Mandir, Dunagiri, India
- A meditation retreat in Kukuchina, near Babaji's cave. Dunagiri, India