Top Ashrams in India – Take a small step, bring a small change in your life. Sometimes, everyone feels enervated or depressed and wants a place to relax. The reason might be any, but you only need a solution. I hope 2020 was a good year for you, dear reader, but the year made people addicted to bad news due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
As the year just passed, many of us must be planning to visit at least one beautiful destination to get rid of boredom due to several lockdowns and to start 2021 with zeal because it is essential that makes all the difference.
Top Ashrams In India for volunteering services/free stay (ranking based on popularity):
Planning to visit some religious spot or live in an ashram for volunteering services would be a great step towards improving your inner self. This article explains the best ashrams in India where one can stay for free and enhance your spirituality in the upcoming months. If not this time, we recommend you once in a lifetime.
Volunteering means to become willing, or, in other words, to become an absolute YES to life.
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Isha Yoga Center
Location: Velliangiri Foothills, Ishana Vihar Post, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu : credit Credits @navodit_bedi
Entirely run by volunteers around the world, the center is in Coimbatore which provides numerous and varied volunteering opportunities. Here you will find ways to volunteer such as skill-based volunteering which includes social media management, graphic designing, video editing, and more. Volunteering in the ashram especially event-based volunteering is one of the unique ways to involve yourself in various activities.
Read our complete travel guide to Isha: Isha Travel Guide
To keep the Isha Yoga Center safe and COVID-free, as of now, the opportunity to volunteer at the ashram is open only for those who can stay here for 60 days or longer. Those who wish to stay at the Yoga Center will need to take the COVID-19 test and follow the ashram quarantine procedure.
For more info: https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/volunteer
The Art of Living
Location: Kanakapura Road, Udaypura, Bangalore South, Karnataka
Credit- Art of Living
Founded in 1981 by spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) offers service and yoga fellowship programs for the duration of 2 – 12 months to strengthen your spirit of service. A volunteer needs to spend at least 5 hours of service per day in a gamut of opportunities; program coordinator, housekeeping, content developer, outreach activities, guest services, organic farm and gardening, dining services, and other great learning activities such as hiking and knowledge discussions.
After successfully completing two months, you can join another AOL course part-2 for free and its retreat will be available at a discounted rate.
An application fee of Rs.2500 will be charged for the first time followed by an interview with the program lead and preferences will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. A minimum 2-month period is requested.
Location: Amritapuri PO, Kollam, Kerala
In the ashram, the charitable activities are wonderful, and programs are multi-faceted with several goals. Dedicated to humanity, the ashram works in the field of healthcare, disaster relief, empowering women, cultural and spiritual values, education for everyone, social welfare, nature care or green initiatives, and research for a better world.
The main center is in Kerala, which is the birthplace of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, simply known as Amma. She is a humanitarian, Hindu spiritual leader, and founder of The Mata Amritanandamayi Math. In her ashram, you will see people from all around the world – having different religions under one roof.
For more info: https://www.amritapuri.org/activity
Location: Swargashram Road, Swarg Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
On the bank of the holy Ganges in Rishikesh, Geeta Bhawan is a huge and ancient shrine complex that can accommodate more than a thousand devotees and provides them free stay. It is one of the major tourist attractions in Swargashram, Rishikesh which attracts visitors round the year from every corner. Satsang programs are frequently organized at the ashram and stalls are available to buy clothes, Ayurvedic products, and spiritual books.
For more info: https://www.euttaranchal.com/tourism/geeta-bhawan.php
Location: Chengam Road, NH 66, Thamarai Nagar, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu
The ashram mainly contains a Samadhi hall and Matrubhuteshvara Temple, and hundreds of visitors practice meditation here. They are provided free accommodation and vegetarian meals daily at the ashram. It is requested to follow the daily schedule which starts at 6:45 in the morning and special events are organized at the festivals such as Pongal and Navaratri. The ashram is located around 3km from Tiruvannamalai railway station in Chennai.
Click here for Ashram Virtual Tour: https://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/resource_centre/360-views/
The ashram has limited accommodation with basic amenities. It provides on an average 3 nights stay and needs to be requested at least six weeks in advance. The ashram offers accommodation only for fellow devotees of Sri Bhagavan. We advise you to choose days avoiding in and around festivals or full moon for your visit.
For more info: https://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/ashram
Location: SF-206, A Wing, Siddharth Excellence, Vasna Road, Vadodara, Gujarat
With a strong base of more than 1500 full-time volunteers, the ashram is in Gujarat and conducts regular programs in many areas and participates in several activities such as Senior Citizens Spiritual Service, Vastradan (re-distribution of clothes), Vidhya Sahyog (helping the needy school children) and happiness programs.
Become a volunteer and strengthen their support system as well as participate in their customized programs for organizations and social groups.
For more info: https://anandashram.ngo/
Location: Koregaon Bhima, Shirur, Pune, Maharashtra
Maher means mother’s home in Marathi language. The ashram is established to help destitute children, women, and men from all over the country and supports their rights to a quality of life, irrespective of religion and caste.
The ashram is eagerly looking for passionate people who can work in various activities. It has volunteer opportunities in Pune, Shirur, Kendur, Thakarvasti, Miraj, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. Maher has three homes for children and youth in Jharkhand and two homes in Kerala: one for boys and one for girls.
For more info: https://maherashram.org/volunteering/
Bharat Heritage Services
Location: Pt. Dayaram Institute of Holistic Healings and Sciences, 273, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
You are welcome in Rishikesh for volunteering at Bharat Heritage Ashram which offers Yoga, Panchakarma courses, different spa therapies, detox programs for ailment healings, and rejuvenation. The ashram provides various opportunities to serve underprivileged children and mentally challenged students.
If you can participate in some skillful volunteering services, you may be provided free stays and meals. You will be honored with a certificate at the end of the volunteer program.
For more info: https://www.ayurvedaheritage.org/volunteer.html
Check out my detailed guide on the best things to do in Rishikesh.
Shiva Priya Yoga Ashram
Location: Devaldhar, Chamolgaon, Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand
Situated in Rishikesh, this ashram offers you to learn yoga courses by highly trained teachers and provides fresh yogic meals. Here, you can learn traditional yoga from highly qualified teachers, explore the beauty of mountains, find inner peace through daily meditation classes, and enjoy comfortable accommodation.
It has created the MVP (Meditation and Volunteer Program) to allow participants in the ashram for around 5 hours a day in exchange for free accommodation and food. The activities in which you can participate are painting, construction, social media advertising, web designing, cooking, and gardening, and other related projects.
For more info: https://shivapriyayoga.org/become-a-mvp/
Arhanta Yoga Ashrams
Location: Village Bansarae, Ontwa Purva, Near Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
The ashram is a traditional Yoga school, located in Madhya Pradesh, which offers volunteer opportunities for the period of October till March. A volunteer can expect clean accommodation and meals at the ashram. Here, you will need to enroll for volunteering at least for a month to a maximum of 3 months.
An important note that admission is applicable for those who have graduated from Arhanta Yoga and having a desire to serve, learn and grow.
Location: Swargashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Parmarth Niketan welcomes passionate and dynamic volunteers who are interested to join the initiatives by the ashram to preserve India’s natural heritage. It is the largest ashram in Rishikesh and home to the evening Ganga Aarti ceremony and the annual International Yoga Festival. Some of the great initiatives by Parmarth Niketan are Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, The Divine Shakti Foundation, Interfaith Humanitarian Network, Encyclopedia of Hinduism, The Green Kumbh Initiative, and India Heritage Research Foundation.
The volunteer program involves a learning experience in the ashram. For full-time volunteers, the ashram offers a separate room for stay and three meals a day.
For more info: https://www.parmarth.org/volunteer/
Aum Pranava Ashram
Location: Five Falls Bypass Street, ILANJI (near Tenkasi/Shengottai), Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu
It is a place of social activities and meditation which accommodates disadvantaged children, abandoned elders, and cows. It provides regular school education, nutritious food, medical aid, and ailment treatments to children. Also, the ashram supports their higher education at no cost. The elders in the ashram receive accommodation free of cost, food, and medical care as well.
Your dedicated support will be welcomed at Aum Pranava Ashram through teaching English to kids, helping out in the kitchen, facilitating Yoga classes to the kids, and assisting kids to finish their communication-related assignments. Food and accommodation will be given to volunteers joining the ashram for a period of time.
During the COVID-19 crisis, all protection and attention are given to all children, elders, staff members, and volunteers who decided to stay here because they felt safe and secure.
For more info: https://www.aumpranavashram.org/volunteering/
Location: Domalguda, Valmiki Nagar, Lower Tankbund Road, Hyderabad, Telangana
Ramakrishna Mission is a group of worldwide, spiritual organizations engaged in various forms of humanitarian activities and social services. Many people volunteer their time and energy to help in various service-oriented activities in the ashram.
A volunteer can join in everyday activities such as providing technical assistance to online platforms, teaching languages to students in the ashram, assisting in healthcare units as a health professional, and helping society in cultivating values.
For more info: https://rkmath.org/join-us/
One of the largest spiritual organizations in the world led by women, Brahma Kumaris acknowledges the goodness of all people. It has more than 8500 centers located in 110 countries.
A variety of courses and events are being organized at the centers free of charge. Volunteers can contribute to graphic designing, content writing, web development, professional photography, video editing, and social media management.
For more info: https://www.brahmakumaris.com/volunteer/
Pyramid Valley International
Location: Kebbedoddi Village, Harohalli Hobli, Kanakapura, Ramanagara, Bengaluru, Karnataka
Surrounded by small hills and greenery, the campus is the world’s largest pyramid structure built solely for meditation. The 28-acre campus looks like a serene valley where thousands of people meditate daily inside the Pyramid. In addition, a person can attend training programs, workshops, and numerous talks in the center.
Anyone can register using the link mentioned below to do service to thousands of meditators and takes an opportunity to serve spiritual seekers. The center needs your assistance as a volunteer in coordinating things, video editing, designing posters, content writing, hospitality, website development, social media promotions, and photography.
For more info: https://www.pyramidvalley.org/volunteer
Sathya Sai International Organization (SSIO)
Location: Puttaparthi, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh
SSIO is a well-renowned spiritual organization with the goal of helping people to achieve their self-transformation. The healthcare system of the organization provides free health care to every patient. Its activities include serving local communities during the COVID pandemic, delivering humanitarian aid, and interfaith activities.
The organization charges no fee to join Sathya Sai Center. Volunteers in SSIO perform all kinds of activities such as serving food to needy people and serving children with disabilities.
For more info: https://www.sathyasai.org/about-us/community-service
Maha Bodhi Society
Location: 4A, Bankim Chatterjee Street, Kolkata, West Bengal
Based in Kolkata, the society was founded by a Sri Lankan Buddhist Leader and a British journalist. Its first office was opened in Bodhgaya, Bihar. This society helps people in their spiritual growth and provides a space for nurturing holistic well-being. It organizes cultural programs, Sunday morning service and offers 101 classes of Buddhism on a regular basis.
Volunteer opportunities are open at the temple for participants with or without any kind of training.
For more info: http://www.mbsiindia.org/temple-activities/
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Location: Society House, No. 11, St. Martin Street, Puducherry
Founded in 1926, the Ashram is located in Pondicherry, along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It has an exhibition hall that introduces the vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. The Ashram is open to all.
Sri Aurobindo Society welcomes the volunteers who participate in the activities inside the Ashram premises in a spirit of selfless service. Based on your interest, volunteer your skills and time for upcoming events and ongoing projects in the Ashram. Moreover, you get a very good opportunity to explore the oldest French colony of India.
For more info: https://aurosociety.org/site/login/volunteer
Vipassana means to see things as they really are (Yatha Swaroop). The Vipassana courses are offered in numerous centers all over India and worldwide. During meditation, you cannot be able to talk to anyone in the entire 10 days of meditations, not even with the gesture and also you need not be able to make eye contact with anybody. Mobile phones, laptops, books, or any kind of gadget are not allowed inside the meditation center. After accomplishment of the course, your concentration gets improved because it focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body.
Please remember that to work here as a volunteer, you must have completed a 10-day meditation course as taught by S.N. Goenka.
For more info: https://prison.dhamma.org/en/volunteer/
Location: Jogiwara Road, Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
Started in 2013, Tibet World is an NGO for promoting education, spreading the cultural values of Tibet to the world by inspiring people in every possible way. It offers International language courses to everyone with a strict timetable. They provide training on personality development, computer applications, film production, Yoga, and workshops on various subjects.
Tibet World has a community hall, a library, and a Tibet World community cafe. The center contains a limited number of clean and safe rooms which are economical. If you will stay in the hostel means you contribute to its trust directly.
The center always needs your help in various ways such as cooking, office maintenance, photography, administrative services, teaching, web-designing, and several travel-related services. Tibet World provides lots of facilities to volunteers; airport pickup, accommodation in Tiber World hostel/monastery/guesthouse, orientation with a free map, VISA information, tips for volunteers’ safety.
For more info: https://www.tibetworld.org/volunteers/
What Ananya says about Ashram?
The Sanskrit word ashram originates from ‘srama’ which means ‘giving the meaning of making an effort towards liberation’ and our immense desire to stay in an ashram after visiting so many places is actually connected with an irrepressible urge for liberation. It is a journey of upliftment from being an ordinary bystander to the ultimate higher self.
For a section of people, Ashram is considered to be a sacred place where they can visit for spiritual/religious retreats but for me, visiting such a place is one of the best treats for one’s soul, he or she could ever give. Generally, after a long tiring day, I always love to come back to my own room, not because of the facilities I have around, but there I can just take a deep breath, sit back, and relax and make a distance myself from the worries and frustration I might be having all day. We being the Millennial always tend to neglect our inner growth in order to run after our dreams and our so-called “civilized outlook” towards our daily schedule and lifestyles often make us.
But as we know decision-making is easy, when there are no alternatives, for ‘impassive puppets’ like us, the best possible way to retreat our soul is to ‘create our own happy space within our tiny world’. It is not always feasible to leave everything behind and stay in an ashram for a pretty long time, instead of this, I would rather suggest people ‘make your place as sacred as an ashram and feel the vibes’ so it will be better for a longer run.
A teacher by profession, occasional writer by choice, and cooking enthusiast by passion. Follow her on Instagram:
India has always been a famous destination for spiritual seekers who visit the country to explore its ashrams. You are lucky to be born in India so would be convenient to reach any of your favorite ashrams and spend a few days to months in order to rejuvenate yourself in an excellent way and experiment with silence at the ashram because, you know, each moment of silence brings new fragrance.
Have you a question in your mind? Please ask in the comment box below and if you have already planned to visit an ashram, we will be looking forward to seeing your stunning posts on our TravelEscape Community’s Facebook Page.
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