Many ashrams ('places of striving') are headed by charismatic gurus. Some tread a fine line between spiritual community and personality cult. Many gurus have amassed fortunes collected from devotees, and others have been accused of sexually exploiting their followers. Always check the reputation of any ashram you wish to join.

Most ashrams offer philosophy, yoga or meditation courses, and visitors are usually required to adhere to strict rules. A donation is appropriate to cover your expenses.

Where to Go

Kerala

Matha Amrithanandamayi Mission Amrithapuri based; famed for its female guru, Amma, ‘The Hugging Mother’.

Maharashtra

Brahma Vidya Mandir Established by Gandhi’s disciple Vinoba Bhave; in Sevagram.

Sevagram Ashram Founded by Gandhi; in Sevagram.

Osho International Meditation Resort Follows the sometimes controversial teachings of Osho; based in Pune.

Tamil Nadu

Sri Aurobindo Ashram Puducherry ashram founded by Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Ramana Ashram Founded by Sri Ramana Maharshi; in Tiruvannamalai.

Kolkata

Belur Math Ramakrishna Mission headquarters.

Leh

Mahabodhi Centre Yoga classes.