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The Velliangiri Foothills as seen from the Isha Yoga Center
Isha Yoga Center is an ashram  near the city of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, southern India. The ashram was founded by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev two decades ago and is administered by the Isha Foundation. It is located on 150 acres of lush land at the foothills of the Velliangiri Mountains. Surrounded by thick forests and situated right next to the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the ashram is the site of the Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple and the Linga Bhairavi Temple and hosts several yoga programs every month.
The nearest airport is Coimbatore, about 35 kilometers away. Coimbatore is well connected to all the major cities in India. Pre-paid taxi counters are available at the Coimbatore Airport. The taxi fare from the airport is Indian Rupees (INR) 900. Pay the fare at the counter and mention the destination as Isha Yoga Center. The prepaid counter does not assign a particular vehicle to a passenger, so once you collect your receipt, you can choose a vehicle of your choice. Usually, it takes a about an hour-and-a-half for the taxi to reach the Yoga Center. If there is no traffic on the roads of Coimbatore, the drive lasts about an hour.
Coimbatore is the nearest railway station. It is a major rail-head and is well connected to all parts of the country. Prepaid taxi counters are available from the Gandhipuram railway station. The fare is around INR 550 and the distance about 30 Kilometers.
Map describing the route from Coimbatore to Isha Yoga Center
Coimbatore: 30km. The Isha Yoga Center is situated west of Coimbatore city. Take the Perur/Siruvani road through Ukkadam from Coimbatore. Drive past Alandurai and arrive at Irutupallyam junction. Turn right from the main road. The ashram is another 8 kilometers from Irutupallyam. Signboards giving directions to the Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple can be found all along the way.
Ooty: 120 km. Take the main Ooty road down to Coimbatore. You will be driving past Mettupalayam. Arrive at Coimbatore city and drive towards Perur on the Perur/Siruvani road. The same directions as above hold from here on.
Cochin: 200km. Take the NH47 highway and drive all the way to Coimbatore. Once you arrive at Ukkadam, continue on NH47 for a little less than a kilometer and turn left onto Perur/Siruvani road. Continue driving on the road past Alandurai and arrive at Irutupallyam junction and turn right from the main road. The same directions as above hold from here on.
Bangalore: 350km. Take the NH209 highway and drive all the way to Coimbatore. The NH209 will take you to the Gandhipuram bus stand. Continue on the Dr. Nanjappa Road for 1.5km and take a right onto Avinashi Road. Continue on Avinashi Road for 1km before turning left on to Oppanakara Street. Continue till you arrive at Ukkadam. The same directions as above hold from here on.
Coimbatore: Bus services are also available from Gandhipuram Town Bus stand to the ashram. You need to catch bus no. 14D. The Isha Yoga Center is the last stop on this route and the fare is INR 14. The bus timings for the route 14D from Gandhipuram Bus stand to Isha Yoga Center and back are given in the table below. The exact timings may vary by ten to fifteen minutes, but even if you miss one bus, the next bus will generally be ready to depart within the next hour.
The major attraction for the first-time visitor is the Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple Complex. The Temple Complex is a fusion of various elements, each of which is worth a visit. First park your footwear at the footwear stand. If you decide to leave them somewhere other than the designated area, your footwear may decide to walk off with somebody else. This is a temple complex and walking barefoot is the norm.
The metal Nandi sculpture in front of the Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple
The first place to visit is the Nandi - a large metal sculpture of a bull, reclining in a posture that is simultaneously relaxed and alert. This in a way represents the qualities needed to enjoy meditation. Feel free to ring on the bells hanging around its neck before heading off to the next spot to visit. Move on to the audio/visual center where you will be shown a short introductory video which will give you a better idea of the temple, its background and history. The video is played alternately in both Tamil - the local language, and in English.
You can then begin a short walk around the Outer Parikrama of the Temple Complex. This is a circular path which runs around the main temple - the Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple. The Outer Parikrama incorporates several mystical and aesthetic elements. The monolithic Trimurthi Panel located behind the Dhyanalinga dome depicts the three fundamental qualities essential for a human being's inner growth: Rudra, Hara and Sadashiva. Rudra is an intense state of mind, Hara is the quality of childlike meditativeness and Sadashiva is an ever blissful state of being.
Right opposite the Trimurthi Panel and adjacent to the Isha Yoga Center is the Linga Bhairavi Temple which represents the Divine in its feminine manifestation. Located to the southwest of the Dhyanalinga Temple complex, this deity is unique in that it is in the shape of a linga. The Linga Bhairavi is focused on enhancing the physicality - the material well-being and health of an individual. The temple is open from 6:30 am to 01:20 pm and 4:20 pm to 8:20 pm, seven days a week.
Aarti which is a ceremony of worship offered to the Devi thrice a day at 7:40 am, 12:40 pm and 7:40 pm. It is of approximately fifteen minutes duration and is open to the public. Unlike many temples in India where individuals from foreign countries are not allowed in, the Linga Bhairavi and Dhyanalinga Temples are open to all irrespective of nationality or religion. You can also make several offerings or Arpanas to the Devi on days that are of special significance to them such as the Netra Arpana, which makes a plea to Devi to fulfill desires and wishes. The Devi Abhaya Sutra is a specially consecrated thread which when tied around the wrist is supportive of one’s ambitions and in removing fear or the Samarpanam which enhances general wellbeing for a person and their family.
The Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple is a meditative space and is said to be the first of its kind to be completed in over 2000 years. It was consecrated in 1999 by Sadhguru and it does not ascribe to any particular faith and is open to all irrespective of their religion or nationality. It is open everyday, irrespective of national or cultural holidays from 6am to 8pm. Uniquely among Indian temples, it remains open even during eclipses. Entrance is free. Measuring 13 feet 9 inches, the Dhyanalinga is the largest mercury-based linga in the world.
The Inner Parikrama is the intricate pathway leading to the Dhyanalinga Temple. The first element that you encounter is the 17 foot white granite monolith, the Sarva Dharma Stambha. Symbols of nine major religions of the world are inscribed on three sides of this Stambha as a sign of welcome for one and all beyond religious divide. After crossing the Stambha, you enter the Inner Parikrama. On the left is the statue of Patanjali, regarded as the father of yogic sciences. On the right is the Vanashree shrine, the feminine deity of the Dhyanalinga temple. Six artistically sculptured granite panels cover the aisles, illustrating the stories of six South Indian sages who attained enlightenment. Each panel captures a moment in these extraordinary lives. The Parikrama ends at a vaulted tunnel that leads to the dome of the Dhyanalinga. The earthy colors, the natural granite, the attention to details and the shapes that form the Dhyanalinga temple create a warm and esoteric ambiance.
The elliptical Dhyanalinga dome that houses the linga itself is 76 feet in diameter and 33 feet high. It is a pillarless 250,000 brick structure and was built with brick and mud mortar stabilized with lime, sand, alum and herbal additives without the use of any steel, cement, or concrete. The technology used is this - all the bricks are trying to fall down at the same time but the way they are aligned and balanced ensures they can never fall. This design is similar to that of Roman arch bridges where the keystone ensures the stability of the bridge. The nature of this design ensures a lifespan of at least 5000 years for the dome. The natural draught of air and the choice of natural materials make the dome a cool and soothing space.
At the northern end, the Theerthakund, a water body embedded 35 ft. in the earth, framed by gigantic granite stones and vaulted by a colorful traditional mural depicting the Maha Kumbh Mela. A bath in its vibrant cool waters is said to be a preparatory tool to entering the Dhyanalinga and greatly enhances spiritual receptivity while having an uplifting effect on one's physical and mental well-being.
Every full moon night, an elaborate event unfolds at the Linga Bhairavi Temple. The event begins at 4 PM with the Pournami Abhishekam. Eleven elaborate offerings of butter, turmeric, sandal paste, vermilion, red cloth, lamps, flowers, food, betel nut leaves, betel nut and coconut are made to Devi along with several Aartis. Anyone can watch the Abhishekam, but if you would like to participate in it, be sure to pre-register for the event at tel. +91-0422-2515345 since spaces are limited. Participation costs INR 1100 and does not include stay, travel or food. This Abhishekam is supposed to be particularly beneficial for the overall health and prosperity of the family.
The Abhishekam is followed by the wonderful Linga Bhairavi Procession of the Linga Bhairavi Devi which takes place from the Linga Bhairavi Temple to the Dhyanalinga Temple. The procession begins in front of the Devi temple and is led by a group of people who serve as a ceremonial guard and accompany the Utsava Moorthi form of the Devi while performing Kalaripayattu, an ancient form of martial arts who serve as a ceremonial guard to the Devi. The procession halts in front of the Dhyanalinga temple. There, a Maha Arathi - a devotional fire dance is performed as an offering to the Dhyanalinga. The procession then continues and ends in front of the Devi temple.
Be sure not to miss the Nada Aradhana, an offering of sound to the Dhyanalinga with an ethereal blend of vocals, singing bowls, drums and various other instruments. The offering takes place twice during the day from 11:50 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. and from 5:50 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. These are the only times of the day when the usual silence within the temple is broken.
Visitors coming to the Dhyanalinga Temple can further their experience by attending AUMkar meditation a daily introduction to the mantra "AUM". This meditation is said to have transcendental qualities. The event takes place at the Aumkar Meditation Hall adjacent to the Theerthakund from 12:30 pm to 1:15 pm, and is open to all.
In an endeavor to preserve and promote the uniqueness and diversity of India’s performing arts, the Isha Yoga Center annually hosts Yaksha, a 7-day festival of music and dance. The name of the festival is inspired by Yakshas - celestial beings in Indian mythology. Various eminent artistes perform at the festival, against the backdrop of the Linga Bhairavi and the Dhyanalinga Temple. Each day is an exquisite blend of cultural and contemporary arts and showcases an array of vocalists from the Carnatic and Hindustani styles, instrumentalists including Flute, Tabla and Sarod, exponents of classical dance such as Bharatanatiyam as well as folk artists from all around the world. You can pre-register for the event at tel. +91-0422-2515345. A live webcast of the event is also sometimes streamed from the Isha Foundation website. Yaksha culminates in the night long celebration of the Mahashivarathri festival - one of the biggest and most significant among the sacred festival nights of India. This night is considered the darkest night of the year, and celebrates the Grace of Shiva, who is known as Aadhi (first) Guru from whom the yogic tradition originates. The planetary positions on this night are said to be such that it is very beneficial for one's physical and spiritual awakening and general to stay awake and aware in a vertical position throughout the night. At Isha Yoga Center, each year, Mahashivarathri is celebrated with great exuberance with thousands people from all over the world gathering for this powerful celebration. The celebrations begin at 5:40 pm with Sadhguru conducting the Pancha Bhootha Aradhana. This is followed by "Guru Pooja" at the Dhyanalinga Yogic Temple to all the spiritual masters. At the celebration grounds, the festivities begin with the chanting of Nirvana Shatakam – a chant written by Adi Shankracharya over a millennium ago. This is followed by several events which include Sadhguru's discourses and powerful meditations interspersed with music performances by celebrated artistes. The celebrations culminate at 5.30 a.m. with a meditation by Sadhguru.
Isha Shoppe is the Yoga Center’s in-house store where you can purchase Sadhguru's books, CDs and DVDs in English, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. The Shoppe also features eco-friendly products such as woodwork, bags and stone carvings. Organic fiber clothes such as T-shirts, tops and pants can also be purchased here. Be sure to take a look at the incense sticks which are quite reasonably priced and available in a wide variety of scents. If you are into yoga, you can also buy yoga mats here at prices ranging from INR 550 to 800. The Foundation states that the proceeds from the sales go to the rural women who are involved in this endeavor.
The Isha Nursery is located right next to Pepper Vine Eatery. A wide variety of flowering and fruit plants are sold here.
The Pepper Vine Eatery is open everyday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. Fresh juices, beverages, snacks, dry fruits and confectionery items. Especially recommended are the "ragi" cookies - cookies made from millet and jaggery. A variety of vegetarian Indian dishes such dosa, upma, idli and rice are available for purchase. The rates are reasonable with juices and beverages costing Indian rupees 15 to 30 and main course dishes costing around 40 to 50 Indian rupees. If your palette is unused to Indian dishes, it is best to avoid the main courses dishes which may be slightly on the oily and spicy side. If you like to start your day with a cup of tea or coffee, this is the place to head to in the ashram. If you are looking for something a little different, you can try out the herbal tea and the "sukku" coffee (coffee with ginger extract) which are quite tasty.
If you are staying at the cottages or at Nalanda, two vegetarian meals consisting of Indian cuisine are served everyday at the Biksha Hall. Special diet requests are not entertained because of the sheer number of people who are in the ashram everyday. The dishes served at every meal include salads, fruits, main course meals and occasionally sweetmeats. The dishes aren't as oily or spicy than the average Indian preparation, and if you have a sensitive stomach, it is best to stick to Biksha Hall meals rather than what is served at the Pepper Vine. If you have an especially sensitive stomach, you can also opt to be served non-spicy food. This is served in a separate area in the Biksha Hall. Just ask any of the ashram volunteers for directions and they will be able to guide you. Meals are taken in silence and served, seated on the floor. A small number of chairs and tables are available for the elderly. Everyone is required to attend the meals at the given times. The first meal, a brunch, is served in two batches at 10 and 10:45 am and the second meal, dinner, is served at 7 and 7:45 pm. Food is eaten in traditional Indian style with the right hand, however spoons are available upon request. For a midday snack or juice, you could head to Pepper Vine restaurant. Water purifiers are available in many locations around the ashram with safe drinking water, however bottled water is available for purchase at the Pepper Vine Eatery.
Isha Cottages: Tel. +91-422-2515470, Email:email@example.com. Rooms vary from non-air-conditioned standard rooms which can comfortable accommodate two people to air-conditioned deluxe rooms which can comfortably accommodate three. The cost ranges from INR 525 to 1500 per day. An extra mattress - a thin roll-up type, is also provided for a small fee. The tariff includes two vegetarian meals a day at the Biksha Hall. Prior booking is compulsory and its a good idea to book atleast 2 weeks in advance because of limited availability. This is a great stay option which is available at a reasonable rate. The atmosphere is quite serene and peaceful with a distinctive interior design and Isha's own furniture line contributing to an ambiance of rustic earthiness. Each cottage is furnished with cots, mattresses, clothing racks and an attached bathroom. Good hygiene and cleanliness are maintained with staff cleaning the rooms everyday unless you instruct them otherwise. Purified drinking water is available at the stay area. Friendly reception and housekeeping staff ensure that you have a comfortable stay.
Nalanda Conference Center: Tel. +91-422-2515515,516,421, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org. The Nalanda guest accommodation includes well-furnished, air-conditioned guestrooms as well as a spacious 4-room executive suite. Rates vary from INR 2000 to 7500 per day. The tariff includes two vegetarian meals at the Biksha Hall. Prior booking is compulsory and its a good idea to book atleast a month in advance. This is the best place to stay if you are not counting pennies. The atmosphere is quite similar to the Isha Cottages but with more well-appointed rooms and facilities. Nalanda also has conference rooms which can be booked for business meetings or social gatherings.
STD/ISD landline facilities are available at the Isha Cottage reception for a standard fee.
All major mobile networks have good network coverage here and good reception is almost certainly guaranteed. Sim cards cannot be bought at the ashram and if you want one, you will have to purchase it at Coimbatore. Be sure to carry a photo and a copy of your passport which are needed to complete formalities.
Internet facilities are available at the Isha Cottage reception. You can also purchase a Tata or Reliance USB wireless internet device at Coimbatore. The network used is the same as the mobile network but the speed is rarely as high as advertised.
Bus 14D to Coimbatore starts at the Isha Yoga Center. Alternatively, you can book a taxi at the travel desk near the security gate or at the cottage reception. Although taxis are usually available at short notice, it is best to book atleast day in advance.
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