Meditation centre for peace: Ganeshpuri, Maharashtra
About 2 km from Vajreshwari is Ganeshpuri. Here there is a Nityananda Ashram that was built in the memory of the loin-clothed sage Nithyanada who took samadhi here decades ago. This ashram is flocked by many tourists including foreigners throughout the year. Many of the foreign travellers come to the ashram for meditation, Yoga and enlightenment.
To reach Ganeshpuri follow the same route to Varjeshwari. About a kilometre before Varjeshwari is a four-way junction. Turn left at this junction if you are driving and after about 1.5km on this road is the Nityanand Ashram.
The local state transport buses frequently ply between Vasai/Virar on the western line and Thane/Bhiwandi on the central line to Ganeshpuri. This is the most economical way of travel.
Locals claim that the place got the name Ganeshpuri since Sage Vashist did a yagna to propitiate the Hindu god Ganesh here. It was however Nityananda who transformed what was a dense forestland inhabited by a few tribals into a spiritual centre for all those seeking enlightenment.
The Gurudev Sidha Peeth established by Nityananda’s disciple Baba Muktananda is the primary reason for the large influx of foreigners to Ganeshpuri. Spread over an area of 75 acres is the famous spiritual institute, Shri Gurudev Ashram or Gurudev Siddha Peeth. This institute was founded by Swami Nityananda in 1949. In 1956, Swami Muktananda settled there permanently and the ashram began to grow.
Inside the complex of the ashram there are plenty of stalls selling prayer offerings in the form of flowers and incense. Many of the stalls even sell prasad in the form of sweets and pedas. There is also a shop where you can buy yourselves some snacks like samosa and vada pav. The temple and the ashram are constructed in beautiful white marble and granite.
Around the ashram is a new township set up for the resettlement of adivasi tribes, the local inhabitants of this area. Swami Nityananda’s Samadhi, the Bhimeshwar Ganesh Temples are very close to the ashram.
There are also a couple of hot springs beyond the ashram complex. The way to these hot-springs is through the parking lot outside the ashram. The route is easy and one will find plenty of other pilgrims walking this path to the hot-springs. These hot-springs unlike the ones at Varjeshwari are far less crowded, are much hotter and more into the wilderness with the hills and arid land all round for a view. The hot-springs contain sulphur and are reputed for their medical properties known to cure a host of skin diseases and other body ailments.
En route to these hot-springs are a couple of small make-shift stalls selling chai (tea). These stalls also serve toddy (local alcohol drink) on request in beer bottles. The cost of a glass of toddy is approximately the same as the cost of the whole bottle. This is a must have drink while returning back from the hot springs. Near these tea stalls there are a couple of banyan trees that are home to a few travelling sadhus who spend their afternoons and nights resting under the trees.
Accommodation around the ashram is in plenty and caters to the needs of all kinds of travellers. There are also a few pilgrim dharamshalas or rest houses that are very economical and are ideal for people who don’t mind staying in dormitories
Ganeshpuri and the ashram, give a very peaceful, calm and serene feel to the whole place. This is the main reason why Ganeshpuri is a place that attracts a host of domestic and foreign pilgrims and tourist all through the year.
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