There are certain places in Haridwar, which inspires in admiration and brings tourist one step closer towards the ancient Indian tradition; Shantikunj Ashram is one such place that perfectly fits in this category. On a spiritual tour to Haridwar, don't forget to visit Shantikunj Ashram, a unique academy for religious and social awakening. Situated on the bank of river Ganga, Shantikunj is the headquarters of the All World Gayatri Parivar in India. Set amidst the lush green gardens, Shanti Kunj Ashram provides lodging, meals, and spiritual activities. The ashram was established under the guidance of Rishi Satta of Himalaya, for a fundamental purpose to revive and develop old Rishi traditions. Currently, the temple is managed by the Mrs. Shailbala Pandya daughter of Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya.
Key features of the ashram are:
1) Prakhar Pragya & Sajal Shraddha: Splendid Prakhar Pragya & Sajal Shraddha are two beautiful marble temples, which features the foot impressions (Charan Peeths) of the intellectual giant Param Poojya Gurudev and Vandneeyaa Mata Ji. In the front of the temple, there is a sacred granite tomb of the departed Rishiyugm.
2) Yagya shala: In this particular section of the temple, one will find three canopies where every morning yajnas are performed.
3) Gayatri Mata Temple: A magnificent temple sacred to Gayatri Mata, featuring idols of Sapt-Rishis (ancient seven eminent saints).
4) Akhand Deep: Akhand Deep is a lamp lighted in 1926 by Pandit Shri Ram Ji. According to the volunteers, Acharyashri performed intense spiritual penance in the presence of this eternal flame and thus made it the root source of all the achievements of the huge Gayatri Pariwar (family). By far, more than 2400 crore Gayatri Mantra have been chanted in the presence of Akhand Deep.
5) Devatma Himalaya Temple: In this unique temple, tourist can get sight of Char Dhams (Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri), the pious streams of holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna, and five Prayag (Nand Prayag, Vishnu Prayag, Karn Prayag, Rudra Prayag and Dev Prayag).
6) Institute for research on scientific spirituality/ Brahmvarchas Shodh Sansthan (Research Institute) : Founded by Pandit Shriram Sharma in 1979, Brahmvarchas Shodh Sansthan (Research Institute) features well-stocked libraries, state-of-the- art laboratories and botanical garden containing rare ayurvedic herbs. Major areas of research include Ayurveda and Yagyopathy, the philosophy and science of yoga, the science of Vedic mantras and its therapeutic applications, mantra, tantra, Sadhana and the science of spirituality.
7) Hospital & Dispensaries: Well furnished dispensaries where the patients are treated with Ayurveda, Homeopathy, and Allopathy.
8) Exhibition of the Divine Culture: It is a picture gallery that exhibits photographs, depicting the life history of Revered Gurudev and Revered Mataji.
9) Haritima Devalaya: Temple is having a rare collection of herbs and rare plants, found in the different regions. The visitors are given saplings of various plants in the form of blessings.
10) Book Stall (Enlightening Literature: Acharyashri wrote about 3200 books on the different aspects of human life, and the copies of the same are available for sale on the book stall. Herbal medicines, inspirational audio and video CDs of the Mission, and stickers are amongst the various other things that can be seen in the book stall.
11) Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya: Established in 2002, under the act of Uttarakhand Government, Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya is managed by the Sri Vedmata Gayatri Trust, Shantikunj Haridwar. The University offers certificate and diploma courses in various areas of Alternative Therapy, Indian Culture, Yogic Science, Tourism, Rural Management, Theology (Dharm Vigyan), and Spiritual Counselling.
Following are the specialities of the Shantikunj Ashram:
1) Shantikunj, an academy for personality refinement, enables the devotees to rise above the mean mentality of caste, creed, sect, religion, etc. Also, the institution encourages its followers to live a holistic life. People from all walk of life, visit Shantikunj Ashram to practice spiritual penance and training programs.
2) In Shantikunj, tourist can find an extremely favorable environment and intense spiritual energy for the upliftment of body, mind and conscious, under the proper guidance of spiritual leaders.
3) Life in Shantikunj is both peaceful and healing. Dedicated volunteers of this vast spiritual center follow and practice the Joint Family System, an ancient Indian tradition. Devotees, who are working in the Shantikunj as volunteers, are involved in the various tasks as per their expertise and different resources as per their basic needs are made available to them.
4) Teachings imparted in Shantikunj are a confluence of Dharma (moral duty - Spirituality) and Science. Mostly devotees here know about the scientific basis of all the spiritual activities that are performed here.
5) Around 6000 Shaktipeeths-Branches established all around the world by Gayatri Pariwar gains continuous inspiration and guidance from Shantikunj for conducting mass awareness campaigns and strive for the revival of spirituality.
For accommodation, there are many options available in Shantikunj for free. Maximum two days rest permission is given to visitors, and they are expected to participate in all its daily activities. Life in Ashram starts at 3:30 in the morning, followed by Gayatri Mantra chanting, Sun Meditation and Akhand Deepak (Lamp) darshan. Two meals are offered free of cost to every resident and devotees.