Nepali Times
Now, meditation tourism


As meditation centres go, you cannot find a better place in the world than the hills overlooking Lake Begnas in Kaski. Just 40 minutes east of Pokhara, the location amidst lush forests and the Annapurnas reflected on the ripples of the lake, is soothing even for those who don't come here for meditation classes.

Dhamma Pokhara was established three years ago here to conduct meditation courses that participants say has transformed their lives. The once-a-month training is conducted by teachers nominated by guru S N Goenka in the tradition of the Sayagi U Ba Khin. Participants say they are at ease even before the course starts because of the serenity of the surroundings, and the tranquility enhances the process to purify their minds.
"I never believed such a beautiful place existed in the world," said a student of vipassana after completing her course recently.

Her teacher described the Dhamma Pokhara centre as a "four very" area. "It is very green in the summer, it is very cool in winter, it is very soothing in the spring and it is very beautiful all year around," he says, laughing.

Vipassana's origins date back to the time of the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago when a rich and generous man, Anath Pindika, purchased a plot of land for a meditation centre from a prince by paying an exhorbitant sum.

When people asked him why he paid so much, he is said to have replied: "The price tag is nothing compared the benefit it would give to people."

The Dhamma Pokhara centre was similarly bought by Ratna Devi Bajracharya, a devotee and student of Vipassana from Kathmandu, who donated the property to establish a meditation centre even though she could have easily sold the prime tourism real estate that stretches from the top of a ridge down to the banks of the lake. But, like Anath Pindika, she decided to set up a meditation centre to help people stressed by the demands of a modern lifestyle.

Lots of vipassana enthusiasts chipped in to help get the Dhamma Centre going three years ago with the construction, landscaping and fixing up the water supply and other utilities.

Donations from vipassana teachers, students, organisations made Pokhara's meditation centre possible. Nepal Vipassana Center helped with conducting the meditation courses in the early days.

Dhamma Pokhara is already very popular among Nepal-based expats and tourists, as well as locals for its 10-day vipassana course. "I just wish there were more Nepalis who would learn this wonderful technique of purifying the mind," says Nara Bahadur Guruji who runs the centre.

Just as the tourism brochures say about Nepal, it could also be said of Dhamma Pokhara: "Once is not enough."

Read also:
Vedic yagya in Panauti, STUTI SHARMA

1. sayalay Bhaddamanika

Thanks a lot for sharing the news of Dhamma Pokhara Vipassana Center at Pokhara.  The pictures actually approved what is described as the "four very area".  Have met a practitioner who was on the waiting list, patiently waiting for a space to participate in one of the courses at Dhamma Pokhara Meditation Center.

Yes, meditation practice or meditation retreats become one of the tourist attractions in Nepal.  Some of the tourists come to Nepal exploring its endless natural beauty, and have interest in searching one's inner self by treading on an inward journey, that is, meditation practice.  Some of them even said it is difficult than climbing a mountain!  However in a few beginning days they are starting to aware how they are going to handle their difficulties in the mind which hinder their progress.

In Lumbini where the Buddha was born, the two meditation centers are designed and located according to the Lumbini Master Plan.  Both centers are running the meditation courses regularly.  While the Dhamma Janani Meditation Center conducting its ten day monthly courses and some occasional special courses, the other meditation center, the Panditarama, Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Center operates the whole year round without closing dates.  Most of the students scheduled their visit to Lumbini, Nepal by inspiring the Teachings of the Buddha, wanting to understand the Buddha's gradual Path that leads to peace and tranquility.  Those who are introduced the meditation practice as the beginners, comprehend the peaceful teachings of the Buddha and are doing regular retreats that make them visit to Nepal almost every year.

  Extending their stay in Lumbini for this spiritual practice is a real support to the Nepal Tourism Industry.  Some of the hotels in Lumbini are also engaging by making inquiries to the meditation courses for their visitors. The uniqueness of the Buddha's Birthplace even change the lives of the people who practice regularly.    

As an author Dorji Tsering Sherpa has mentioned the environment of the Dhamma Pokhara Center enhances the purification process of the practitioners, it is very important the supportive conditions are needed to be fulfilled.  The cleanliness and quietude also plays an important role in the meditation practice for it helps unfolding wisdom.

Anyway we wish Nepal a success in promoting every sectors of tourism as well as in the "spiritual tourism".   


2. Dorji Tsering Sherpa
S. Bhaddamanika,

thank you for explaining more about the vipassana meditation and sharing your experiences. Many Nepalese are unaware of this wonderful technique of purifying your minds.

Be happy,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)