The world’s largest meditation centre is located in kanha shanti vanam, a meditation retreat centre, located about ~50 km from the city of Hyderabad, in India. Kanha shanti vanam (Kanha) is a blissful township dedicated to the practice of meditation and self discovery.
Kanha Shanti Vanam
Spread across a massive area of 1400 acres, Kanha is the headquarter of Sri Ram Chandra mission (SRCM).
SRCM is a global institution imparting ‘Sahaj Marg’ (or Heartfulness) meditation to thousands of Abhyasis (practitioners) around the world. The institution is currently lead by spiritual master Daaji (Kamlesh Patel). He is 4th in the lineage of masters of this school of meditation.
The meditation centre
A capacity to seat 1 lac practitioners at one time, makes this structure at Kanha, the world’s largest mediation centre. To give you an analogy, it has the same capacity as the Melbourne cricket ground.
The structure comprises of a huge meditation hall, surrounded by 6 satellite meditation halls and 2 secondary halls. The satellite halls are two tiered, with seating facility on the ground floor as well as the first floor.
Practitioners can either sit on the floor or sit on chair and meditate. The main meditation hall, only has arrangements to sit on the floor. Whereas the 6 satellite halls, only have arrangements for sitting on chairs. Huge array of blue chairs are lined up, both on the ground floor and the first floor inside the satellite halls.
Basant Panchami celebrations and Inauguration of the meditation centre
This year the 75th anniversary of SRCM, coincided with basant panchami festival (an Indian festival celebrating the arrival of spring) and SRCM decided to celebrate this milestone with a huge celebration. Thus, the world’s largest meditation hall was inaugurated on the 28th January 2020, on the first day of the Basant Panchami celebrations.
Reaching the meditation centre in Kanha
Kanha is split into four zones, North, East, West and South. Currently, the stay facilities for visitors/practitioners are present in the North, East and South directions. As the meditation hall is placed centrally, the practitioners living in any of the three quarters can conveniently walk up (bus/golf cart services are also available for transporting practitioners to the hall, during the slotted meditation sessions) to the meditation hall. The structure is open from all sides for entry, except the back of the central or main hall.
The people are led into a main hall or the satellite halls through 5 pairs of staircases and one central entrance. So the crowd is well distributed across the entry points and no bottlenecks are faced while entering the hall. The practitioners are supposed to leave their footwear outside the centre, for which arrangements have been made through 40+ shoe racks right outside the various entrances of the centre.
Meditating at the centre
Meditation at the centre happens thrice a day, at 6.30 am, 11 am and 5 pm. Once at Kanha, the schedule of a practitioner is literally eat, sleep and meditate.
One, is however free and also encouraged to do any volunteer work that they like, in the premises, e.g. gardening, serving food, chopping vegetables, doing dishes, selling books, being a cashier, cleaning, any computer based work etc.
My experience at Kanha
This was my first visit to Kanha. And luckily for me, it coincided with the inauguration of the world’s largest meditation centre.
To attend the basant panchami celebrations/inauguration ceremony of the meditation centre, I arrived at Kanha on 26th January 2020. I took a train from Bangalore to Shaadnagar station (near Hyderabad, got off here as it is closer to Kanha compared to Kacheguda/Secunderabad). At Shaadnagar, travel arrangements were made by SRCM, for all the practitioners arriving to attend the event. Similar arrangements were also made at Kacheguda, Secundarad stations as well as the airport. When i reached Shaadnagar, it was early in the morning (around 5 am), so it took us only about 45 minutes to reach Kanha.
As soon as i reached, I freshened up, had my breakfast (at the main dining hall in the east) and was all set for the 11 am meditation. I was very excited to meditate in the new and yet to be inaugurated hall.
As soon as i reached the meditation hall, I was awed by the grandeur of the structure. It was gigantic and uniquely designed. I felt like sitting in one of the satellite halls and quietly walked over to take a seat. As i sat, all the tiredness was behind me and I was ready to connect with the supreme power. I had a great first session.
And just like that, throughout the duration of the celebration, from 28th to 30th January, I had several beautiful meditative experiences. The positive energy was very infectious and I would submerge into a deeper state sooner than expected.
The beauty and the challenge after meditation, was to maintain that positive energy throughout the day. However, while I was there, it was quite easy to do so. All practitioners there were (are) always involved in some or the other volunteer work and I too did the same. I saw so many people selflessly serving others, that the energy quickly caught on to me. It was indeed a very satisfying and humbling.
One more thing which I observed was that, while at Kanha, the practitioners were meditating not only inside the meditation hall, but anytime and anywhere they could. It could be inside the dorms, the parks, the lawns outside the canteens etc. People were sitting for individual, guided as well as group meditations. It was quite inspiring. It also told that one can form a connection with the supreme, anytime one wants, and there are no rules about it.
The entire experience of the five days that I was there, was very different and full of strong positive vibrations. I must say it was a beautiful inception of 2020.
Sharing some details for those who want to visit:
Kanha welcomes members, seekers, friends & families and all those who are interested in experiencing this special place which can be transformative. Group meditations are conducted every morning and evening at 7 am and 7 pm respectively. Instructor led Individual meditation sessions can be facilitated on request.
Staying at Kanha
The stay, as i mentioned earlier is available in any of the three dorms in North, east and south directions of the ashram. These are dorm style accommodations have been designed specially to promote a culture of togetherness among practitioners.
There is no fee for the stay at the dorms. Also, there is no fee for the food served in the main dining hall. However, there are donation counters, where if you feel, you are always welcome to donate and make your contribution in maintaining this beautiful township.
In terms of stay, in case, you are not comfortable with the dorm stay, you can also stay in the hotel, ‘The Pearl’, located inside the premises of Kanha. Prior booking is mandatory to stay at the dorms as well as the hotel.
Apart from these two options, Kanha also has apartment complexes, where one can buy an apartment, if they decide to permanently reside in the township.
Food in Kanha
Food is available for free for practitioners, three times a day in the main dining hall (East quarter). The food is healthy and palatable for everyone. Many of the international practitioners whom I met, who were travelling from Europe, US, South-east asia etc. told that they absolutely loved the food. In fact, it never gave them any stomach trouble, across their multiple visits to Kanha.
There is also a canteen (where you need to pay for the food) within the premises, which offers different varieties of food (continental, south indian, north indian, fresh fruit juices etc.), for those who do not want to eat in the dining hall.
The township also has an Italian restaurant, called ‘Fausto’s’ which is located right above the canteen and offers some really delicious Italian food.
Learning to meditate
For beginners it is recommended that they initiate the practice of meditation with heartfulness trainers/preceptors. The trainers are spread across the world and you can connect with them to start your practice. The trainers are nothing but practitioners who have volunteered for training other people in heartfulness meditation. They do not charge any fee. In fact in the whole heartfulness practice, the institution does not charge any fee for teaching meditation.
If you wish to learn to meditate, you can connect with the trainers near you through the following link:
Just enter the your address/neighbourhood you live in and the link will show you names of all the trainers near you.
One must have a prior reservation for visiting Kanha. To reach the township, one can reach Hyderabad/Secunderabad (in south India) through air or land. The transportation providers at all the travel hubs (the station as well as the airport) are well aware of Kanha and one can rent taxis/autos directly for travel to kanha.
Visit the kanha website from the following link:
Whether you meditate or not, you must visit Kanha Shanti Vanam. It is definitely a place worth seeing and experiencing.