Sacidananda Ashram (Shantivanam)
Frequently Asked Questions
by overseas visitors wishing to visit us.
Revised Feb 2012
What is the function of the ashram?
The aim of the ashram is to establish a way of contemplative life, based alike on the traditions of Christian monasticism and of Hindu Sannyasa. Our life is based on the Rule of St.Benedict., the patriarch of Western monasticism. The ashram seeks to be a place of meeting for Hindus and Christians and people of all religions or none, who are genuinely seeking God. We have many visitors from many parts of India and fromall over the world, who are seeking God by way of different religious traditions, and we seek to respond to the need for a spiritual centre where such people can come and find an atmosphere of calm quiet for study and meditation.
Where is the Ashram?
The ashram is in a village called Tannirpalli, in Tamil Nadu State, South India, and 200kms SW of Chennai. It is situated on the Southern bank of the river Kaveri (old spelling Cauvery), 38 kms west of the town of Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) and 3 kms east of the town Of Kulithalai.
What is the full address?
Shantivanam, Tannirpalli (Post)
Kulithalai (Tk), Karur Dt. Tamil Nadu
639107 - South India
Telephone 0091(0)4323 222260 *
How do I get there?
By air. There is an airport at Tiruchirapalli, (airport code TRZ, for the use of travel agents!), which has connecting flights with Chennai, and Colombo (in Sri Lanka) and taxis are available at the airport direct to the Ashram (cost around 800 Rupees.)
By train. There is a railway station, Tiruchirapalli (known as Trichy) Junction, (TPJ station code for use when booking!) which has trains from Bangalore, Trivandrum, Cochin, and Chennai passing through. Taxis are available direct to the ashram, cost 700 Rupees. Train tickets, which need to be bought in advance, can be booked from overseas, using www.cleartrip.com
Regular buses also run from Trichy ‘Central Bus Stand’ to Karur, via Tannirpalli and Kulithalai. However, if you have large luggage, it is advisable to go by taxi!
What is the weather like? When is the best time to come?
South India has a tropical climate. Tamil Nadu has monsoon rains mainly in October and November, though there is some rain from July onwards. The months of April, May June are particularly hot and humid. The most popular months for people from overseas to visit are December, January, February.
How long can I stay?
We strongly recommend that you stay for a minimum of 3 nights; giving you 2 whole days to get to know the rhythm and life at the ashram. Visitors from overseas are welcome to stay for up to 2 weeks. If you want to stay for a longer period, you would need to make arrangements with the Guest Master Brother George (email email@example.com). The Ashram, like all places providing accommodation in India, has to keep a record of all visitors for police purposes. Please make sure you bring your passport and visa with you.
Do I need to book?
It is not essential to book during the months March – November. . On arrival, you will be offered whatever accommodation is available and appropriate. However if you know your arrival day, then it is helpful to let the guest master know. During our busiest months, December to February it is necessary to book, and receive confirmation from the ashram before your arrival.
How much does it cost?
No charge is made for food and accommodation. However a voluntary donation is 600 Rupees a day) is most welcome to help with the running costs of the Ashram, which employs about 30 local staff. The ashram also supports a number of social projects in surrounding villages. You are welcome to contribute to this work, which relies on donations from visitors and other supporters. We are aware that our visitors come from a wide range of financial backgrounds, and we would not want to discourage those with limited financial means from visiting us.
What do I bring?
You will need to bring your own towel and soap, a torch (flashlight), mosquito repellent, and toilet paper.
What is the accommodation like?
It is basic, but adequate. A mixture of twin bedded and single accommodation. Most of the rooms/ huts have electric fans, and attached bathroom (or bathroom nearby). The toilets are a mixture of Western and Indian (squat) style. Bed linen and mosquito net is provided. You will need to bring your own towel.
Is there a shop nearby?
The ashram has a small bookshop, open each day, which ,besides books, sells basic personal items ( toothpaste, soap, washing powder, toilet paper, etc). Other items can be obtained in Kulitallai – 2 kms away.
Clothes washing facilities are available, and a drying line.
What is the food like?
It is simple, vegetarian, South Indian food, with mostly rice-based meals. Milk is provided from the ashram cows. Boiled and filtered water is available.
What’s the daily timetable?
5.00 a.m. Angelus (wake up bell)
5.30 a.m. Namajapa (chanting), and private meditation
6.30 a.m. Morning prayer, ( 6.45 on Sundays ) Eucharist, breakfast
10.00 a.m. Coffee break
12.00 noon Angelus bell
12.15 p.m.Midday prayer, meal, silence
3.30 p.m. Tea
4.00 p.m. Talk by Brother Martin on scheduled days
6.00 p.m. Angelus, meditation, silence
7.00 p.m. Evening prayer, supper
9.00 p.m. Namajapa, silence
What is expected from guests?
a) To concentrate on the purpose for which they have come to the ashram, and to observe quiet in and around the ashram so as to preserve the atmosphere of peace and prayer.
b) To refrain from smoking in the ashram and from taking liquor or drugs during their stay.
c) To help cut vegetables after breakfast
d) To respect the times of silence, which are:
Guest should not give any money or gifts to the individual. If at all you want give something to a person,It should go throw the guest master or the superior.please co-operate with us well running of the Ashram.
From services until the end of meal times
From noon prayer until afternoon tea
From 6pm (meditation time) until after supper
If you have further questions, not covered by the above, please contact
Phone: +0091(0) 9443332117, 9003713314
who will do his best to answer them
Shanthivanam Guest Master.
Yours in Christ,