Context and Location of AZIMVTH Ashram

“Traveller or pilgrim of the inner world,
Fortunate art thou to reach our brilliant air
Flaming with thought’s supreme finality.
O aspirant to the perfect way of life,
Here find it; rest from search and live at peace.”

AZIMVTH Ashram is managed on a not-for-profit basis and is located on the haloed banks of holy Ganges and majestic foothills of mighty Himalayas at Haridwar, India. It aims to improve shared futures using the ancient heritage as catalysts.

CLUSTER AZIMVTH Ashram is located inside a century old cluster, spread over several square-kilometres. The cluster comprises of adjoining and related yet independent entities seeded by the Arya Samaj (an Indian reformist) movement. Originally the entities were structured on the four ashrams or stages of life. Gurukul Kangri University (one of the 45 central universities out of a total of about 750 recognised universities in India) – for student-life, Arya Nagar (inside which AZIMVTH is situated) – a residential area for householder-life, Arya Virakt Vanprasth Ashram – for those who are no more engaged with conventional work, and finally – Arya Sannyas Ashram – for those who have renounced everything in life. All of these four separate campuses have survived, albeit with time induced modifications.

The concept of the Arya Samaj in India is totally unrelated to the extreme rightist movements in Europe.

HOLIEST RIVER, HIGHEST MOUNTAINS The cluster has its own captive meditation and bathing ghat (sort of jetty / platform) upon Ganges that is off the tourist-pilgrim grid. A ladies fire-invocation temple is adjacent to AZIMVTH Ashram and Ganges flows about 100 metres away. Rajaji National Park, also in Shivaliks — a part of the Himalayan mountain ranges — is about 4 km away from AZIMVTH. With the elevation of about 7 km, Nanda Devi is that highest peak of the Himalayas that lies entirely in India, in Uttarakhand. Nanda Devi is a UNESCO site.

MUSEUMS for arts and archaeology, located inside the cluster, houses some rare statues, coins, paintings, manuscripts and artifacts from Harappa culture (c. 2500–1500 BC). The cluster hosts two other museums — one for fire-prayers and Vedas and the other for Ayurveda.

AUROBINDO There are some other entities also within 500 metres of AZIMVTH. For example, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, an old language promotion centre, Patanjal Ashram, Avdhoot Mandal  etc.

YOGA / MEDITATION CAPITAL  Haridwar – Rishikesh, the twin city is the unofficial Yoga capital of the world. In December 2016, UNESCO inscribed Yoga on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

IVY LEAGUE Though still a part of the Haridwar district, 25 km away from AZIMVTH lies the first engineering college of India. At a similar distance, but in the other direction, lies AIIMS, the premier institute for medical education. These form part of the Indian equivalents of Ivy League. Many other firsts in education in modern India / British empire are associated with the region. This builds upon the ancient traditions of Gurukul prevalent millennia ago in Haridwar and the region.

FIRST TRAIN in India operated in the Haridwar district from Roorkee to Piran Kaliyar.

CHINA Uttarakhand state of which Haridwar is a part borders China (Tibet) in north east and Nepal in south east.

SANSKRIT language, the common-root of the 22 official languages in India, is state language only of Uttarakhand (the state Haridwar is part of) amongst 37 states and union territories of India.

10 MILLION+ people visit Haridwar in the period of a month (July / August) for an annual rite. In terms of sheer numbers of gathering of human beings, this is second only to the Kumbh Mela (large gathering) which happens every 12 years in Haridwar. The next one is in the year twenty-twenty-one. During December 2017, UNESCO declared this to be an intangible cultural heritage of the entire humanity.

JULIA ROBERTS Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (facebook) joined a steady stream of visitors to the region who have already become, or are in the process of becoming, celebrities. Some of the others who benefited from their journeys, lasting few days to few years, in Haridwar / region are Steven Paul Jobs (Apple), The Beatles (Rock Band), Lawrence Edward Page (Google), Jeffrey Stuart Skoll (eBay), Uma Karuna Thurman (Kill Bill), Julia Fiona Roberts (Pretty Woman), Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone (Rocky / Rambo), Willard Carroll Smith Jr. (Men in Black), etc.

During October 2018, on his birthday, Will Smith (Aladdin, Men in Black, etc.), a popular Hollywood actor came to Haridwar to pray at the Mrityunjay Temple, the place where Lord Shiva stayed during the betrothal to Parvati. A video of the occasion can be seen below.

Praying for the souls of the deceased is done at another temple. During October 2015, the family of Sylvestor Stallone visited Haridwar to conduct special prayers for a departed family-member. The Narayani Shila Temple at Haridwar is the special temple where people come to pray for the departeds, especially during Shraadh, the fortnight of the deceased. Following is a video on that visit.

CULTURE / UNESCO Several intangible cultural assets of humanity, as inscribed by the UNESCO of the United Nations are associated with Haridwar. Some examples are – Yoga, Kumbh, Vedic chanting, etc.

FORESTS The state of Uttarakhand has large continuous forests. The Valley of Flowers enjoys the UNESCO heritage status. The oldest national park is situated in the state. Some tigers are man-eaters.

ONLY VEGGIES In 2004, the Supreme Court of India upheld the imposition of ban on non-vegetarian food in the integrated religious townships of Haridwar, Rishikesh and Muni ki Reti. Some sects of ascetics allegedly have different life-styles.

OWN PATH AZIMVTH aims to bring together ancient & future, global & local, and art & spirituality. Each participant is encouraged to make her / his own agenda in this context of the cluster and the region.