Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sustainable Philosophy + The Ultimate in Guest Experiences = Dunagiri Retreat

We hope that all of our friends have taken a look at our web site and have read about the tours that we offer. It is ultimately important for us to give our guests an amazing tour experience, while offering the highest standards of hospitality and care. It is also important to us to create an understanding of our philosophy and the deep dedication we have towards operating Dunagiri Retreat in the most sustainable way possible, and share this passion with our guests and friends. In an area of such natural beauty and rich heritage, we at Dunagiri feel it is our responsibility to offer a unique and fulfilling guest experience, and to do so in an environmentally and culturally respectful and aware manner. Our guests experience beauty of nature, the places, the history and the culture of India and of the Dunagiri area…all while working together to protect the environment and benefit local cultures and communities...

At Dunagiri, our guiding philosophy is deeply rooted in sustainable/responsible tourism. Dunagiri keeps our exclusive tours small, averaging only 6-10 guests per tour, one tour a month. Yes, you read right, only 6-10 guests!! We keep our tour size small, allowing each tour to be very exclusive to insure a very personal tour experience for our guests, to minimize impact on the environment, and to allow each guest genuine contact with the place and the people. Indeed, exploring and sharing the deep understanding and pride the local people have for their heritage and the land they love adds much to what makes the experience at Dunagiri truly unique for our guests.

Accommodations at Dunagiri Retreat are comprised of two lovingly restored guest houses located on lush terraced hillsides and bordered by peaceful oak forests. The guest houses have been restored by local craftsmen, using time honored building techniques, local building supplies and have provided much needed income for many of our neighbors. Great care was taken to use natural products when restoring the guest houses, both inside and out. Even our furniture, designed by Dunagiri's Piyush Kumar, was created from local timbers by our talented carpenters. Surrounding the guest houses are organic herb and vegetable gardens, fruit trees and quiet sitting areas, all with breathtaking vistas. We have planted many native species, ranging from trees, native fruits and vegetables, wild and cultivated flowers, to native medicinal plants.

Food is prepared at Dunagiri Retreat using garden fresh seasonal produce procured from our own, as well as neighboring, organic farms, creating a much needed sustainable market for local farmers. The cuisine is vegetarian and comprised of deliciously prepared traditional regional dishes. Guests get an authentic taste of the wonderful local cuisine during their stay with at Dunagiri Retreat.

Our guests' visits help tremendously in addressing the livelihood issues of the local community – from generating employment for the local community to a local market for organic farm produce. Dunagiri tours offer our guests the chance to experience local daily life and culture…creating a wonderfully positive experience for both guests and local people. With each stay at Dunagiri, a portion of guests’ tour costs directly support a variety of community projects... directly contributing to charities and non profit organizations working closely within the local community. Guests may also chose to participate directly in a variety of community volunteer projects..all adding to the positive experience of a stay at Dunagiri.

We simply ask that our guests live by our own philosophy of respecting and preserving our retreat’s natural and cultural environment…tread lightly…all while enjoying tranquility, beauty and receiving the highest standards of hospitality and care.

Dunagiri guests are truly leading efforts to give back to the local communities and enhance the livelihoods of local people through their own sustainable tourism choices and involvement. Not only do our tour guests return home with a sense of satisfaction from participating in an amazing tour where they have enjoyed being immersed in India and the Dunagiri area, having made a difference in the world…but also with a unique and intimate understanding of a place and its people.


Dunagiri...History, Spirituality and Yoga...

India is often described as one of the most spiritual places on earth. Dunagiri is one of those special places where, it is believed “the distance between heaven and earth shrinks, the veil between the two worlds becomes so thin; one is actually able to perceive something of heaven itself”. Its greatness lies not merely in its fascinating history and captivating natural beauty, it is rather the serene and spiritual atmosphere of this place that strikes the mind and brings peace to the soul. For spiritual practices, Dunagiri offers particularly charged vibrations that are readily apparent to a sensitive practitioner.

Sensing the deep spirituality of these sites, ancient people built many of their places of worship here, or simply marked them with stones, and later yogis and monks also built their ashrams and hermitages here. Visiting these sites even today, one can lose all track of time and space, feeling deep inside that one is on holy ground. Dunagiri - also known as Drongiri, is known as the birthplace of present day Kriya Yoga. It is mentioned in the book “An Autobiography of a Yogi” by Swami Paramhans Yogananda.

Dunagiri...History, Spirituality and Yoga...

“Spirituality is not a progress or a search or travel in time. It is travel in eternity.”
The Principles of Sahaj Marg, set 1, p. 86 lecture "Religion and Spirituality" -Rev. Chariji

From very early times places such Drongiri (Dunagiri), Badrinath, Kedarnath have been known as Soul of Gods (Devatma Himalaya) since these places are also the meditation spots (asanpeeth and sadhna-sthali) of many realized souls. Dunagiri or Drongiri is counted amongst one of the seven Kulparvats of the Purans. It is said that just like grass and shrubs growing near a sandalwood tree imbibe some of the fragrance of sandal, similarly every part of these mountains is imbued with the spiritual vibrations of the “realized souls”.

For spiritual yogis, Dunagiri shaktipeeth is an extraordinary place to gain special progress in their path. Seekers can feel the palpable vibrations and divine energies of saints who have meditated here since millennia. The trees and naturally growing medicinal-herbs in the forests here seem to be also charged with these vibrations. Due to this, it is believed the process of dhyaan and samadhi is facilitated with divine assistance. For followers of spirituality, Dunagiri is known to be a concealed shaktipeeth (gopniya shaktpeeth) where the primordial power removes the veil of Maya and Illusion and propels as well as motivates one towards the path of Pure Truth and Liberation. According to Swami Satyeswarananda Giri there are only two Vaishnavi Shaktipeeths in India. One is Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir, and the other is Dunagiri which is a gupt shaktipeeth and hence not counted in the 51 shaktipeeths mentioned in the Puranas (though some other texts such as Devibhagwatpuran, Matsyapuran etc. mention 108 shakipeeths). Dunagiri is significant since like Vaishno Devi in J&K, it is a self-evolved (self-evident) shakitpeeth, not based on the story of Daksha’s Yagna after which Devi’s body parts fell in several places where a shakitpeeth was established thereafter.

From time to time spiritual seekers have been blessed with the light of self-realization at Dunagiri. The divine power, Shakti, has been witnessed here by saadhaks. Dunagiri attracts such saadhaks (seekers) from not only Uttarakhand, but also from Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Southern India. It is also a special place for many seekers from foreign countries who visit to meditate here.

Dunagiri and Kriya Yoga
Dunagiri is also intimately associated with Mahavatar Babaji and Kriya Yoga. It was at Dunagiri in 1861 that Shyamacharan Lahiri, better known as Lahiri Mahashaya, was given initiation into Kriya Yoga and the discipline of Kriya Yoga was re-established in the world after having been ‘lost’ for centuries. This first meeting, spectacular and miraculous, occurred at a cave at Dunagiri. The full account of this meeting is well documented in the famous book “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Swami Yogananda Parahamsa (chapter 34-Materializing a Palace in the Himalayas). The cave at Dunagiri is well marked and is visited by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.

Swami Satyeswarananda Vidyaratna also meditated at Dunagiri for twelve years before receiving Purna Diksha from Mahavatar Babaji. He has also recounted in books his meetings with Mahavatar Baba at Dunagiri.

Other famous Saints connected with Dunagiri:
Among the famous saints of Uttarakhand who are known to have made Dunagiri as their sadhna-sthali (chosen place for spiritual practices) are Haidakhan Baba, Neemkaroli Baba, Sombari Baba, Harnarayan Swami, Shri Ram Baba, Mahatama Laxminarayan Das, Nantin Baba, Mahatama Balwant Giri, Mahant Pawan Giri and Baba Kisan Giri. Mahavtar Baba gave initiations to Haidakhan Baba in Manas Yoga, to Neem Karoli Baba in Mantra Yoga and to Sombari Baba in Pashupat Yoga (The Divine Himalayan Yogi by Sw. Satyeswarananda Maharaj, Page 108-109). After Dunagiri these saints traveled to various parts of India and established ashrams there.

To learn more, please visit our web site at http://www.dunagiri.com/Yoga_Spirituality_Tours.html