Neem Karoli Baba Ashram

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Weather:

Time Required: 5-6 hours

Timings:

The Ashram shuts down when Shri Ma is not in the premises, and also in the winter months when it becomes very cold. The temples, however, are open all around the year from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM
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Kainchi Dham, Nainital Overview

The Neem Karoli Baba Ashram is a quaint little ashram and Hanuman Temple that is located on the Nainital-Almora road and is popular as Kainchi Dham among the visitors. Situated at the height of 1400 metres above the sea level, this modern pilgrim centre has been built in dedication to Shri Neem Karoli Baba Maharaj Ji, a Hindu guru who was a devotee of Lord Hanuman and is reputed to have performed many miracles throughout his life. Shri Ma, who is the principle disciple of Neem Karoli Baba, now looks after the Ashram which is open for visitors only in her presence.

The Neem Karoli Baba Ashram serves as the perfect image of silence and solitude, for it is tucked away in the foothills, with lush greenery surrounding it. Devotees can even stay at this ashram in Kainchi Dham, which is an altogether different and solemn experience that is hard to put into words. Of course, these devotees are expected to partake in the morning and evening rituals of the ashram without fail, but they gladly do so. Every year on 15th June, the Pratishtha Divas is celebrated at the ashram. A large number of devotees come to Kainchi Dham to get Prasad during this time. A visit to the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram thus is a must, not only for staunch devotees of Maharaj Ji but for any and everyone who wishes to spend a day in peace and silence.

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Since Neem Karoli Baba is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Hanuman itself by his devotees, the Hanuman Chalisa is recited numerous times in the ashram all throughout the day. Shri Ma, who is the principle disciple of Neem Karoli Baba, now looks after the Ashram which is open for visitors only in her presence. Shri Ma often goes to the hills to meditate in peace, and the ashram does not operate in those periods. Pure vegetarian food is cooked in the ashram kitchen. Morning and evening prayers also take place at the Ashram each day. Apart from this prayer routine, no other set practices are to be observed.

It is a fact well known that Neem Karoli Baba had many American followers, which includes renowned personalities like the Apple Inc. Chairman Steve Jobs, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood actress Julia Roberts. Steve Jobs and Kottle had visited the Ashram and stayed there for quite some time many years ago. Upon their return to the US, they decided to start Apple Inc., of which Kottle was the very first employee. Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg had also visited the ashram during his visit to India and sought the blessings of the saint before he came up with the idea of Facebook.

Devotees are allowed to stay at the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, but the authorities need prior intimation so that they can look into the accommodation of their guests. If you desire to stay at the ashram, you will have to write to the manager and request permission for your stay. You must also produce a letter of introduction, a picture of yourself and a reference note from one of the older devotees. People are only allowed to stay for a maximum of three days at the ashram.

The Neem Karoli Baba Ashram is located on the Nainital - Almora Road, 9 kilometres away from Bhowali and 17 kilometres from Nainital. One can board a train to Kathgodam, in the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal, and then take a two-hour bus ride to reach Kainchi, where the ashram is located close to the bus stop.

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