One of the things I adore in India is roadside business. Whether it is buying my daily paper, flowers for my hair or a curbside chai the feeling is always the same…pure happiness. This delight doubles when you stay in … Continue reading
Puttaparthi is a wonderful spot to visit. Not only does it have the ashram but it also has some interesting finds such as: ~ Amazing jewellery shopping with our darling Tibetan ladies. ~ Fantastic supermarkets with a vast array of … Continue reading
Serenity rules in Puttaparthi. It is a few years since we have visited last and we have found that since Sai Baba’s passing the ashram and the town of Puttaparthi have become very quiet and peaceful. There is still plenty … Continue reading
I just adore this sign that I saw at the Prashanti Nilayam Ashram in Puttaparthi , India. The sign says SILENCE ~ let’s follow its example and add a little silence into our day…
I know, I know…you are in India on a spiritual search…you are staying at an ashram…and you should be completely focused on the guru. However some of us, especially those like me without a ceiling on the desires, like to do a bit of shopping too.
And let me tell you…it is very hard to resist. This is because around many ashrams in India great little shops have sprung up due to the large numbers of people, both Indian and foreign, visiting the ashram. Puttaparthi is a perfect example of this. What was once a tiny village is now a thriving town. Sai Baba’s death has reduced the number of shops but there are still many to visit.
The main streets for shopping in Puttaparthi are Puttaparthi Main Road, Chitravati Road and Samadhi Road.
There are two great places to eat in Puttaparthi outside of the ashram. The first is the World Peace Cafe and German Bakery upstairs in the Main Road straight across from the ashram. Here you can sit in the lovely airy rooftop cafe or lounge on the cushions in the rooftop booth. The meals are cheap and very tasty. Our favourite is the thin and divine banana pancakes with honey drizzled on the top….mmmm my mouth is watering just remembering them! Their wonderful bakery sells lots of tempting baked treats. The second is the Sai Towers Hotel Vegetarian Restaurant (3/604 Main Road). It too is found just across from the ashram. Our family just adore this restaurant. The Indian menu is extensive and divine. They also have some tasty western meals ~ the vegie burger is a standout. One of the highlights are the endearing waiters who are so sweet and always remember us from year to year when we visit.
Sai Towers also has two shops within its complex. The Sai Towers Book Shop has an extensive range of books on nearly every God, Goddess, Guru, Avatar or Mystic you could name. It also has some wonderful books on alternate health and medicine such as Ayurveda, magnet therapy and reiki just to name a few. There is a lovely Gift Shop with fantastic gifts for those at home such as jewellery, statues and paintings. One year I got some lovely antique enamel ladles here which were very cute.
Straight across the road from Sai Towers in Main Road is a wonderful tiny shoe shop with quirky Indian made shoes and sandals. The lovely cobbler there can mend the sandals on the spot if they need altering.
Right next door to the World Peace Cafe is the quaint Blue Dragon Gallery (SRS Complex, Main Road). Here you can buy amazing Tibetan artworks, jewellery and handmade felt goods such as slippers, puppets purses etc… They also have a wide range of uplifting Tibetan and Buddhist music to buy.
A short walk down the main road from the ashram is the Sathya Sai Super Bazaar. This big supermarket has all your needs plus more. It sells a large array of Ayurvedic medicines and books and their stainless steel section is vast.
The Chitravati Road is wonderful for shopping especially for jewellery. You will find all the Tibetan jewellers here. They sell amazing silver jewellery at very reasonable prices. They also sell lots of Tibetan and Buddhist trinkets which are fun to look through. The Little Tibet Gift Centre is especially good. Choten can make bead jewellery there for you on request.
Craft Kings is located in the Chitravati Road and is great for Indian goods such as paintings, cushions, ornaments etc.. Ganesh is extremely helpful and his prices are fair. Outside his shops sits a lovely old perfume man. Here you can buy aromatic oils and perfumes very cheaply. You can choose the size you would like and the bottles are collector items themselves! The patchouli and amber are especially good. Last time I was there he gave me a free bottle of Blue Moon oil because ” a customer as good as you Madam only comes along every blue moon”…so sweet!
The Samadhi Road is an interesting place for shopping. We have nicknamed it the “religious relics road” as the tiny shops here are jammed packed full of religious statues, jewellery, bangles, brass wear etc… There are hours of fun trinketing to be had in the Samadhi Road.
Puttaparthi also has many internet cafes, money changers, banks, chemists and a post office. There is a lovely Library a short stroll from the ashram called the Shanti Library which is well worth a visit.
I hope this helps you to shop up a storm in Puttaparthi…
One of the first ashrams I visited in India was Prashanti Nilayam at Puttaparthi in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Prashanti Nilayam was the home of the guru Sathya Sai Baba however he passed away on April 24th, 2011 and the ashram now houses his Samadhi (burial place).
Construction of the ashram was started in 1945 and since then it has grown into a sprawling and huge ashram which attracts many visitors and devotees from around the world. I was very fortunate to visit this ashram six times while Sathya Sai Baba was still alive and to experience his darshan (being in the presence of the guru) on many occasions.
Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings are universal and the ashram welcomes all religions and faiths. One of his great slogans is “Love all ~ serve all” and it is a wonderful mantra to embrace and live by. Whilst alive he gave many discourses on human values and ways we can all better lead our lives.
The ashram has wonderful accommodation. It has en-suite rooms and some dormitories at very cheap rates. You cannot pre-book before you arrive however don’t worry as they always have enough rooms. They also have an all-women building (N8) for ladies travelling alone or in a group which is fantastic.
The ashram has three dining halls. A south Indian dining canteen which is quite spicy. A north Indian canteen with delightful Indian food. The western canteen serves western type food such as pasta and pizzas and you can great a great coffee there. You can volunteer to do some seva (selfless service) at the western canteen. They welcome people to serve food and to dry up after the meal. Scattered throughout the ashram there are also little food outlets selling juice, soft drinks, samosas, coffees etc…
The ashram has a wonderful bookshop where you can purchase books, videos and photos of Sai Baba. There is a fantastic two storey supermarket which is open at specified times during the day. The times are separated for men and women. It sells lots of goods at very reasonable prices.
All ashrams have rules and Prashanti Nilayam is no different. They have a strict dress code which must be adhered to. When you book into the ashram you can familiarise yourself with these rules so as not to offend.
So what do you do at Prashanti Nilayam? There are no yoga or meditation classes here but they have some wonderful talks and discussions. Anil Kumar’s Sunday Satsang is especially good. The ashram is a perfect place for your own quiet, private meditation and contemplation. It is most importantly a place to visit the samadhi of a well known Indian guru.
All the gates into the ashram have seva dals (volunteer security) who check your bags and maintain a great level of security. These gates close at night at 9pm. The ashram has a lovely quiet, serene atmosphere and feels very safe.
Some added fun for the kids is the ashram elephant, a museum, space centre and library.
Sai Baba’s Samadhi is located in the Sai Kalwant Hall. You can view the Samadhi between 8-11am and 6-7pm each day. Security is strict to enter the hall. No large handbags, phones, books etc… are allowed. You must also be modestly dressed to enter.
A comprehensive internet site for everything about Sathya Sai Baba is www.saibabaforbeginners.com
More information on Sathya Sai Baba and shopping and eating in Puttaparthi to come…