Forest of Honey
In the north of India, the Aravali Mountains rise from the parched desert plains of Rajasthan. Chief among them is Mount Abu. In ancient texts and folklore, Abu is praised as a holy place, and is associated with the names of sages and seers. Even today, numerous temples and hermitages are to be found in the area. Many former Rajput kings built their palaces and summer homes — several of them have stood the test of time — in the surrounding hills.
Nestled in the cool heights of the mountains is the hill station of Mount Abu, where the international headquarters of the Brahma Kumaris, called ‘Madhuban’ (meaning forest of honey) is located.
A living social laboratory and a largely self-sufficient community, it is the place to which a large international family of practicing yogis comes every year. When one steps inside the holy precincts of Madhuban, one can feel a spiritual energy that gives an experience of peace and inner joy not to be found anywhere else.
In Madhuban, the principal attractions are Baba’s Hut, Baba’s Room and the Tower of Peace. Baba’s Hut is the place where the founder, Prajapita Brahma, did intense meditation, spreading subtle rays of peace to all souls of the world. The Tower of Peace is the place where the mortal remains of the founder father were laid to rest.
The Universal Peace Hall, also known as Om Shanti Bhawan, is the main auditorium in Madhuban. An attractive, free-spanning structure, the Hall seats 3,000 people, and has facilities for simultaneous translation in 16 languages. Opened in 1983, the Hall has been the venue of major international conferences and is visited by more than 8,000 tourists daily.
Madhuban hosts a minimum of 35,000 residential guests annually and is home to about 500 permanent residents who work in the 42 departments that cater to the physical and spiritual needs of visitors from around the world. The departments look after accommodation, laundry, transport, gardens, the audio-visual systems, power supply, sanitation etc. The kitchen can prepare meals for up to 4,000 people at a time; additional kitchens produce toli (much-favoured sweets and savouries) and tea.