Can I Come and Just Look Around?
Yes, most certainly and we hope you do come. However to not be disappointed, plan your visit, as the grounds are open to the public at designated times only. Check these under the drop down menu VISIT>Visit Campus.
Do you offer guided Tours?
Sorry, No. We encourage you instead to explore, sit or stand quietly and often, contemplate and linger to absorb this Oasis, to listen and allow yourself to be filled, recharged and inspired. Feel the special atmosphere of the Shrines and Temples. You may sit in them or nearby and contemplate, to just be. We have found that guided tours create a lot of chatter and visitors then miss that all important opportunity for an experience of tranquility, so needed in this busy world of ours. And then, when you sit quietly, you might discover wildlife you had never expected to be able to observe from so close up. Be here with a child's eye of discovery and wonder, and you will leave refreshed and filled with joy. That is our wish for you.
Are there any rules to follow?
Not really, except using DSLR Cameras (see another question). However, we request visitors to respect the sanctity of the place. You can do that by maintaining silence, keeping to the paved road, restricting use of electronic devices, not littering, not plucking flowers or leaves, leaving insects and birds to go about their way, and teaching children not to chase or threaten them either. You might even when you see any litter, pick it up and place it in the nearest bin along the road side, as a show of your environmental care and awareness and as if it were your own home. It is a kind of 'paying it forward' and if we all did that, what a clean and beautiful world we would create. The benefit of silence is also that nature will start to come to you and open all your senses to wonder and joy. There is nothing more delightful and breathtaking than listening out for a rustle in the grass, fallen leaves or branches to find a little creature appear unaware of, nor threaten by your motionless presence. Have you ever wondered also, as you walk, where a particular scent is coming from, and followed your 'nose' to lead your curiosity?
Is there an Information Centre on campus I can visit?
No, however we invite you to explore our website and drop down menus for the campus map, (VISIT>Visit Us) and read up on the history, the aim of the society, its founders and their vision, (ABOUT>) the places of interest that you might like to visit prior to your arrival here. (EXPLORE> Temples and Shrines/Banyan Tree, etc.) There are also many guards on site and usually stationed at cross roads. It is a big property so allow time and wear good shoes. Also don't be alarmed if you get a little lost and transform that experience into an adventure of discovery and you will notice you won't be lost for long. There is always someone about and the paved roads always lead to more people and a most willing helper. There are two entries/exits. One is called the Green Gate near the Library and leads out on to Besant Nagar. The other is the Main Gate with the Adyar Bookshop nearby. The Main Gate leads out to the main road that crosses the Adyar River Bridge and with the Malar Hospital opposite the main gate. If you came by train or bus you would have arrived through the Main Gate.
Can I take photographs and videos?
Yes. We request however that they should be for personal use only. We do not allow pre-wedding, birthday or party photographing. We do not allow to bring professional equipment. If you wish to use photos or videos for publication, then we request you ask prior written permission from the General Manager. But here is a thought if you have a habit of taking photos: Have you ever tried sketching and writing down your thoughts or inspirations as you do so, instead of getting out your camera? This may be a new way of capturing the moment and in a more contemplative, meditative way. Give it a try. You may also want to bring binoculars. You never know what you might spot!
Can I extend my visit beyond visitor hours?
With prior permission, you can do that. Enquire at the administration building for more information.
Are visitors permitted to stay overnight?
Usually, no. Accommodation is limited and application to stay is individually processed but usually reserved only for members attending an event or with a particular purpose to fulfill for the Society onsite. Please check our Events listings for the School of the Wisdom and other courses you may be interested in which may upon notifying us grant you permission to stay for the duration of these.
Is there long term accommodation if I want to volunteer?
The Society depends heavily on the generous offer of its members to assist with the many projects on site. All offers of skills are welcome and are assessed on a needs and individual basis. If there is a longer term accommodation need this too will be assessed for availability at the time.
I want to become a member. What do I have to do?
Check under ABOUT>Membership for further information. We do recommend you attend regular meetings and check to see whether The Freedom of Thought and the society's Three Objects resonate deeply within you. Application for Membership can be made with the International Secretary.
Will my cell phone work on campus?
Yes. The signal may be weak. However we do request you limit your cell phone use and put the ring tone on 'silent' or vibrate mode so as not to disturb other guests or visitors. We encourage you to see your visit to this Oasis, as such, an opportunity for you too to disengage from the outside world, to have special 'recuperative' time for you alone, while here. Cell phones have become a stress factor for many in this age. Allow yourself freedom from this for the duration of your visit.
Is there Internet access?
Yes, limited as with cell phone reception. Hot spots may be utilized but these are reseved for staying guests only at present. This is a work in progress with hopes for better connection in the near future. Yet on the other hand we suggest, unless absolutely urgent, to have a break from internet use, to have a holiday. Many guests, although initially disquietened by their lack of ready access to reliable internet or mobile phone reception, have commented, how refreshing it had been in the end, once they got over the initial 'withdrawals', how 'freeing' the experience had been. They realised how addicted they had become to their devices. So we encourage you to go internet and wifi free for a little while, just as an experiment.
Is there a pharmacy or Doctor on the property?
Yes. If you are staying, there is a resident doctor and a doctor's office within the campus for free consultation. Pharmacies are within walking distance from the main gate. Ayurvedic clinics are also nearby. Please ask, as a proactive measure, where to find these, so you are prepared in case of an emergency. If you are taking special medication, we advise you bring with you a sufficient enough supply to cover you for the period of your stay. We do hope you need not avail yourself of medical care while here.
Can I bring my Dog? Cat? Other Pet?
No, very sorry, even though we care for animals. We already have dogs and cats onsite and prefer not to encourage territorial disputes. We also have a lot of wildlife that we do not want to further disturb or threaten.
Will I need a flashlight?
Illumination at night is limited. Use of flashlights may prove useful for many.
What about insect bites?
Mosquitos are in abundance, alongside numerous other insects. Take usual precautions as you would normally do when staying at an outdoor campsite. Remember they also share our space and they were here long before us! Mosquitos have their timings also: before dusk and dawn, is when they are out and about looking for some juicy arm or a leg. So wear long sleeves, use deet free spray, if walking or sitting at that time of day. Or, if staying on campus, stay indoors, keeping your mosquito screens closed. If really worried, sleep under a mosquito net. If you see spiders, wasps, bees, beetles and ants they all react to fear hormones and if disturbed will bite. You are probably too close to their home. Best is to be respectful and to keep a distance, moving away slowly is the best to not excite or frighten them in the first place. If you are lodging in any of the accommodation venues, and see ants moving in, know, that when rain comes, they move 'up', to protect their eggs and larvae, the future generation of nature's 'cleaners and recyclers'. They also like dark places but will move on, very quickly, when you air or open wardrobes and drawers, should they have decided to make a new home there. They also don't like vibration', so tapping a surface they are on, will soon see them scurrying away. Camphor sprinkled very lightly or sprayed dissolved in water around windows and doors will be a perfect deterrent. A little goes a very long way. They do not like the smell and will move on. Enjoy your discoveries of nature's rhythms and cycles. And you might discover that poisons are not necessary, but making an effort to restore and respect a balanced eco-system, is. We can all start this very moment!
What if I lose something? Is there a lost and found?
We do not have an official 'lost and found' arrangement as misplaced objects are usually found very quickly. Staff and fellow residents might be able to help you locate a missing object. Ask around. Neither do we offer safe keeping of your personal belongings. However we do recommend you take usual precautions, by locking your rooms when you go out, and taking valuables with you at all times.
I live far away. Can I purchase books online?
Certainly. Check under CONNECT>Contact Us for how to order books online. We have many interesting publications and you may also want to subscribe to International Headquarter's monthly magazine, The Theosophist.