This past weekend, my family was looking to make a trip to the outlet mall in Gilroy, CA. Some friends of ours had talked about an interesting Hindu temple called Sankat Mochan temple in the area and my parents were immediately interested in making a trip to the temple.
The trip itself requires a little bit of planning. Visitors to the temple have to register themselves and their car as parking is limited in the facility. More information on that can be found here. There is no fee. Just a few minutes to sign up the visitor count and car information.
We started off on a warm Saturday morning and soon found ourselves climbing the Santa Cruz mountains. The drive to mount Madonna is very picturesque. There are a bunch of nurseries and wineries on the base of the mountain which can be combined to make it a “Sin and cleanse” kind of trip. We entered the Mount Madonna county park borders soon after.
The Mount Madonna retreat is more than just a temple. It bills itself as a healing center, yoga school and a conference center. In reality, it is a large campus with a school, yoga center, wellness center and the temple. Baba Hari Dass is the founding father of the organization. We had a chance to meet this Silent Monk. I had no prior information about him but it is claimed that he hasn’t spoken since 1952. We had a chance to meet him for a few minutes. He was a genial old man who bowled my toddler over with a high five and a cuddly toy. He uses pen and paper to communicate with everyone.
The campus is spectacular set amidst towering redwood trees and the mountains. The temple is simple yet alluring. The location is calm and serene with incessant bird sounds. There is a pleasant cafe on campus called Anjaneya’s World Cafe that serves Indian snacks and tea along some other finger foods. There is also a bookstore with texts primarily on holistic living and spirituality called Ocean View Books. The campus boasts a fantastic meditation area right under the redwoods that is worth a visit in itself.
Overall, the Mount Madonna Center is worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood. It is a quiet place to pause, ponder and refresh.