The Best Meditation Retreats in Nepal

From yoga centres to remote monasteries, discover the best meditation retreats around Nepal
From yoga centres to remote monasteries, discover the best meditation retreats around Nepal | © Kim Petersen / Alamy Stock Photo
Elen Turner

Contributor

Strong ties to Hindu and Buddhist traditions have made Nepal an ideal destination for meditation retreats. While you may hear about monastery retreats across the country, many are for advanced practitioners like monks-in-training that aren’t open to beginners. Those listed here cater to short-term participants and follow varied traditions or styles of practice for you to experience at one of the best meditation retreats in Nepal.

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1. Kopan Monastery

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The stupa and the fountain in the Park of the Buddhist Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal
© Valery Smirnov / Alamy Stock Photo

Kopan is a popular place in Kathmandu for a spiritual retreat. The monastery – which follows the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism – is home to 360 monks from Nepal and Tibet and sits on a hill above Boudhanath with its attached guesthouse. The monks are affiliated with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition – an organisation devoted to the transmission of Mahayana Buddhism through teaching, meditation and community service. Kopan’s teachings are divided into courses and retreats run throughout the year. The popular Discover Buddhism course – which includes instruction on meditation – is open to curious beginners and the group retreats are designed more for advanced practitioners.

2. Kagyu Institute of Buddhist Studies

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The Kagyu Institute of Buddhist Studies (KIBS) was founded by Shangpa Rinpoche – a monk from Dolpo in western Nepal, near the Tibet border. The courses and retreats held here are intended for serious practitioners of Buddhism and are short or long, personalised to each participants’ needs. Retreats focus on fasting, chanting and Tantric meditation. They’re located in the town of Kirtipur, to the south of central Kathmandu. Accommodation is basic but adequate and the food is good – past participants have praised the high-quality teaching at KIBS.

3. Panditarama Lumbini International Vipassana Meditation Center

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The Lumbini location is special as it is the place where Buddha was born. Vipassana is a form of meditation taught on 10-day retreats – which are free of charge – best known for their requirement that participants remain silent. The centre in Lumbini includes daily talks in English and retreats are offered year-round. Private programmes can also be arranged, with meditation taught in English, German, French and Burmese. Participants are expected to practice for 12-14 hours per day, sleep for 4-6 hours and perform all activities in slow motion. Communication with the outside world is restricted and socialising with other participants is discouraged.

4. Sadhana Yoga Retreat

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A twin room at the Sadhana Yoga Retreat with views out to the mountains
© Sadhana Yoga Retreat / Expedia

This retreat is the oldest in Pokhara and has been operating for the past 20 years. While primarily a yoga retreat centre, Sadhana also offers a two-day, one-night yoga and meditation package that includes hiking around Pokhara, a full-body massage and a steam or mud bath. Visitors can make a booking for any day of the week – making it a good option for those that are short on time and would like to indulge in multiple activities.

5. Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Centre

Buddhist Temple

Like the Kopan Monastery, the Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Center is affiliated with the International Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. They often work with Kopan Monastery and also host teachers from abroad. The centre offers weekly guided meditations, monthly pujas on important Buddhist holidays and monthly Dharma classes in Nepali. They also work with tour company, Dharma Adventures, to provide tours to Buddhist sites around the Kathmandu Valley – such as Patan, Bungamati, Pharping and Namo Buddha. While the centre is located in the Naxal area of Kathmandu, numerous activities take students around the city.

6. Osho Tapoban

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A statue sits in the heart of the gardens of Osho Tapoban
© Osho Tapoban / Expedia

Osho Tapoban is dedicated to those with some familiarity of Osho’s philosophy. Osho – born in 1931 – was an Indian mystic and religious leader said to have attained enlightenment at the age of 21. Although he was a controversial figure during his life, he attracted followers from all over the world and his teachings have been influential to Western New Age thought. There are over 30 Osho ashrams – or communes – around Nepal, with Osho Tapoban in the Nagarjun Hills on the edge of Kathmandu the best-equipped to welcome both locals and foreigners. Osho Tapoban runs seven-day meditation camps and 21-day intensive retreats, as well as other courses on yoga, meditation, psychotherapy and alternative healing. There is an on-site spa – dedicated to Ayurvedic principles – as well as a library containing Osho’s English and Hindi books, a sculpture garden and extensive grounds.

7. Lawudo Gompa

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Lawudo Gompa offers off-the-beaten-path meditation retreats. Unlike every other retreat on this list, this one is quite a trek to get to. The monastery can be reached by flying from Kathmandu to Lukla – home to the world’s most dangerous airport – trekking for about two days along the main Everest Base Camp trail to reach the Sherpa town of Namche Bazaar. and then trekking for another day to reach Thamo, in the Thangme Valley. Lawudo Gompa is about a 90-minute walk above Thamo, at 4,000m (13,123ft) altitude. Casual visitors can drop by while basic retreat rooms are also available for those who want to engage in some long-term meditation practice. Making bookings and payments with the monastery’s Kathmandu office is recommended.

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