Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

~ His Holiness Dalai Lama

Travel is a very ancient concept and in fact common to all ancient cultures. In the early days of social living, travel was done to exchange notes on cultural progress a society was making, and to evaluate trade possibilities. And, if we stretch our thoughts about travel a bit further, more on an existential level, then we will all agree that life itself is a journey. 

In Hinduism, which has as many as six major philosophical schools, one thing common to all is that they believe the soul is an imperishable entity that is constantly travelling, taking various forms. While death is interpreted as a kind of rest; life is about being awake, being alive, living it to the fullest to evolve the inner self by enriching our journey with meaningful spiritual experiences that can take us to a state of permanence considered as the ultimate rest. So to achieve this, Hinduism has concepts of travels called yātrā and tīrtha that were often meant to be taken to brave Nature (our own nature too), to gain perspective on our existence, its purpose and beauty.

But, today in the digital world, our modern sensibilities and competitive environments dictate a certain lifestyle forcing a virtual reality on us that certainly has deprived us, in want of time, an existential quest that seeks permanence. In not giving the inner self what it seeks, we undergo sudden bouts of loneliness or an unexplainable longing for something unknown that keeps us in a constant state of unrest. Although we make an effort to beat these feelings, by cutting-off from our normal, using travel to escape to an exotic location with unusual adventures; the thrills from such adventures don’t last. The experiences of thrills being hedonic is but temporary and so we continue to feel an emptiness. If not for the emptiness, we return exhausted from a holiday with the state of unrest almost immediately also returning?

Oftentimes, to address the unrest, we sign up for yoga retreats and sessions; and, while practice in studios and exotic locations may reap benefits by improving our flexibility and general health, deep down, the void still exists. This unknown variable is the one that makes it difficult for us to meditate for 5 mins with our eyes closed, focusing on nothing: keeping our spine straight in the simplest cross-legged seated position without moving, without feeling pins and needles. 

Although some might question the discipline or the facilitator; when in fact, it is neither.  What is missing in our life is a vision: a higher perception that will change our outward gaze to build an insight to create something original.  After all, humans are inherently creative beings who have an urge and desire to leave a legacy behind, but are stuck not being able to realise their true potential.

Difference between ‘looking’, ‘seeing’ and ‘perceiving’

Seeing and perceiving requires enormous training for developing insights and foresights to demystify ancient wisdom in the forms of beauty, and breathe freshness to the disciplines we have adapted to practice. For eg., Although in the modern ages the digital technology contains the Vedic literature, the texts that are uploaded or even translated will still need a person from the oral traditions to interpret them accurately.  A person belonging to an oral tradition who has dedicated the years of their life to the rigours of the traditions will be able to interpret the wisdom and culture without diluting their layered structures soaked in hidden truths. A mental note to be recognised is: just as how a non-banker will struggle to manipulate numbers in accounting; or, how a non-engineer cannot manipulate tools like the way engineers do; a non-traditional professional will not be able to demystify the expressions of traditions: be it skill, art or wisdom that is spread across India as sacred destinations and temple forms. It takes a person from within the tradition to manipulate it, share something from it that will translate as an experience (anubhuti: that emerges from somebody else’s knowledge). Such traditional professionals in fact are the secondary source that often academicians use to gather data for their studies. And although India’s mediaeval society, cultural diversity, art, and tribal communities are studied as sociology, anthropology and history, even the academicians are limited to only recording traditions, and cannot translate it as an experience for an eager culture enthusiast. In fact, within the oral traditions, training for those who want to see and perceive, may not necessarily be the same as for those who want to demystify it for others.

Jvala in demystifying space and form

It is important at this juncture to understand that demystifying a wisdom truth means revealing it to another person. And, this revelation is considered a very sacred process where the uninitiated has shown a willingness to remain open-minded, allowing the initiated expert/master to shape their sensibilities which then upgrades their perception to grasp the nuances hidden in plain sight on their own. This process is similar to how traditional Indic sculptors worked: they remove the dust from the stone to let the Form shine. Thus, interpreting wisdom or a culture is not the same as reading a translation. Certainly Indian wisdom is complex, but it is also possible for anybody to experience it in different ways. Hence, Jvala is conceived as experiential paths offering specifically (only) the experience of sublime that can fill the void created over life times.

To start with, Jvala is designed as slow travel to off-beat travel destinations in India. As popular as ‘slow travel’ is today in promoting sustainable tourism and ecotourism, Jvala will tweak slow travel to make a traveller connect to the ‘wisdom’ a land, its people, its forms and culture has to offer. Culture, which is like a meta-model that powers many algorithms, is then demystified by trained experts of Jvala playing as culture hosts.

Materialism, being tangible, is instinctively wired in all of us. Therefore adventure trips and experiences of it are hedonic that may require the preparedness on perhaps only the physical. Whereas, to experience a sublime, it will be required for us to turn ourselves a little inward. Since we cannot graze the grass on the other side by being a black sheep, it’s important wherever necessary to blend in as the main focus of slow travel is for us to an immersive experience from the simplicity of the land and its people to know more about India’s heritage. Hence, travelling slower would also require us to relook at our identities related to our birth, profession and social status. It would require openness to participate in talks, discussions, and cultural activities planned by the host. Without doubt, slow travel will urge us to reassess a consumerist mentality that is all pervasive today. In this way, one learns to appreciate the nuances of the region’s flavours including to absorb the regional and the classical elements in an Indic form that contributes to the unity and diversity. Thus, the underlying current of Jvala’s paths are for travellers to taste and absorb the forms and energy of a given region, learning to reflect on higher levels of abstractions such as the true nature of: Nature, Beauty and Reality.

The paths of Jvala are hence curated; where, a destination is already recognised: either as a sacred ford or as a heritage site by a reputed body such as UNESCO. In connecting the initiated seeker with the uninitiated intellectuals, what Jvala achieves to do is to create a conducive atmosphere where professionals engage, interact at high level, sparking off elevated conversations, adding to the sublime. This will be in tune with Sri Aurobindo, commenting on the Indian aesthetic theory, where he has said that among the various ways of expressing or experiencing Beauty, those which give rise to a sublime showcase an intellect that is highly evolved. When such a sublime beauty is integrated and absorbed into our life as culture, then that culture would contribute to also meaningful progress. 

The objective of Jvala is also to make intellectuals sensitive to form and space so that innovation in their specialised field can also withstand the test of time without harming the ecosystem. For eg. the energy pulsating in the Shivalik ranges is different from the energy pulsating in the foothills of Thiruvannamalai. The ability to differentiate subtle energies in geographical spaces will help an engineer to better provide an infrastructure suitable to that region. Another example is: if a trader knew the nuances of Kanchipuram sarees and Tribhuvanam sarees including what makes the same product distinct as two separate brands, then the trader will know how to keep both the weaving traditions alive for several more decades. This kind of invention and collaboration is already happening in the art world: Recently, the Grammy award winner Ricky Kej featured the Chola bronze sculptures for the song, the Art of Devotion. But as connoisseurs of music and art, only a Jvala traveller will know why Ricky Kej decided to feature the Chola bronze among many other sculptural traditions existing in India and other parts of the world. With time, as Jvala’s members will grow to be a community around the world, we trust they will play transformational roles in society, making relevant contributions to humanity.

To sum up, knowing to grasp and differentiate the subtle, learning to experience a sublime will be equal to savouring a well distilled whiskey or well aged wine. Jvala will be suitable for intellectuals, travel enthusiasts, connoisseurs and seekers who want to catch Beauty’s glance and see how Her feet dance. A slow travel with Jvala is meant to buzz like a bee, resonating a hum that will quench the existential thirst and will be more fulfilling than many thrills and travels around the world.


Get in touch


    Get in touch


      Sacred Spaces Retreat: Stillness of a Lake

      “O! Please come! Dance in my heart; hurt not your feet on the rocky slopes of Himalayas.” ~Adi Shankara
      Jvala is an organisation that curates experiences of sublime. It is built around Indic knowledge systems like yoga, Indian arts, heritage and history to promote the intangible cultural heritage of India. Jvala will be collaborating with the yoga studio: Tattva to conduct Yoga retreats for adults at various sacred destinations within India.
      Details of the Chidambaram yoga retreat
        Duration: 4 days 3 nights    Start/End Point : Chennai
        Participants - Yoga practitioners  Age - Between 18-45 years
        Date - Jan 25-28 2024   Destination: Tharangambadi
      Accommodation and Destination for retreat
      Tharangambadi is one of the rare attractions in Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel coast, Tharangambadi is one of the finest private beaches and a perfect weekend getaway for unwinding. ‘Tharangambadi’, which literally means “the land of swinging waves”, whispers stories of the land and sweet lullabies of the ocean. It poses as the perfect place with breathtaking views of the horizon during Sun rise. The historical significance and temple heritage in and around Tharangambadi make it a perfect slow travel destination.

      Neemrana’s Bungalow on the Beach is a 17th Century Danish structure renovated to be one of the finest boutique resorts in Tamil Nadu. The architecture and its location makes it classy and apt for conducting thematic yoga on ākāśa.
      Day 1
      Start from Chennai at 8:00am (brunch on the way); Reach Tharangambadi - Neemrana property Bunglow in the Beach 1pm for lunch; 4pm High Tea followed by Orientation; Enjoy Sunset by the Beach; Games; Dinner 8pm
      Day 2
      Yoga (asana meditative practice) 6:30-8am; Breakfast 9:00 am; Talk - Significance of Lotus; 10-12am; High tea 3-4pm; Sightseeing - Sirkazhi temple (Friday special darshan), Tharangambadi; Dinner 8pm
      Day 3
      Yoga 6:30-8am; Breakfast 9:00 am; Discussion and Talk - Introduction to Yogic Anatomy: Patanjali’s Mind & Body Science 10-12am; High Tea 4-5pm; Sightseeing - Poompuhar; Dinner 8pm
      Day 4
      Yoga 6:30-8am; Breakfast 9:00 am; Discussion and Talk - Topic: Cosmic Dance of Siva, a brief overview 10-12am; High Tea 4-5pm; Sightseeing - Tharangambadi local sight-seeing; Dinner 8pm
      Day 5
      Yoga 6:30-8am (Special Meditation for Chidambaram); Brunch 10:00am; Darshan at Chidambaram Temple; Return to Chennai



      Pallava Passion: Cultural heritage tour

      “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
      ~Karunanidhi (Late CM, TN)
      Details of the retreat
        Duration: 6 (+6) hours   Purpose: South Indian Temple Art appreciation
        Participants: Art enthusiasts & connoisseurs  Destinations: Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram
        Date: Dec 3, 10; Dec 17, 24    Group Size: Min 10- Max 20 registrations only
      Itinerary for Mahabalipuram
      • Tour starts at Dakshinachitra, Chennai
      • Talk: Significance of Rock-cut art; Contributions of Pallava dynasty to Rock-cut art
      • Break for a classic South Indian Breakfast
      • Proceed to Mahabalipuram
      • 3 hours Heritage Walk of the Dravidian rock-cut cave temples at Mahabalipuram
      • 3 Stages of mature Dravidian rock-cut caves
      • Speciality of Pancha Rathas in Dravidian temple art
      • Tour Ends at Egmore Museum/ Concert hall
      Itinerary for Kanchipuram
      • Tour starts at OMR, Chennai
      • Talk: Obsessions of pan-Indian artisans: Iconography and Significance of Mahishasura Mardini and Varaha
      • Break for a classic South Indian Breakfast
      • Proceed to Kanchipuram
      • 3 hours Heritage Walk at Kanchipuram heritage sites
      • One early Pallava Rock-cut Cave
      • 2 Must-see structural temples of Pallava-s
      • Interact with Kanchipuram silk weavers
      • Tour Ends at Egmore Museum/ Concert hall
      Cost: INR 5500/day trip*
      *Conditions Apply. Price is indicative and calculated for a Group of 10 based on a specific venue
      • Breakfast, Refreshments - Tender Coconut Water, Buttermilk
      • Remuneration of Culture host
      • Guided Tour at Heritage sites
      • Entry fee at Heritage sites
      • Logistic from Start and End point of Tour
      Does not Include:
      • Lunch
      • Other temples/ structures at the destination
      • Recreational sport at the destination
      • Concert entry fee