Additional Information for Travel to India
Maintaining Good Health:
It is important to be careful with drinking and eating in India, where sanitation can be an issue. At Suddhananda Ashram the food is prepared with filtered water and they provide large bottles from which you can fill your personal water bottles.
When you are out, it is best to drink only bottled water, which is easily available, and eat in one of the many restaurants that cater to foreigners and uses only filtered water. It is acceptable to bring your own water bottle into restaurants. There will be a list of restaurants we have used in the past on the bulletin board.
One way to maintain your health is to begin taking a good Probiotic a month before you leave and continue taking it while there. There are several other products that help keep the intestinal bacteria at bay. Some that have been used with great success are Grapefruit Seed Extract, Colloidal Silver and a herbal tincture called Chaparro Amargosa (not the capsules). Garlic is a natural antimicrobial that also helps protect the digestive system and is available in capsules. These products are available in most health food stores and often cheaper online.
If you get a scratch or cut, you will want to be careful to keep it cleaned and covered. Band aids and triple antibiotic cream are available at the pharmacy in Tiruvannamalai. Mosquitoes are a nuisance at dawn and dusk and you will want to protect yourself. There is a very good bug-repellent cream available to purchase in town. Socks and long sleeve cotton shirts are helpful, especially in the early morning and evening.
What to Pack
Remember that any liquids or creams you take in you carry on much be a maximum of 100 ml or 3.38 oz or less per container and all containers must fit into a quart zip lock bag. Most general items like toothpaste, soap, women’s hygiene products, face cream, etc are readily available in the markets so there is no need to bring a large supply.
You will need a converter to plug in anything electrical you bring from home. They sell them in the markets in Tiruvannamalai.
Mattresses and pillows there are very hard by Western standards. A blow-up camping pad like a thermarest and a small soft pillow are very helpful. Covered one-inch foam pads can be purchased at the markets for around $15-$20. Suddhananda ashram will provide clean sheets and a light blanket, however you may want to bring your own sheets as their’s are not very soft by Western standards. One queen or king sheet folded over can work well.
Towels and wash clothes:
These are not provided at Suddhananda Ashram and you will want to bring them from home.
Pack lightly. Cotton and linen clothing is best for the climate in Tiru and can be purchased inexpensively there. Women are advised to cover their shoulders, legs and ankles. Tops should be long enough to cover your hips. Men have fewer requirements, but shorts are usually not worn in public.
You will need to hand wash your clothes and can buy detergent there. There are clotheslines at the ashram but you may want to bring a few clothes pins. Hangers can come in handy, but again, can be purchased there.
Sandals are the basic foot-wear as you have to remove your shoes before entering all stores and many restaurants. You may want to bring two pair in case something happens to one. Some cheap shoes are available but nothing with support. Hiking boots are not necessary for walking on the mountain, however some folks like to have something more substantial than sandals, like tennis shoes. A small backpack comes in handy.
A sweater or light jacket is recommended as early mornings and evenings can be cool. You may want a meditation shawl or light blanket. There are inexpensive pillows for sale at local shops.
Power outages are a regular occurrence and can last for hours. A hand held flashlight and a headlamp are recommended. Avoid extra weight in your luggage by purchasing extra batteries inexpensively in India.
Phones & Computers:
If you have a smart phone, you can likely get an international plan from your provider, which would allow you to use your current phone number in India. Ask your provider to unlock your phone as you can get a sim card in India for approximately $12USD which gives you a local number with free local and, depending on the plan, international minutes.
You can also purchase an inexpensive Tracfone. For more information on this contact the Registrar Sat at email@example.com.
WiFi access and computers to use are readily available for a small fee in one of the many wifi shops around Tiru. There is no wifi available at the Ashram, but there is at the small village near by.
There are several ATM machines in Tiru where you can withdraw cash in dollars or rupees. One is located across from Ramana Ashram near the market. Also, you will get a good conversion rate from our contacts, Samy and Kumar. Their contact info is listed below:
Samy +91 4175 237268 Bhagavan77@hotmail.com
Kumar +91 4175 firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a link to a currency converter.
Non-resident Indians or foreigners are not allowed to take Indian rupees out of the country and are asked to convert rupees into another foreign currency before boarding flights. There are other items you cannot take out so you may want to refer to this website.
Indian bathrooms do not have toilet paper so it is good to carry packets of tissue with you. Also, carrying hand sanitizer is recommended as there are often no sinks available. The ashram is equipped with Western bathrooms, as are most restaurants.
If you are not staying at Suddhananda Ashram:
You will likely be tired when you arrive and may want to just take it easy for a while so bringing snacks is recommended. There are two markets very close to the Ramana Ashram. One is considered a ‘health food’ store and sells a variety of nuts, oatmeal, juices, etc.
It is recommended that you bring food storage containers with tight lids as most restaurants do not supply to-go containers. Tight lids are a must to keep ants out of your food.
You can buy forks, bowls, plates and other utensils there. A flexible cutting board and sharp knife if is useful if you plan to cook.