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Packing List Silent Retreat. It’s not long now before the highlight of the year begins at Madhukar Enlighten Life: the 3-week silent retreat at the foot of Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai in southern India. Here comes a packing list for your travel arrangements to India for the silent retreat.
This was the first retreat I attended myself many years ago, which was in 2004. I really appreciated the country, the people and also the climate. It has been quite a while and by now I have returned there many times. When I think about what I brought with me on my first trip – I could have saved half of it. Of course, I also missed a lot of things. Fortunately, India is not out of the world and many things I could actually buy there. Some things are even much cheaper in India than in Europe. Because India is not only a fascinating country full of colors and smells – it is also cheaper than in Europe. For a packing list for the trip and for the retreat I would have been very grateful at that time. So here is your checklist for the trip.
What is in your suitcase for the silent retreat in India?
In a silent retreat, yes, there are very specific conditions that also require very specific preparations. Many people I tell that I will be silent for three weeks can’t even imagine sitting still for a short time. But the silence is not in the suitcase. To pack the right one, it is important to know what the conditions are like there.
But not only that – the needs of individual participants are quite different. Some I have seen arrive with their own set of mattresses. They said they have back pain and can only lie like that. Others, however, arrive with a small backpack that they carried on the plane as hand luggage. Of course, that can only be a man. Because men have it easy in India – they just wear a lunghi – of course only if they want to. This is a white or orange cloth that they wrap around their loins. As a man, all you need is a razor, a towel and a bar of soap – and you’re all set. Of course, this is the minimal version. Therefore, see what fits for you from the list. You certainly don’t need everything, but I like to remind you of the most popular and useful things here.
By the way, recently I had asked this question in the Madhukar Enlighten Life community on Facebook (click):
I am writing a blog article with a packing list for the silent retreat in India. And to make sure it’s not just my experience, I’m asking for your help.
What do you absolutely need in your suitcase when you pack for three weeks of silence in Tiru? I know that there are participants who arrive with hand luggage only – and others come with suitcase and hand luggage or even book additional luggage.
I would be happy if you write me what has worked for you.
What do you tell new participants to be sure to pack? And what does your luggage look like?
And I’ve integrated the answers into the packing list. For example, there was this enthusiastic comment.
“That’s a great question, dear Shivani 😍 and raises feelings of anticipation.”
Here comes your packing list for the silent retreat
Yes exactly – and I just realize that I can feel my and also your anticipation for this retreat as I write these lines. What a concentrated joy. But now for the list:
Personal items for the retreat
To some, these items mean something, they carry them everywhere. To others, they have no meaning.
- Present for Guruji 😄❤️
- Books from the master lineage
- Nice postcards for questions I may want to ask in satsang.
- Personal items, such as a picture of the masters.
- A personal mala.
Money and finances
Almost nothing works on a trip without money. Therefore, remember to activate your credit card or your bank card for abroad. I already had to stand there and not get any money at the ATM. And there you have the answer to where you can get money. There are ATMs – or you can get it from your credit card in the cab companies. The Indian currency is called Rupee and you are not allowed to import or export the currency. So bring only money in your own currency or your cards.
- Credit card
- Bank card (EC card)
- Wallet with secret compartment
- RFID blocker for the cards
- Emergency phone numbers of the bank
- Wallet for foreign currency
In Tiruvannamalai, there is almost everything you might need or forget in terms of hygiene items. So get inspired what you prefer to bring with you and what you prefer to get locally beforehand. Besides your personal care products, sunscreen, shaving stuff and of course the toothbrush stuff should be in your bag.
- Hairbrush / comb
- Shower chunks or shower gel
- ♀ Menstrual cup
- Hair tie
- Hand cream
- Contact lenses + accessories
- Toilet bag / wash bag
- Chapstick / lip balm
- Nail care set incl. tweezers
- Ear sticks, reusable
- Shaver for travel
- ♀ Make-up utensils / make-up removal wipes
- ♀ Tampons / feminine hygiene articles
- Detergent for the trip
- Toothbrush + toothpaste for the trip
Yoga in the silent retreat
During the retreat it is summer in India, it is warm. At night it can get quite chilly – even in the morning hours. Warmer clothes are useful even in air-conditioned rooms. You will only need swimwear if you spend a few more days at the sea – we are inland. Think especially of light tops, pants, skirts, dresses and headgear.
- White and orange clothes
- Fleece sweater/jacket
- Thin sweater if it is cool in the morning
- Belt (light, with money pocket)
- A change of underpants
- Compression socks for the flight
- Cap / hat / sun hat
- Rain jacket / rain cape
- sarong / pareo / lunghi
- Pajamas / Pyjamas
- Bequme yoga clothes
Medicines / Pharmacy
Of course there are pharmacies in India. During the retreat, you may be glad to have a few items from your first-aid kit right at hand. Most important are mosquito repellent, band-aids, diarrhea tablets and anti-blister patches.
- Diarrhea tablets
- First aid kit
- Fever tablets
- Mosquito repellent / mosquito spray
- insect bite healer
- personal medicines
- painkillers (headache)
- hand disinfection
- if necessary proof of vaccination/ proof of recovery
- Vaccination certificate
- FFP2 mask
Papers & Documents
You need first of all a visa, your passport and if you stay longer remember your international driver’s license.
- Address list for postcards
- International health insurance (proof)
- Driver’s license (inter / national)
- Hotel/hostel documents
- Case (waterproof) for travel documents
- Vaccination card / allergy passport if necessary
- Health insurance card
- Passport cover
- Visa (in paper form or as eVisa via the site of the Indian embassy)
- Booking of the cab from the airport to Tiruvannamalai
- Train ticket / Bahncard / Air ticket
Backpacks & Bags
If you are a backpacker traveling from the airport to Tiru by bus, a large trekking backpack is ideal to put a smaller daypack in. However, if you are picked up by cab, you can comfortably pack everything in your suitcase or a travel bag.
- Dry Bag / Packing Bag (waterproof)
- Packing cubes / garment bags
- Rain cover for backpack
- Protective cover for electronics
- Zip bag for hand luggage
Comfortable shoes that you can wear for the hike, the pradakshina, or while driving to the ashram are a must. You should also think of bathing slippers or flip flops. Trekking sandals are also not a mistake.
- Flip flops / slippers / bathing slippers
- Shoes (sneakers or sneakers)
- Trekking sandals
If you’re sleeping in a dormitory, you’ll be grateful to have your earplugs with you in case of snoring roommates. Also, small padlocks for the door in hotels are always recommended. Sleeping goggles can be helpful on the flight, but are also often given out for free by the airlines. Sewing kit is always good, as well as a small dictionary if you do not speak English. Otherwise, the communication also works with hands and feet. A quick-drying travel towel is also very handy. In the cheap hostels and guesthouses in India you usually have bedding, which consists of a linen sheet. If you prefer to sleep in your own sleeping bag, a hut sleeping bag is usually sufficient.
- Inflatable pillow or soft pillow
- Glasses / contact lenses + case
- Sunglasses 🥰😎
- Lightweight fleece blanket
- Yoga mat
- Small kettle
- Books of the master lineage (Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Poonjaji, Sri Madhukarji)
- Adhesive tape (to tape up holes in mosquito net)
- Luggage tag
- 2-3 light clothes hangers
- small travel iron
- alarm clock (remember: you are handing in your cell phone)
- mosquito net
- sewing kit
- Oropax / earplugs against snoring
- 1 to 2 travel towels (quick drying)
- Writing utensils (pen and paper)
- Sleeping glasses
- Pair of clothespins
- Safety pins
- Pocket knife
- A few hooks to hang up a mosquito net
- Headlamp / flashlight + batteries
- Padlock for the suitcase or the door in the guest house
- Clothesline, flexible + clips
- Water bottle, foldable or metal
- Silk hut sleeping bag/inlet
Please remember: at the retreat you will turn in all technical equipment. Computers, cell phones and other technical devices will be kept by the retreat organizers – each participant agrees to Digital Detox by registering. During the retreat you do not need to think about technical devices – unless you have been asked to do so because you have a task.
If you are staying longer in India, you will probably need your tech gear that you use at home, i.e. laptop, mp3 player, charging cable, etc. You may also want to share photos with others and take an external hard drive or SD card for that as well.
- Digital camera incl. battery/tripod
- Cell phone incl. charging cable
- Cell phone case, waterproof
- Chargers for electronics
- SD card
Have a good trip “śubha yātrā” शुभ यात्रा!
And if you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that here (click).
Do you travel for the first time to India? Maybe this could also be helpful to you?
What is a pradakshina around the Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai?
Travel to India – health advice for participating in a retreat
What is your motivation to be in a 3-week silent retreat in India?