We started the day with a long lie in as we were both really tired from yesterday! We left the flat at about one to get some lunch nearby, and went to InItalia which is a new pizza and pasta place. Sellappan went for pasta and I had a pizza with pinapple, mint and basil. The base was nice and crispy and the topping combination worked really well. There was a nice atmosphere and the staff were all very energetic and smiley, and encouraged us to write reviews of our experience on a post-it and stick it on their window display. We were also encouraged to leave reviews online – they’re working really hard to make the place well-known.
After lunch we popped back to the flat to prepare four our day trip to Pyramid Valley and the Art of Living. Mohan and Kowshalya had decided to join us for the trip, and we took a taxi. We started at Pyramid Valley which was the furthest away of the two. We passed through smaller towns and villages on the way, and finally arrived around three o’clock. The pyramid itself is a new build, and is the largest purpose-built meditation pyramid in the world with a capacity of about 5000. The pyramid is set in grounds which are still under construction, but there are gardens and a lake and some statues of meditating figures around.
The pyramid itself is named Maitreya-Buddha Pyramid, and is a new age meditation and science centre. The founder of this movement is Brahmarshi Patriji, who became enlightened in 1979 while he was still working his regular job in a fertiliser company. He left this job in 1992 to devote his time to enlightening as many people as possible.
There was an awning set up where people could leave their shoes, so we left ours and climbed the hot stairs to enter the pyramid. We were given a leaflet about meditation and were directed to the briefing room where a gentleman told us about the meditation process and answered any questions the group had. To go to the meditation area you had to go up a short flight of stairs and through a curtain. This room took up the whole of the pyramid, with air conditioners and fans to blow air and keep the place cool. The process for meditation was to close your eyes, cross your hands and legs and relax. There were no music, chanting or breathing patterns encouraged (in fact, this was strongly discouraged!) Nevertheless, when we got inside we discovered that Brahmarshi himself was there, playing 10-30 second bursts on his haunting flute. The sound echoed around the huge, silent hall.
After a while we climbed the spiral staircase to the platform above the main area. This was the area with the most intense energy in the pyramid, according to the brief. I’m sorry to report that I didn’t receive any cosmic energy as my mind was too full of extraneous thoughts. When we came down we exited via a different route, where there was a display about the building of the pyramid and a library and shop. You could buy small pyramids made from crystal, as well is pyramids to hang up, and ones to wear on your head to focus the cosmic energy. There were also lots of leaflets, books and DVDs about pyramid energy and meditation, alongside other spiritual topics, in as many different languages as you can imagine. Many of the books featured Brahmarshi, solemnly looking out from the cover.
We took a short walk through the grounds, over a bamboo bridge and around to a cafeteria which had a view back towards the pyramid. After a quick drink we went back to the taxi and drove back towards Bangalore and the Art of Living.
The Art of Living was much more packed, and as we were arriving the sun was starting to set. There were lots and lots of people coming away from the temple itself, which was set near a lake. There was a small amphitheatre facing the entrance of the temple, which was set up for people to give speeches or performances with the temple as a background. Along the side of the road approaching the temple there were huge queues at food stands. People were getting little pots of food served from huge stainless steel containers. Whatever it was it was certainly popular.
We climbed up the hill to the amphitheatre, back down through it and headed towards the temple. It is a fairly modern build and appears to have been based on a lotus flower or something similar. It is circular with rows and rows of white ‘petals’ creating the roof all the way up to a dome on top. We took off our shoes and climbed the shallow steps to the top, where there was a big polished bronze bull reclining with its ear sticking out. Apparently if you whisper your wish into the bull’s ear it will come true. Lots of people were pausing to touch the bull and whisper to it.
Then temple seemed to be filling up, so we went inside to the main hall which was all open and had rows of shallow steps to sit on, encircling a small stage. The dome was supported by huge columns which were decorated with symbols from different world religions. We took some big square cushions to sit on, but were quickly told to put them back, so we did. The presentation was a ten minute slideshow about organic farming and irrigation methods, and showed a bunch of volunteers transforming a patch of ground into a food-producing field, and it was narrated by the man whom had introduced the show. He spoke in English throughout and received many rounds of applause as the transformation took place. At the end he read out his mobile number to the assembled crowd and asked people to get in touch if they wanted to learn more. You could also sign up and give 500 rupees (£5) to enrol in his course.
We sat for a little while longer before deciding that there probably wasn’t going to be any more performances that day. We came back out and walked around the pyramid before coming back down the step, taking all of our photos again as the temple was all lit up, with strips of lights decorating every edge.
We headed back to the taxi past the Divine Shop and went into a supermarket I got a pair of flip flops and we all had some fruit gel bars which were mango flavour. They were the texture of the orangy bit in Jaffa cakes.
Once the taxi had dropped us back we went over to Mohan and Kowshalya’s place, where we had food with Naveen and Ashwini. Kowshalya had prepared rice flour dumplings called idly and dosa, which are very similar to crêpes but definitely savoury. This was accompanied by gravies and pickles and was very tasty. Sellappan had also picked up a tin of rasa gulla at the supermarket, which I thought were going to be lychees but they were actually soft dumplings drenched in a heavy rose scented syrup. They were incredibly sweet and perfumed, and let out another wave of syrup when you bit into them.
After a hard day’s touring we got some sleep.