Oldest Meditation Center in the World

Oldest Meditation Center in the World

Meditation is one of the best ways to connect with yourself. It is a commonly used practice all over the world, with many people choosing mindfulness as a way to stay connected to their spirituality and themselves.

While many enjoy meditating at home, others prefer going to meditation centers. In this article, we’ll look more closely at some of the oldest meditation centers around the world. Let’s dive right in!

7. Global Vipassana Pagoda

Year of opening: 2008
Location: Gorai Village, Borivali West, Mumbai
Founder: Unknown

Global Vipassana PagodaPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Aside from being one of the oldest meditation centers in the world, the Global Vipassana Pagoda is the world’s largest meditation center as well. It can seat over 8,000 people, and was built to encourage peace and harmony among people.

This pagoda was built to honor Sayagyi U Ba Khin, who was the Accountant-General of Independent Burma. He was also a Vipassana teacher. One of the most interesting things about this pagoda is that its funding came entirely from public donations.

Did you know?

The center of this pagoda does not have any supporting pillars, and its inside is completely hollow.

6. Isha Foundation

Year of opening: 1992
Location: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
Founder: Jaggi Vasudev

Isha FoundationPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Isha Foundation was founded by Jaggi Vasudev, or as he is more commonly known, Sadhguru. Although this organization is better known for the yoga courses and retreats it offers, it is also has a meditation center. Unlike other centers around the world, this one does not come from a specific lineage of yoga, but rather has a customized system of its own.

It was founded in 1992, and offers various programs, gatherings, and courses. One of the most interesting things about this center is that it has various environmental and social initiatives. Some of these include the Action for Rural Rejuvenation program, the Rally for Rivers campaign, and the Cauvery Calling project.

Did you know?

The Isha Foundation is located in the Velliangiri Mountains, which is near the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

5. Suan Mokkh In­ter­na­tion­al Dharma Her­mitage

Year of opening: 1986
Location: Chaiya District, Surat Thani, Thailand
Founder: Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu

Suan Mokkh In­ter­na­tion­al Dharma Her­mitagePhoto Source: Suanmokkh IDG

The Suan Mokkh In­ter­na­tion­al Dharma Her­mitage is one of the most famous meditation centers in the world. This center offers silent meditation retreats, usually ten days long. It was founded by Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu, who was a Thai Buddhist monk. He believed in emulating Gautama Buddha’s core teachings and lived a simple life.

The retreats offered at the Suan Mokkh In­ter­na­tion­al Dharma Her­mitage aim to separate its students from their daily activities and technology. When students begin the retreat, they are required to give up their electronics, including their cell phones, to allow themselves to full focus on the retreat.

Did you know?

The primary meditation technique that is taught at Suan Mokh International Dharma Heritage is mindfulness with breathing.

4. Kripalu Center

Year of opening: 1983
Location: Stockbridge, Massachusetts, United States of America
Founder: Amrit Desai

Kripalu CenterPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Kripalu Center, also called The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, is a wellness non-profit organization that is located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It has yoga and health retreats, and is close to Lake Mahkeenac. Amrit Desai is this center’s founder. He first started teaching yoga when he moved to Philadelphia in the early 1960s, and later went on to start a yoga society in 1966, in Pennsylvania.

Desai then went on to establish a yoga center in Sumneytown, Pennsylvania; it was later renamed the Kripalu Yoga Fellowship. This residential center taught students about Swami Kripalvananda’s practices and teachings, and trained people to become yoga teachers. As time went on, Desai and his organization continued to expand and move to bigger facilities, which led to the Kripalu Center becoming what it is today.

Did you know?

The Kripalu Center’s facility was once a juniorate seminary and Jesuit novitiate, and was originally built in 1957.

3. Dhamma Giri

Year of opening: 1976
Location: Igatpuri, Maharashtra, India
Founder: Sri Satyanarayan Goenka (S.N. Goenka)

Dhamma GiriPhoto Source: Vridhamma

Dhamma Giri was founded by Sri Satyanarayan Goenka, who is also known as S. N. Goenka. He was Indian by birth, but grew up in Myanmar. He was first introduced to yoga and meditation after searching for a cure for the debilitating migraines he often suffered from as a young man. He learned from Sayagyi U Ba Khin, who took him on as a student, and later provided him with the training he needed to teach yoga.

After Ba Khin died, Goenka started his own business teaching yoga, and later opened Dhamma Giri in 1976. He taught meditation for the next six years, but later began to train teachers. In the years that have since followed, Goenka’s meditation center offers retreats and courses to interested students.

Did you know?

Dhamma Giri is one of the largest meditation centres in the world, with thousands of students visiting the centre annually. It also has over 400 individual meditation cells.

2. Insight Meditation Society

Year of opening: 1976
Location: Barre, Massachusetts, United States of America
Founder: Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield

Insight Meditation SocietyPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

 The Insight Meditation Society was founded by Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg. It’s primary focus on yoga and meditation stems from the Theravada Tradition. This mediation centers has two facilities, both of which teach vipassana.

After teaching at various places around the world, Goldstein, Kornfield, and Salzberg decided to start their own dedicated facility and bought their first property in 1975, and opened it the following year.

Did you know? 

The Insight Meditation Society has hosted many Buddhist masters over the years, including HIs Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, and even His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa.

1. Tushita Meditation Centre

Year of opening: 1972
Location: Dharamkot, Himachal Pradesh, India
Founder: Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Tushita Meditation CentrePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tushita Meditation Centre is located in a village called Dharamkot, in Himachal Pradesh. One of the most interesting things about this center is that it is a place for people to go and learn about Buddhism, as well as just meditate.

This center was opened in 1972 by Lama Thubten Yeshe, and his student, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. They had opened a monastery called Kopan Monastery a few years prior, and after a lot of demand, they opened a second monastery. This was how Tushita was born! This meditation center is located in an old colonial house, and is close to the town of McLeod Ganj.

Did you know?

Tushita Meditation Centre has online classes for students who are unable to travel to Himachal Pradesh.


As we mentioned in the introduction, meditation is one of the best and most effective ways to connect with yourself and achieve a state of calmness. In this article, we took you through a list of some of the oldest meditation centers in the world. While many of these are located in India, some of them are located in other parts of the world. We encourage you to check them out, and try meditating at home!

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