The Pilgrim’s Guide

A quick guide to making the most of your pilgrimage.

FAQ'S

  • It’s really important that you plan your pilgrimage around our puja times, as the Lord Murugan Temple and Maha Shakti Temple are only open at certain times of day.
  • Full moon weekends and summer festivals are the high points of our year, but also our busiest.
  • Avoid stress by giving yourself plenty of time to come here.
  • As you approach the Ashram, the roads become very narrow and winding, so at busy times (particularly weekends in the summer) there can be significant traffic delays.
  • Carmarthen is our nearest transport hub, to which coaches and trains run daily.
  • To travel between Carmarthen and Skanda Vale, we recommend you take a taxi.
  • More information on travelling by public transport or car-share is available here.
  • Yes, but you must pre-book at least two weeks in advance.
  • We are not a tourist attraction – we don’t accept bookings from coach groups that wish to include Skanda Vale as part of a local sight-seeing tour.
  • We are unable to provide overnight accommodation for coach groups.
  • Yes. All three temples at Skanda Vale have level-access entrances for wheelchairs.
  • We have toilet facilities suitable for people with mobility issues near the Lord Murugan Temple and Maha Shakti Temple.
  • We have dedicated Ashram accommodation for pilgrims with disabilities – please let us know when you make your retreat booking so we can plan accordingly.
  • We offer a free minibus transport service to and from the Maha Shakti Temple for elderly or disabled pilgrims, leaving from the front gate at 6am and 5.30pm each day.

Yes, but with some restrictions to avoid children disturbing the devotions:

  • In the Lord Murugan Temple, please sit with babies and young children at the back of the temple. 
  • In the Maha Shakti Temple, children under the age of 7 must wait with a guardian outside on the terrace. You can all come in for darshan at the end of the puja.
  • There are no seating restrictions in the Sri Ranganatha Temple, but if your children get restless, please take them outside until they calm down. 

Please do not enter the Lord Murugan and Maha Shakti temples if you:

  • Have eaten meat, fish or poultry in the last three days.
  • Are a lady having a menstrual cycle.
  • Have had physical contact with the dead body of a person or animal in the last five days.
  • If any of these apply, please attend the puja from the back of the Lord Murugan Temple or from the terrace of the Maha Shakti Temple and we will bring aarti and prasadam to you.
  • If you would like to know more about these restrictions please don’t hesitate to ask one of the monks or nuns when you arrive.
  • Skanda Vale is an outdoors place and is often very cold and wet.
  • Please wear warm outdoor clothing, with sensible shoes for walking on uneven (often muddy) ground.
  • Your temple clothing should be clean and modest – no shorts, sleeveless shirts, short skirts or low-cut shirts in the temples.
  • We ask pilgrims not to bring leather jackets, belts or handbags into the temples.
  • We never make recommendations on what devotees offer in the temples. It is an expression of love between you and God, so you are welcome to offer anything you like (except non-vegetarian food items).
  • If you would like to make offerings of fruit and vegetables please remove all packaging, wash them and present them nicely on the trays provided outside the temples.
  • If you would like to offer flowers, please remove the wrappers and arrange them in a vase of water. Vases are available outside each temple.
  • Any other groceries should be taken out of carrier bags and presented nicely on the offering trays.
  • We will bring your offerings into the temple near the end of the puja to be blessed.
  • All our temple services, meals and Ashram accommodation are offered completely free of charge.
  • The Ashram is run entirely on anonymous voluntary donations – we never ask for anything.
  • If you would like to donate money then you are very welcome, but it must be done so anonymously. 
  • Cash offerings should be placed in the yellow metal donation boxes outside each of the temples. Please do not offer cash in the temple itself, or to any member of the resident community.
  • We are a registered charity, so please Gift Aid your donations – forms are available at the donation boxes.
  • We now have contactless donation terminals outside the temples, so you can donate using your phone or bank card.
  • You can also donate online.
  • Our approach is to give everyone equal access to the temples, so we do not offer privileged access in exchange for money. 
  • If you have a specific issue you would like help with, please just ask us – we’re always happy to discuss anything that’s troubling you and offer blessings in the temple.
  • You can also make a prayer request at any time.
  • There is no charge for meals at Skanda Vale, but food is only available to devotees who have worshipped in the temples.
  • Breakfast is served at 8am, lunch at 2pm and the evening meal at 7.30pm.
  • Ashram food is generally simple, natural and vegetarian – rice, dal and vegetables for example.
  • All of our food has been donated with love by devotees, cooked carefully by the resident community, blessed in the temple and served by devotees.
  • It is dishonourable to waste any food by putting it in the bin. 
  • No. Pilgrims must not offer healing, therapies, counselling or medical treatment (except emergency first aid) whilst at Skanda Vale.
  • If you would like to offer these skills please consider volunteering at our hospice.
  • No. Skanda Vale is not a place to find a partner, promote your personal interests, or recruit for other religious or charitable organisations. 
  • It’s not OK to leave religious pictures and leaflets lying around for other pilgrims to pick up.

ASHRAM RULES

NO SMOKING/VAPING

Smoking, vaping and illegal drugs are not allowed.

NO ALCOHOL

Please do not bring any alcohol to the Ashram.

NO PHONES OR CAMERAS

Phones and cameras are not allowed in the temples.

QUIET

Please don't talk in the temples. Make sure your children do not disturb other devotees.

NO LITTERING

We do not employ cleaners, so please do not drop any litter, or we have to clean up after you.

NO PICKING FLOWERS/PLANTS

Do not pick any plants or flowers; the Ashram grounds are sacred.

Valli the temple elephant at Skanda Vale

STAYING SAFE

There are large animals and farm machinery throughout the Ashram. Please read the following guidelines carefully to avoid accidents.

  • Please wash your hands before eating.
  • Do not enter any animal enclosures.
  • Do not touch the animals.
  • Do not climb into or play with any of the farm machinery.
  • Follow all instructions displayed on signs.
  • Keep to public paths and do not climb fences.
KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE
  • Your children are your responsibility, so please keep them close at all times.
  • Special supervision is required around the Sri Ranganatha Temple to ensure children do not venture close to the water’s edge.
  • Children found throwing stones at our birds and animals will be in serious trouble.
WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY
  • Emergency call points are located around the Ashram.
  • Any incidents or accidents must be reported immediately to a member of the monastic Community.
  • If in doubt about a certain area or activity, always consult a member of the Community.
  • For the safety of visitors and residents, CCTV cameras are in operation at various sites throughout the ashram.