The K J Somaiya Institute of Dharma Studies has an outreach centre, which was developed in collaboration with Venerable Dhammadipa, a Buddhist monk from the Czech Republic, and Godavari Biorefineries Ltd, the flagship of the Somaiya group. Venerable Dhammadipa is one of the foremost practitioners of Buddhist meditation, particularly known for his retreats on Samatha meditation. He has trained extensively in the forest traditions of Sri Lanka and Myanmar, before embarking upon teaching the Dharma at Buddhist centres around the world.

He first came to Somaiya Vidyavihar in 2010 and shared with our Chancellor, Shri Samir Somaiya, his long-held aspiration to create a centre for retreat and study of Buddhist meditation, in a quiet, rural setting. Shri Samir Somaiya very graciously allocated land at Sakarwadi, near Shirdi. In what was a remarkable example of maitri, the Buddhist virtue of loving kindness, students and friends of Venerable Dhammadipa from Taiwan, Europe, USA, generously donated towards the project.

The centre was named Jetavan, after the grove that was gifted to the Buddha and his Sangha, by Anathapindika, a wealthy merchant from Savatthi. The half-acre plot has about 35 trees and the building was designed in the spaces they permitted. Jetavan today hosts students and teachers from the Somaiya Vidyavihar and Ayurvihar campuses in Mumbai, who engage with the local community on religious teachings across all traditions, through story-telling, music and meditation retreats. Additionally, beginner level sessions are conducted on Pali language, Yoga as well as health and entrepreneurship. Jetavan was inaugurated on 7th January 2016 and speaking on the occasion, Shri Samir Somaiya said this would be a space for non-sectarian spiritual practice and wellness.

Designed by the renowned architect, Sameep Padora of Sp+A, the construction was carried out by artisan teams of Hunnarshala Foundation. The project attracted international attention for its unique design and materiality. The walls are built of flyash (a waste product from the Godavari Biorefineries factory) and quarry dust. Wooden rafters on the inverted roof, made of old hard wood sourced from the shipbreaking yard at Alang, are layered with “mud rolls” – an innovation of the Hunnarshala team that serve to insulate the structure – before the re-used Mangalore tiles were placed on the roof. The flooring in the entire building is of the traditional Indian cow-dung type and along with the insulation on the roof, serves to keep a much cooler temperature inside the building in the hot dry summer of the area. The inverted roof effectively blurs the distinction between indoors and outdoors, making for an exceptional and unique experience in the building.

There are two halls in Jetavan, one with a Buddha that is made of Odisha sandstone, the work of award-winning sculptor Shri Ratnakar Maharana. Weighing 600 kgs and 5.50 ft in height, it is modelled on the famous Gupta period image which is at Sarnath museum. The other hall has a graceful bronze Saraswati, donated by the Somaiya family from its collection and underscores the non-sectarian nature of the project. Jetavan also has 3 double rooms for residence, and an overnight stay a truly special experience, quite like being out on a camp!


Outreach project located in Vari Gaon, Ahmednagar district. The project aims to engage with the community in providing avenues for spiritual practice and physical

Jetavan Tour