Looking for this year’s garden tour? Visit the Spring Garden Tours page for current dates and times that the garden is open, plus directions and more.
For the past two years, spring tours of Crystal Hermitage Gardens have become a Northern California event. About 1,000 people drove from as far as the Bay Area during two weekends in April to enjoy the the thousands of tulips, flowering trees, and soaring views of the Yuba River Canyon: the breathtaking setting for Crystal Hermitage at Ananda Village.
The constant stream of visitors drove through the Village, slowing as they passed by the apple orchard near the entrance, to watch Ananda people building “the food forest,” our first efforts at permaculture.
Onward they drove, up and over the hills, to bravely climb the steep paths that lead to Crystal Hermitage from the forested parking lot. Oh, but the reward was well worth it! As they entered the gates, friendly Ananda faces and a place of heavenly beauty welcomed the guests.
Crystal Hermitage is the home of Swami Kriyananda when he is in residence, and a spiritual center of the community. Many events take place in the spacious grounds and house: weekly meditations and spiritual gatherings, birthday parties, weddings, and celebrations of every kind. It is also a place of spiritual retreat for Ananda’s guests and residents alike.
Over 30 years of loving, attentive care that have gone into planting the gardens and erecting buildings, have borne fruit. An aura of profound healing peace permeates the Hermitage grounds, uplifting everyone who comes.
The weather was pristine, with temperatures in the low 80’s. It was a photographer’s paradise. Bright sunlight illuminated the gardens, enticing everyone with a camera to capture the beauty of the moment.
People leisurely strolled down the main staircase, along the terraces, and the koi pond, often stopping to admire this or that display of blossoms that spoke particularly to them. Every bench and low wall provided restful points in which to enjoy the surroundings. Some sat quietly, others chatted, happy to share this special day with friends.
Refreshments were served on the wisteria-covered patio of the main house. The house itself was open for tours, welcoming people with its unusual, soaring architecture, original paintings, hand-carved Kashmiri furniture, and artifacts from around the world.
A few visitors meditated near the statue of Babaji (one of Ananda’s line of yoga Masters) in the Lower Gardens, while others sat near the landscaped pool to simply absorb the beauty and peace of the grounds.
The Chapel in the Upper Gardens inspired appreciative questions about its construction. The Chapel is built of stone, its size and architecture reminiscent to that of the Porziuncola of St. Francis near Assisi, Italy. A few commented that this is where they would like to have their wedding.
Avid gardeners had the pleasure of meeting with the Hermitage staff landscapers to identify plants and talk “all things garden.” The Village residents milled about, serving as hosts to the awe-struck visitors, answering their questions about the gardens, community, and Ananda’s spiritual path. Children found enjoyment at every turn, and everyone had a smile or a look of peace on their face, their hearts opened to the beauty and spiritual vibrations of the place.
We didn’t leave our guests nourished by spiritual beauty alone. After touring the gardens, many stopped for a gourmet vegetarian lunch served at the Expanding Light. Their day was now complete!
And so was ours, for all of us serving at these events felt great joy along with a renewed sense of gratitude at the opportunity to share it. It was a beautiful divine exchange between Ananda and our guests, who may have not otherwise visited us, were it not for the Gardens. No matter what people may call it, they have truly experienced the joy of their soul, the joy of God.
Watch 6-minute video of the Crystal Hermitage Gardens: