Swami Vivekananda travelled to many places outside India but only a handful of devotees know that he also traveled to Thousand Island Park or TI Park, for short. The divine location is credited for being the epicenter of Hindu thought and philosophy in the U.S.
Specifically, TI Park is located on Wellesley Island on the St. Lawrence River, near the Canadian border. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and akin to a late nineteenth century Chautauqua-like community. There are hundreds of colorful ginger bread cottages and fancy recreational boat houses.
It’s said that the young yogi, Vivekananda, achieved the highest stage of enlightenment or sotāpanna on August 7th, 1895 on the rocks that overlook the beautiful blue river valley.
Our friends Marie and Mark, who own a summer home at TI Park, invited us on a stroll around the Swami retreat. A pilgrimage of interfaith devotees return here every August to worship when the cottage is open.
We let our boundless dogs lead the way on the winding trails behind the cottage. A mindful feeling of calm, grace and happiness overcame me. I’d almost call it transcendental.
Birds sang, a golden light dappled between tree branches and a warm breeze blew over the prairie grass. Nature, or perhaps more, evoked a sense of holy presence and bliss.
Special geological features like glacial potholes and unique habitats unfolded on eight miles of trails at this landmark location. The pathway also bordered a watery channel called the Narrows that Marie and Mark would later escort us through on a sunset boat cruise.
Soon we reached the spot where the Swami is said to have reached his spiritual fulfillment. A rock memorial stood near the site of a low-branded tree (called a Bo-tree) where he meditated through a blinding rainstorm.
We didn’t stay long enough at this existential location for my liking but odds are always good I’ll be back! For more information on how you can visit this special granite outcropping, check out the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center website.