Looking for a place to rest, recuperate and recharge your mind, body and soul after what has by many standards been a traumatic year? Then Kechara Forest Retreat in Bentong, Pahang, may be just what you need. This spiritual retreat and wellness centre delivers on all these fronts and has been garnering a reputation as one of Malaysia’s top getaway spots.
The perfect antidote to the stresses of city life, this serene 35-acre centre is the brainchild of His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche and has been built into the forest enclave of Bentong with sustainability and eco-friendly at its core. Buddhist teachings, aimed at healing and helping individuals find inner balance, are reflected in all facets here and underpinned by a range of spiritual and meditation programmes.
Echoing the tranquil surroundings are the nature-inspired accommodation, which exude therapeutic vibes that facilitate meditation and contemplation. Manjushri Guest House is a study in modern design with clean lines and beautifully appointed interiors. The Enchanted Forest offers communal living at its best with expansive views of the rolling hills that border it. Meanwhile, converted containers are the base for the Dukkar Apartments which serve as the home for Kecharian workers, members, and volunteers.
Sight For Sore Eyes
This is also home to the world’s tallest Dorje Shugden statue at 24-feet tall, known as ‘World Peace Protector’ in Tibetan Buddhism. Stroll on and you’ll discover 10 more Tibetan Buddhist statues and monuments dotting the grounds and an aviary that acts as a sanctuary for birds rescued from abuse and neglect – among them four sulphur-crested cockatoos and two African grey parrots.
The Retreat hosts a number of spiritual programmes and meditation courses to enlighten the modern citizen on the ancient yet relevant teachings of Buddhism. With standardised and tailor-made content, the courses are designed to inspire the minds of participants, especially those who are on a journey to embrace a healthier lifestyle, spiritual realignment or self-development.
On Spiritual Saturdays, you can take part in Himalayan arts and crafts, organic farming, go on a mini-pilgrimage or simply get close to nature. The Inner Peace Retreat aims to reconnect individuals with their environment and self through mediation and the Inner Reflection Retreat is a three-day guide that takes what was learned in the previous retreat and applies it to everyday life. Finally, if you want to take a deep dive into Buddhism, a four-week course on Buddhist principals, meditation, prayer and practises is also part of the curriculum.
Furry Friends Welcome
The retreat was conceptualised from the get-go as a sanctuary for humans and animals, and in line with this a Pets’ Day Out has become part of the events line-up here. For once a month, Kechara Forest Retreat invites visitors to bring their cats and dogs (for now, they have to be below 16 inches tall) for a day of walkies, relaxing and bonding.
Along with exploring the grounds with your best friend and simply spending quality time together, Pastor pet blessings are available in a few sessions. There are some other guidelines to follow, but most are just common sense – pets should remain leashed, be socialised and used to other animals, and vaccinated for example.
There’s so much more to see and do in this sacred place, we’ve only really scratched the surface. Located only an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, Kechara Forest Retreat is the ideal weekend escape where you can find peace of mind while exploring the lush environs it calls home.
*All pictures credited to kecharaforestretreat.com
Kechara Forest Retreat
Where Lot 3189, Jalan Chamang, 28700 Bentong, Pahang
When 10am-5pm (daily)
Tel 09 221 5600