Mukti Bhavan: The Hotel Where People Go To Die

In both Hinduism and Jainism, Moksha refers to the liberation of the soul from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma. It’s believed that throughout our lives we collect both good and bad karma depending upon our actions, which will impact our future lives. Death is a key part of our life and karma cycles, and Moksha is the ultimate goal. To achieve Moksha, believers must transcend ignorance and desires, including the desire for Moksha itself.

There are numerous ways to achieve Moksha, with a dip in the Ganges being perhaps the most popular. However, holy cities in India such as Varanasi, also known as Kashi, in northen Uttar Pradesh are also flooded with believers asking priests to free them from the rebirth cycle.

 

Hotels like Mukti Bhavan are spread throughout the city to house the dying as they seek liberation, however this particular home is different as it only allows two weeks for the guests to die before they must give up their room. Mukti Bhavan has thousands of visitors every year, particularly throughout winter. Residential priests are on site to perform the necessary rituals and rites, which help the ailing depart in peace.

There are no suicides or mercy killings, Mukti Bhavan only takes in those who are truly on the verge of death or those who ‘feel they will die’ soon. The healthy are not allowed to stay in the hotel, which has twelve rooms in total as well as a small temple.

Mukti Bhavan 2

Mukti Bhavan’s manager Bhairav Nath Shukla, 60, has been helping those seeking salvation for 44 years. “In a year we get around 800 people from around the country who come to spend their last days in Kashi,” he says. “Some non-residential Indians too have come. On an average people are allowed to stay for 15 days. For some it could be two or three days or even a month till they die.”

Shukla lives on the compound with his family, who are used to visitors dying in the hotel. Most patrons are alone, with no friends or family, and pay a fee of 20 Indian rupees to stay, although the hotel is free to the very poor. “We even help the poor to buy wood and other materials needed for cremation. Moreover, after being here for so long, I can easily calculate when a person will die,” says Shukla.

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Written by Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is a video game, coffee and travel lover from England. Although she is the human equivalent of a sloth Siobhan sometimes writes things, most of which you can find on her blog There You Are Sibby.

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