The Sacred Rudraksha Forest is a unique grove of trees located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, just north of Wailua River State Park. How unique? This grove or forest is the only one comprised of Rudraksha in the entirety of the western world. These evergreen trees grow primarily in the tropics and sub-tropics of Asia, most predominantly in Indonesia. But thanks to a generous gift and the hospitable climate of Hawaii, visitors can enjoy the beauty of these massive trees on Kauai.
The Sacred Rudraksha Forest is a part of Kauai Aadheenam, Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. The monastery and the forest are nestled in a picturesque valley within Kauai’s lush tropical hills. This spiritual sanctuary was founded in 1970 to serve as a Hindu center and teaching center for yogis, swamis, and sadhakas. In 1984, one of the teachers of Kauai Aadheenam brought back 108 Rudraksha saplings from his travels and set to work planting them near the monastery. Once done, the Rudraksha forest was dedicated to all pilgrims to the monastery and to the greater Kauai community.
Today, this sacred grove of Rudraksha trees are visited by people from around the world, both those traveling as pilgrims and those who simply want to see the wonder of these stately trees. People are invited into the grove every day of the year between 6 am and 6 pm, entrance for this is free with donations encouraged. Fully matured Rudraksha trees can reach heights of upwards of 100 feet. That is a pretty incredible height, especially when compared with most trees you will see in the United States. For example, the average palm tree will grow a maximum of 50 feet in height. That said, because the Sacred Rudraksha Forest is not yet fully matured, these trees likewise only stretch 50 to 60 feet in the air at this time. Still among the tallest trees in Hawaii.
Another unique aspect of the Sacred Rudraksha trees, and undoubtedly one of the reasons why they were chosen to border the monastery, are its berries and their seeds. In fact, this tree’s nickname, Blue Marble, comes from these trees. Every flowering season, stunning cobalt blue-colored fruit burst from the tree’s branches. These berries will slowly darken in color until they become a very dark, almost black shade that signifies they are ripe and mature. But the real prize is what’s inside these fruits. The monks harvest the matured fruit and soak them in water, removing the fleshy outer layer. What gets left are the hard seeds of the Rudraksha trees which are used to make jewelry. These Rudraksha beads are prized the world over for their multi-faced appearance and the belief that wearing them increases concentration, provides clarity, and encourages peace of the mind.
Beaded jewelry made from the seeds of trees from the Sacred Rudraksha Forest is available for sale at the monastery. You are also welcome to collect seeds you might find on the ground as a small souvenir, just note that you may not be able to take them on the airplane.
Another thing to keep in mind for your trip to the Sacred Rudraksha Forest and attached monastery is that they strongly value modesty. And while the monks do welcome the general public, this is private property, and they will enforce dress codes by offering sarongs for cover-ups. The general rules are no shorts, no tight-fitting yoga pants, no short dresses, and no tank tops or obscene t-shirts. Polo shirts and knee-covering shorts are okay with traditional Hindu clothing and elegant dress wear preferred.
Once a week, the monastery will offer a free guided tour of the grounds, including the Sacred Rudraksha forest. However, these tours do tend to book up early due to the limited parking and that it only occurs once a week so make sure to call and reserve your spot early!