Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine – Los Angeles, California - Atlas Obscura

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Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

This serene oasis in an affluent Los Angeles neighborhood holds some of Gandhi's ashes and got Elvis into Eastern Philosophy. 


Tucked away in Los Angeles’ wealthy Pacific Palisades neighborhood is the sprawling Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, a ten-acre campus devoted to peaceful natural vistas and spiritual enlightenment which has played host to a number of pop icons as well as the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi. 

The site was founded in 1950 by famed yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, which brought the teachings of Eastern Philosophy to countless Westerners in the mid-20th century. Despite the bustling neighborhood surrounding it, the shrine sits on acres of quiet land that features lush gardens and its very own lake, inviting guests to take a step back from the fast-paced chaos of modern LA. The are also a number of constructed features on the grounds such as a windmill that was left by the previous owners of the land which has been converted to a chapel; an inclusive monument honoring some of the world’s major religions including Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism; and possibly most remarkable, the relatively simple tomb-shrine of Mahatma Gandhi which actually holds a portion of his remains.

Operated by the Self-Realization Fellowship, the lake shrine has played host to some of the biggest names in pop music of the 20th century. The King, Elvis Presley is said to have visited the shrine and become so enamored with it that he struck up a lifelong relationship with the president of the Fellowship. In addition, the funeral of late-Beatle George Harrison was also held on the grounds as he was a devotee of the Fellowship.

Today the lake shrine is still open to visitors who need to step away from the smog and noise of the city, so next time that life-changing audition falls through, take a stroll through the grounds and realize that all will be well.       

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