Seelisberg in Canton Uri in central Switzerland holds great significance for the Swiss. It was here that the Swiss Confederation was founded on August 1, 1291, when a small group of local patriots signed The Pact of Everlasting Alliance, a mutual defense agreement. The parchment document is on view in the town of Schwyz not far away.

Seelisberg, itself, is a small village, which towers above the entrance to the southern part of the Lake of Lucerne, known as the Lake of Uri. The Rütli Meadow, where The Pact of Everlasting Alliance was signed, is directly below the village at lakeside, and is served by a lake steamer. There is also a popular walking trail from Seelieberg to the Meadow.

The view from Seelisberg of the lake and surrounding mountains  is breathtaking. In fact, it is depicted as a fresco in the Swiss House of Representatives in Bern.

But Seelisberg is a place of contrasts. In 1972, the Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, declared Seelisberg “the most spiritual place on Earth”, and set up the worldwide Transcendental Meditation Movement there, which brought thousands of TM teacher-trainees and practitioners to Seelisberg – not to mention the press – on a regular basis. The TM legacy remains in Seelisberg in the form of the Maharishi European Research University and the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre. It is also in Seelisberg that TM teachers are still trained. The TM headquarters are in the old Sonnenberg grand hotel, an impressive remnant of the Victorian Era and “The Grand Tour”, although its importance has diminished since the TM Movement moved its world headquarters to The Netherlands some years ago.

Seelisberg is a favorite place of pilgrimage for the Swiss, and offers a great number of hiking and walking possibilities, as well as winter sports. It is easily reachable by bus, lake steamer and funicular, as well as by private car. There is a wide range of accommodation available in a variety of categories. Seelisberg is a quiet and uplifting place, and perfect for “getting away from it all”.

Bob Zanotti has been to Seelisberg many times. During one visit, he spoke with a longtime resident and TM practitioner, Otto Odermatt.

(also see Features: Seelisberg Ayurveda)