Mata Amritanandamayi Math Mission, Kerala, India

The incongruously pink Matha Amrithanandamayi Mission is the famous ashram of one of India’s few female gurus, Amrithanandamayi, also known as Amma (Mother) or ‘The Hugging Mother’ because of the darshan (audience) she offers, often hugging thousands of people in marathon all-night sessions.

The ashram runs official tours at 4pm and 5pm daily. It’s a huge complex, with about 3000 people living here permanently – monks, nuns, students and families, both Indian and foreign. It offers food, ayurvedic treatments, yoga and meditation. Amma travels around for much of the year, so you might be out of luck if in need of a cuddle. A busy time of year at the ashram is around Amma’s birthday on September 27.

Visitors should dress conservatively and there is a strict code of behaviour. With prior arrangement – register online – you can stay at the ashram in a triple room for ₹250 per person, ₹500 for a single (including simple vegetarian meals).

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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