The ashram of a living master serves as a sanctuary, where one can contemplate, reflect, and recharge while experiencing the path of yoga.
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Amritapuri, Amma’s Ashram
Amrita Yoga offers retreats in Amritapuri, the ashram (spiritual center) of Amma. She is known worldwide as the “Hugging Saint”. Amritapuri is her birthplace and main ashram. It is located in a remote fishing village in the state of Kerala in South India.
In the beginning the ashram was Amma’s family’s home. The handful of brahmacharis and brahmacharinis (monks and nuns) slept on the sand under the stars. Amma had a small hut built next to her parents’ house. It doubled as a kitchen and sleeping quarters for Amma and the earliest female disciples. Darshan, Amma’s blessing and embrace, took place in the converted family cowshed. This small temple, known as the Kalari, exists today. It is used for conducting pujas and homas (Vedic rituals).
Vedic rituals at Amritapuri ashram.
Amritapuri grew from this humble beginning into a vibrant international community. It is the living example of the Indian ideal “the whole world is one family” (vasudhaiva kutumbakam). It’s now the spiritual home for 3,500 monastic disciples and devotees from around the world. Regardless of the size, the ashram is filled with Amma’s presence; her hand is in each individual’s inner growth.
Nearby is Amrita University, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham which Amma founded. Her vision is to provide value-based education through the synthesis of science and spirituality. Amrita University is a multi-campus, multi-disciplinary research university. It includes schools of Arts and Sciences, Ayurveda, Biotechnology, Business, Engineering, Medicine, and Social Work. Accredited ‘A’ by NAAC, it ranks as one of the best private research universities in India.
Amrita University near Amritapuri ashram.
It is also the hub for Amma’s humanitarian efforts including Embracing the World, Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM), and Amrita Serve. They serve the world’s poor by helping to meet five basic needs — food, shelter, healthcare, education, and livelihood. These efforts often focus on meeting the needs after major natural disasters. They also work on environmental and sustainability issues. Working with Amrita University, researchers innovate new ways to serve those in need wherever they are. Volunteers do the vast majority of these efforts.
Front view of the main temple.
Looking from the roof of the tallest building on the ashram, you’ll see fishing eagles soaring. Below is the colorful Kali Temple. The bell of the pujari rings as he leads the pujas (Vedic rituals) in the Kalari. To the west is the Arabian Sea where Amma meditates at sunset with residents and visitors. The breeze through the palm trees, the sound of waves, and Amma’s profound stillness even in the midst of an incident like the Tsunami inspires many.
Each person living here feels the innate reverberations of the embodiment of Pure Consciousness in Amma and her stillness pervades through every moment of their lives. To the east, across the backwaters, is Amrita University, Amma’s hub of innovation.
Volunteers helping chop vegetables.
Chanting begins the day and bhajana (devotional singing) welcome the evening. During the day residents and visitors do seva, selfless service for the ashram. The work is endless; from washing buckets to serving food. These essential jobs keep this well-oiled machine running. The Amritapuri community is run and maintained only by volunteers selflessly offering their part. This service brings them joy and contentment.
Amrita Yoga, meditation, Sanskrit, Vedanta, music and other classes take place daily. Pujas and homas happen several times a day.
Amma created a timetable for her disciples. Visitors are welcome to follow this schedule, if they choose. The daily schedule is open with plenty of opportunity for reflection, introspection and meditation – especially at the beach.
Meditation on the beach.
5:00 am – 6:00 am Chanting of Sri Lalita Sahasra Nama (Archana)
6:30 am – 7:30 am Meditation (Dhyana)
8:30 am – 10:30 am Breakfast
10:00 am – 1:00 pm Selfless Service (Seva)
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm Selfless Service (Seva)
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Meditation (Dhyana)
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm Devotional Singing (Bhajana)
8:15 p.m. – 9:00 pm Dinner
9:00 pm – 10:00 pm Personal study, Meditation (Svadhyaya, Dhyana)
Amma greeting Her devotees.
Amma in the Ashram
Amma stays in Amritapuri about 4 months a year. She is in the ashram August and September and most of December. From January till the end of March, she usually tours India, staying at the ashram when not on tour. Amma travels internationally in April, May, June, July, October and November. Check her travel schedule before planning to visit Amritapuri.
Dhyana (Meditation) and Bhajana with Amma
Amma joins the group later in the morning. She leads the group in meditation in her native language which is translated. She answers questions of devotees and then serves prasad (food-lunch) to the residents and international visitors. In the evening she leads Bhajana (devotional singing) in the main hall.
On Monday and Friday afternoon Amma leads the meditation on the beach and guides a question & answer session. She leads the evening Bhajana in the main hall.
Amma giving darshan.
Four days a week, Amma gives darshan to devotees and visitors. (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). You are welcome to receive Amma’s personal blessing called darshan.
Travel & Staying at Amritapuri
International visitors need to register online. You can arrange taxi service from the Trivandrum and Kochi airports when you register.
How to Reach Amritapuri
Amritapuri is in the small fishing village of Parayakadavu on the west coast of Kerala (located in the far southwest of India). The ashram is two and a half hours north of Trivandrum and three hours south of Cochin (Kochi).
By Air and Taxi
The two closest airports are in Trivandrum (110 km south of Amritapuri) and in Cochin (140 km north). If you didn’t order a taxi, go to the “Airport Taxi Service” counter and ask for a prepaid taxi to “Mata Amritanandamayi Ashram” at Amritapuri. You can order an ashram taxi from a hotel in Cochin or Trivandrum.
Boatman under Amrita Setu pedestrian bridge.
The journey from Trivandrum takes three hours. From Cochin, it is four hours. You can ask to come by the “Beach Road” from Karunagappally. This road crosses the backwaters and brings you into the ashram. Otherwise, you will be dropped off in Vallickavu. You will cross the backwaters over Amrita Setu, the pedestrian bridge. If you have heavy luggage you can take a hand-poled boat across.
By Bus or Train
Kayankulam (12 km north of Amritapuri) and Karunagapally (10 km south) are the closest towns. Small auto-rickshaws can bring you to Amritapuri. There are regular buses from Kayankulam Railway Station (KYJ) to Amrita Setu (bridge).
What to Bring
International visitors: Your passport and a photocopy of your passport and visa.
Indian visitors: Bring your voter’s ID or Aadhaar card.
What to Pack
Most of the basic necessities (including sheets, pillows, mattresses, and cleaning supplies) are provided by the ashram. Clothing, shoes, toiletries and household necessities are also available at the ashram.
Things you may need
Cool, comfortable, modest clothing
Yoga mat for asana practice
Copies of prescriptions for medications (put these in your carry-on luggage)
Nutritional supplements and medications that you may need
Scan a copy of your passport and visa and email it to yourself. You can also take a photo with your phone. This is very helpful in the unlikely event you lose your passport.
Extra contact-lens solution (if applicable)
Flashight, reading light
Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
Power converter, as outlets and electrical voltage are different from the US and Europe.
Note: Hair driers, Electric kettles, Coils and appliances using a lot of electrical power are not allowed as they blow fuses.
You are welcome to bring laptop and mobile phone.
Flowers at Amritapuri ashram.
Visitors are requested to respect local customs by wearing modest clothing around the ashram. We suggest loose-fitting, clothes that cover the body from ankles to elbows. No shorts, sleeveless tops or transparent clothes.
Plan to wear modest t-shirts and pants or shorts for yoga classes. Tank tops are not permitted in class.
Before You Travel
Bank and credit cards: Inform your bank and credit card companies the exact dates of your travel so they allow your cards to be used in the countries you will be traveling in.
Important: Bring contact phone numbers of your bank and credit cards.
Cell Phone: Inform your cell phone company of the dates of your trip as well. If your company offers global coverage, then you might wish to activate this plan for your trip. Some people purchase simple phones and coverage plans when they arrive in India.
Weather: Prepare for hot, humid weather. August/September is the rainy season. December/January is fairly hot, rain is uncommon.
It is my first time traveling to India. What should I keep in mind?
If you are traveling alone, always use caution. Don’t go to non-tourist areas alone at night.
It is best to travel with a friend or tell someone where you are going if you go off on your own.
Conservative clothing is usually required for sacred places in India.
The ashram is a spiritual community with practicing nuns and monks. To respect ashram custom and Indian culture, we encourage people of opposite genders to not touch or hug, etc.
Round rooms with a view of one of the many ashram gardens.
Everyone is welcome to visit! Amma has set up the ashram to comfortably accommodate the diverse people that visit and live here.
Private rooms for couples and families are usually available. Single men and women share rooms with same gender roommates. You may not be able to book a private room given the number of visitors. Some wheelchair accessible rooms are available. The rooms are simple, typically with mattresses on the floor. Most have an attached bathroom with a Western style toilet and shower. Pillows and sheets are provided.
Simple, Indian style ashram meals are provided along with your accommodation. Non-spicy, western style food is also available. Free chai (tea with milk) is served morning and afternoon.
Residents teaching village children to swim in the ashram pool as part of the Amma’s tsunami-relief efforts.
Facilities and Services
Bank and ATM – change foreign currency and traveler’s checks, get cash advances on credit cards, and wire money.
Internet access, International Telephone and Fax facilities, Photocopying.
Fresh water taps with drinking water are located throughout Amritapuri.
Swimming pool – open daily to cool off and go for a swim.
Library – spiritual and educational materials for children and adults. Children’s library has a small play area. Parents are encouraged to bring their child’s favorite toys, books and art supplies. (internal link to kids yoga)
The ashram allopathic Medical Clinic and Pharmacy are open daily.
The Ayurveda Hospital and Clinic offer appointments and extensive Panchakarma treatments.
Massage and other holistic health care services are available.
Recycling and Composting Center – Committed sevites sift through trash from the Ashram and separate it for recycling, reuse, resale, compost and disposal.
Sunset on the beach at Amritapuri ashram.
Contact us if you have any questions.
Let us know if we could add information to this page that would be helpful to you.
We look forward to seeing you at Amritapuri!
Om shanti, shanti, shanti.
Om peace, peace, peace.