A few kilometres from the small town of Tada, around 70km east of Tirupati, lies the startling complex of the Golden City, home to the Oneness University. The focal point of this community is the stunning and gigantic three-storey Oneness Temple, built in brilliant white marble and visible for miles around. The largest pillarless hall in Asia, it is capable of housing up to five thousand people. The huge edifice has an impressive meditation hall on the upper storey and beneath it areas for communal worship and events, most notably darshan with the founders of the Oneness Movement, Sri Bhagavan (born March 15, 1949 in Natham, Tamil Nadu) and his partner Amma (born August 15, 1954 in Sangam, Andhra Pradesh). Often referred to as Kalki Bhagavan, as many followers have declared him to be the tenth incarnation of Vishnu, the guru has always disavowed this title, concentrating instead on promoting his core message of seeking union with the divine.

After the couple married in 1976, they founded the Jeevashram school in 1984, originally located at Satyaloka, a remote location in the Eastern Ghats near the Andhra and Karnataka borders. Here they developed the philosophy of Oneness, wherein every individual feels connected to all that is and gradually awakens to a state of higher consciousness. This is achieved by the process of deeksha blessing, whereby divine energy is transferred directly to the recipient by a gentle touching of the head around the crown chakra. In the early 1990s, the school relocated to Nemam, in Tamil Nadu north of Chennai, before finding its new home at the Golden City at the turn of the millennium.

The temple is not open to casual visitors but those genuinely interested can arrange a visit in advance and be given a tour. You can find out more about the movement and get details on the four-week-long deepening process at the university by logging onto onenessuniversity.org.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

India: 8 hill stations where you can escape the heat

India: 8 hill stations where you can escape the heat

April, May and June are the hot and sticky months that lead up to monsoon season in India – but don’t let the soaring temperatures put you off visiting. Hil…

27 Apr 2018 • Rachel Mills
The world's quirkiest food festivals

The world's quirkiest food festivals

Tomato-drenched crowds wading through a lake of passata at Valencia’s La Tomatina festival might be a familiar image, but such passionate and eccentric cele…

22 Dec 2017 • Lucy Cowie insert_drive_file Article
Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Modernity is seeping into Old Delhi, a walled district that has long harboured the Indian capital’s traditional ways of life. But what does this mean for long…

11 Dec 2017 • Jack Palfrey local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right