Welcome to the Universal Town of Auroville.
Auroville is ideal because it does not belong to anyone or to anything! Even though it is situated near Pondicherry in Tamilnadu, a southern state of India, Auroville is a universal township. And it is an experimental township. A township that stands for human unity, a township where people from all over the world lives in harmony and working towards a common goal.
Auroville was founded in the year 1968 . Sri Aurobindo’s visions are the core ideas of Auroville. Sri Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist turned spiritual reformer. He was a poet, philosopher and a yogi.
Mirra Alfassa known as “The Mother” was the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo. She founded Auroville in 1968. This project was backed by Indian Government as well as by UNESCO.
Everything about Auroville is summed up in the words of the Mother in her first public message about the township, “Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.”
Wherever you go in and around Auroville, you can find the pictures of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. If you can not find any, you are at least 10 km away from the borders of Auroville for sure!! ;)
If you have been to Auroville, the next thing comes to your mind will be Matrimandir.
Matrimandir is situated at the very centre of the town. This place is the part of peace zone and strict silence is maintained inside as well as outside premises of Matrimandir.
Inside the matrimandir is an incredible and breath-taking meditation chamber. My first experience inside the Golden globe was beyond words. It is an architectural marvel, from inside as well as from outside. It is said that, the very design was suggested by the Mother which was inspired from a vision she had. The design was perfectly executed by the architect Roger Anger. The great Banyan tree and the largest Crystal ball at the centre of the meditation hall are other important attractions of MatriMandir which you don’t want to miss.
How to Reach Auroville?
Cheapest Way is the Train. Nearest Railway station is Pondicherry. Chennai railway station connects most of the Indian cities. From Chennai, one can get passenger / express trains to Pondicherry.
Buses are available from Chennai to Pondicherry. This is another option.
Getting a taxi from Chennai is another option, which is costlier than above options but so much less hassle. For a safer journey you can also find Auroville Taxi Service. The East Cost road is one of the best roads in India. It runs parallel to the sea and the ride/drive will be a great experience to cherish.
Nearest International Airport is Chennai. So Chennai is the main stop for almost all Auroville related travels.
Well Hitch hiking is also an option if you feel like having a little bit of adventure. Especially if you are travelling by bus till the Auroville bus stop. People are very helping and you are sure to get a ride. On my first day at Auroville , mostly I did hitch hiking.
Things to do in Auroville
There are literally plenty of things to do in Auroville. It is definitely not a one day or a weekend trip. Like I said already at the beginning, it is not your usual picnic!
Auroville is all about Learning and service. And there are a lot of units working based on various concepts like energy conservation, sustainable living, veganism, organic lifestyle, architecture and lots more. So there are a lot of opportunities available for Volunteering, both short term and long term in these units. Contact Visitor’s centre at Auroville for short term volunteering and Saavi for long term volunteering.
There are opportunities available for internships also.
In Auroville, there are hundreds of workshops happening in a month. You just need to know when and where, and then present there during that time. Yoga, acro yoga, meditation, organic farming, forestation and there are many more workshops.
How to find them or keep track of it?
You can find the news letter, a weekly bulletin named as News n Notes from Auroville website. All activities that are planned for the week will be listed in this news letter. Make a note of activities that you are interested in participating before leaving to Auroville. If you are lucky, in News and Notes you might even find a taxi to share from Chennai on your intended day of travel.
* Visiting the MatriMandir
If you visit Auroville and leaves without going to MatriMandir, you are making a big mistake. But you cannot just go there one day, visit and come back. You need to get a pass to go inside Matrimandir. If you are visiting Matrimandir for the first time, for obtaining the pass, you need to physically present at the visitor’s centre to make an appointment. And you might get an appointment on the next day or the day after depending upon the availability. So this process takes at least 2 days. And all the services are free of cost.
To get an appointment visit the Visitor’s centre
Monday to Saturday : 9 am to 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm to 4.30 pm
Sunday : 9.30 am to 1 pm only, afternoon closed.
* Movies & Entertainment Programs
There are regular movie screenings happening at Cinema Paradiso at Auroville Town Hall. Some times music festivals and music shows can also happen.
I have seen a comedy night as well. For all the details again check out the News and Notes, the news bulletin of Auroville.
* Sadhana Forest tour
Sadhana forest is a community in Auroville, who works towards forestation project, water conservation and organic, sustainable living. Every Friday, they offer a free Forest tour, Eco movie screening and vegan dinner.
There will be a pick up and drop service from Auroville Solar kitchen at around 3.30pm every Friday.
This is some unique experience you don’t want to miss out. They even offer volunteering opportunity in the forest. My experience at Sadhana forest was amazing and I already miss that place. I am going to post more about Sadhana Forest in next post.
If you want to take some organic products, organic clothing, bamboo furniture, music instruments; this is the place. Organic Auroville products have a good demand.
There are some cool couch surfers, if are into couch surfing.
Otherwise there are many guest houses inside and outside of Auroville. All details can be found here. Or else check with the Visitor’s centre for all details.
There are other private guest houses are also available, like the one I stayed for two days.
If you are volunteering with some communities, most probably they will take care of your accommodation.
How to get around
Auroville is a township and so is a big place. When I first visited the place, I didn’t realise it and decided to walk and explore the place. But sooner I realised how vast the whole area is!
In the map you will get just the straight line distance. All the paths are radial, likes spiralling towards the centre. So it simply means a lot of walking. But you can always hitch a ride as most of the people will be travelling alone on a moped, bike or motor bike.
You can also rent a bike, moped or a motor bike to go around and explore the place. There will be a refundable deposit and daily rent.
If you are planning on staying for a longer time, it is also a good idea to buy a bicycle if you don’t mind cycling around the place. That will be economical, eco friendly and healthy option. You can always sell it once you are leaving the place.
More details can be found in the following links.
I hope to help you if you have more questions :)
Or Check out the original blog entry for more pictures.