Auroville is a city which is located in Tamil Nadu and lies very close to Pondicherry. The city itself was born on the 28th of February 1968 when its founder, the Mother created the Auroville Charter. The Charter comprises of four main ideas which later formed the vision of Auroville. Reading the Auroville charter is inspiring in itself. In fact, it was the core concept that drove me to badger Shawn to make a pit-stop on the way.
The essence of the Auroville Charter is that the city belongs to no one in particular. On the contrary it belongs to everyone. Education here is unending and Auroville is to be the bridge between the past and the future. The city is also a site for material and spiritual research. From all that it says, and after visiting the place, it is obvious that Auroville opens its arms irrespective of who you are and where you come from. That is what made me want to visit the city so badly.
AS YOU ENTER AUROVILLE
A miniature replica of Auroville.
You will find that Auroville is buzzing with activity from the moment you set your foot in it. You can park you vehicle in the visitors parking lot and you have to pay a nominal parking fee. The parking lot was big and even though we arrived on a weekend, there was no issue with finding a parking spot.
As you enter into Auroville, you will notice that the foyer is covered with different reading material. There are diagrams and models that serve to explain the layout of the city. A short film gives you another perspective into the history of Auroville. Once you are done looking around, head to the counter and take a ticket from the person seated there. The ticket itself is free so don’t worry about the cost. It is then time to visit the Matrimandir.
TIMINGS TO VISIT THE MATRIMANDIR
The nice path that we walked.
Before you head anywhere, we always advocate checking on the timings of the place. This prevents disappointment and the loss of valuable time. It also prevents you from spoiling the overall mood of the vacation.
In order to visit the Matrimandir viewing point one must collect the visitor passes/tickets from the visitor center as I have mentioned before. These passes are available from Monday to Saturday between 9 am to 4 pm and on Sundays between 9 am and 1 pm. In case you want to enter the Matrimandir you have to make prior reservations.
Observing the wild.
Auroville’s Matrimandir is a walk away from the entrance. It is a beautiful walk with threes on either side. It isn’t too difficult a walk. I had bronchitis and was rasping away but I enjoyed every bit of my time spent out in the open. If you do feel like you can’t make it then there are buses and auto rickshaws (tuk-tuks) that also ply. You just can’t take your personal vehicle in. Our advice would be to walk though. It’s worth it!
The Banyan tree is believed to be over 100 years old.
The Matrimandir lies at the center and is akin to the soul of the city. Legend has it that when the Mother was asked where to set up the heart of the city, she pointed to a spot on the map. At that point of time the road was nonexistent and the Mother had not even set foot in the place which was soon to be the city. When the area was scoured it was found that at exactly the same point that the Mother had marked was a Banyan tree. It was the soul living being on the vast expanse of barren land. The Banyan tree is still there and remains tall and proud. You can see it as you walk towards the Matrimandir.
NOTEWORTHY PROJECTS IN AUROVILLE
The solar farm.
From what we could see, Auroville was working towards a greener future. As you walk around it is hard to believe that the land was once barren. Today the city is green, beautiful and peaceful. Reforestation and farming however aren’t the only contributions towards a greener future. We saw a small solar farm that supplied the city. Cooking is done by using a solar cooker. The city even has a Biogas plant. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see it. Cow dung from the farms provides the basic input for the plant.
A QUIET LUNCH IN AUROVILLE
My perfect lunch!!
There are a few places where one can catch a quick lunch in. French pastries, hot coffee or even a nice ice cream can be found on the campus. We however headed to the larger restaurant. It was quaint, it was busy but the food was delicious. You can get everything from vegetarian and vegan food to non vegetarian meals.
All in all, Auroville is a great place to visit. It has a quiet charm about it. Everyone smiles and is cheerful. You can find people from all communities and from different countries mixing with each other and supporting each other. For us we loved the city because it was a place where the stereotypes faded away and the unity between human beings came into focus. Someday we will go back and maybe volunteer there.
Have you been to Auroville? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.