Utmost Tranquility@ Auroville Pondicherry,India

The novel concept of utmost harmony at Auroville

Literally, Auroville means a “city of dawn”. Auroville is an experimental township near Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, India. It’s motto is to be a universal, self sustaining township. Hence, men and women live in utmost peace with each other inside this township. However it doesn’t matter from which part of the world they come from. Or, which religion they follow or what are their traditions. Ultimately, the purpose of this township is to realize human unity. Actually there is no concept of “belonging” in this township. Therefore, it belongs to it’s community and humanity as a whole. And, this is what the experimentation is about. In conclusion, people of various nationality live here in harmony. As of now, there are Indian, French, Germans, Italians, Dutch, Americans, Russians and almost 40 other nationalities. And, all  are living together in this township in harmony.
 Auroville Pondicherry

History of Auroville

In 1964, Sri Aurobindo Society in Pondicherry passed a resolution in it’s annual conference for the construction of a society called Auroville.  It was conceived as a city as per the vision of Sri Aurobindo who was a preacher of world peace and harmony. Auroville was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa. She was fondly called “The Mother”. The society was designed by architect Roger Anger. It was thus setup with the belief that this experimental township would contribute significantly towards the growth of humanity , owing to it’s universal nature. Till 1980, the whole township , the area of the city and all the assets were solely owned by Sri Aurobindo society.
Actually Mirra passed away in 1973. And post her death, some discrepancies crept in between the residents of Auroville and the management committee of the society. The residents then appealed to the government for intervention. As a result in 1988 the government of India took over the management of the society. Since then, auroville has been managed by the government of India.

Our visit to Auroville

We visited this township of Auroville in April, 2012. Although, it is quiet hot in the month of April in Pondicherry. Nevertheless, our spirits were on a high once we learnt the concept of this township.As, we were more than eager to experience it. So, we took an autorickshaw from near our hotel and arrived at Auroville entrance by 10 in the morning. As you can see in the picture below, the entrance way is flocked by greenery all over.

Model of the township of Auroville

Crossing the entrance, one reaches the hall that describes the whole concept of Auroville. In our opinion, it’s a great idea to introduce the tourists to the whole concept before they start their exploration of the township. This hall features a “model” of the whole township. Below is a picture of the 3D model of township that is on display in the hall. Also, the hall contains information on history of Auroville. In additiona, statistics related to the demography of the township are also displayed here.
Auroville Pondicherry
A map of Auroville Pondicherry

The meditation center of Matrimandir

Henceforth, we started our journey across the massive green fields of the township. However, due to the hot weather, we kept stopping in between in the artistically designed shades to rest for a while. (Pondicherry is a coastal town. Hence, it boasts of hot and humid temperature almost all through the year)
There’s a bus service running inside the township. It takes the visitors to the Matrimandir. Matrimandir is a meditation center in the middle of the township. The area inside Matrimandir is called “peace area”. And, true to the name, utmost silence is maintained inside this center for realization of peace and tranquility. Also, Matrimandir has a solar power plant equipped with it. And It is surrounded by manicured gardens. However, to get an entry to Matrimandir for practicing meditation, you need to take an appointment well in advance, else , the seats get filled. Not to forget, there is often a waiting queue for a week for admission to the interiors of Matrimandir!! Although, that is only a little sum to achieve peace, isn’t it?

Auroville Pondicherry

Zones of Auroville

On the four sides of Matrimandir are four zones into which Auroville is broadly divided. These are:
  • “Residential zone” where the residents of the aashram live.
  • “Industrial Zone” where the self-sustaining industrial business of Auroville thrive.
  • “Cultural and Educational Zone” with recreational units, schools etc.
  • “International Zone”.

The self sustaining model of Auroville

The residents of Auroville and staff from nearby villages conduct farming and botanical gardening on the stretch of green belt that surrounds the region. And, this farming makes Auroville self-sustaining for it’s agricultural needs. Also, it generates employment for nearby villagers. Auroville community also runs schools where the children of employees get education.

Auroville Pondicherry
After paying a visit to Matrimandir, we went to the center of tourist spot. Here, there were refreshment shops for tea, coffee and snacks. And, each shop is run by people of different nationality. Actually, in some shops, we could even see people of different nationality and race working together!! We had not witnessed this kind of an example of harmony anywhere else. It is heartwarming to see people from different cultures and societies not just settled here but working hand-in-hand. We had coffee at a refreshment center run by a french couple who reside here.
This is where we understood the concept of self sustained model of Auroville. From farms to schools, shops, refreshment centers, hospital every possible establishment that one needs to interact with is present within the premises of the township itself. Also, all of these are run by the people residing here. Isn’t it awesome!!

The shopping center

Also, there is a huge shopping center at the commercial hub nearby the refreshment centers. And, it is ladened with locally made handicrafts made with bio-friendly raw materials like recyclable paper, cloth etc. The shop have hanging paper lanterns, night lamps, cloths for men,women, children, handmade soaps, perfume, jewelry, art and various other products. Basically, everyone can find a perfect souvenir for himself/herself or family to take back home.
Auroville Pondicherry
The shopping complex at Auroville
Although, when we visited here first, we were unaware of the concept. Nevertheless,  we came back and read about it . And, the more we read, the more impressed we felt. In conclusion, we would love to visit there again and to contribute in some way possible . This township is open to people volunteering in different ways. For more information, you can visit the official website . Below I am providing a brief summary of the available options at Auroville

Accommodation at Auroville

Auroville has several guest houses available for accommodation in case you want to stay at the premises itself. These vary from economical to luxury. The details of the guest houses, how to book and all other information can be found on their official website for guest houses here. Non Indians will require tourist visa which is issued for 6 months stay. Entry visa is required in case you need to stay for longer period. Again, the details can be checked from their website. Although, being a very popular place, you must ensure to book your stay in advance, particularly in the peak season period of November – February . And, also otherwise, in other seasons. The rush at Auroville never stops.
Note: There is a special caution message at Auroville that conveys this – “Along the way to Auroville you will see several guest houses and hotels that bear the name “Auro” or similar names. They are not a part of Auroville. So, you should understand this in case you are intending to stay at Auroville

Auroville for visitors & contributors

Although Auroville is open to public all through the year. And thus you can visit here any day. Still, there are many of us who would like to take a step further and contribute to this society in different forms. Here’s a crips summary of what all you can do for the same:

  1. You can stay at the Auroville premises. The contribution from your stay will be going in for self sustaining the township.
  2. There are 22 different eateries at Auroville at the time of this writing. Some are open to general public while others are in the township where you can go in case you are staying on the premises and contributing in some form. They are all run by people from diverse culture and different parts of the world, so, definitely, this makes the township a true multi cuisine.
  3. If you intend to join the community, you will be required to go through some formalities and then follow some rules and regulations. You can see the details for the same here. Also, every resident is supposed to make a monthly contribution for the period of their stay in Auroville.
  4. Volunteering : There are multiple volunteering options in Auroville. Actually, every single person living in the township is a volunteer in some way. As, people step forward to help each other all the time with different things. However, there are also dedicated volunteer opportunities for those seeking it from outside. These include:
    1. Lending a helping hand in alternative medicine practice done in Auroville
    2. Working at the Auroville farms
    3. Building maintenance
    4. Teaching, assisting with the primary and secondary education in the township
    5. Organic farming
    6. Experimenting with (and contributing towards) renewable sources of energy
    7. Village outreach , providing education and heath care and other basic requirements to nearby villages

 

Auroville , Pondicherry. An experimental township society built on the concept of world harmony. People of all nationality are welcome to live here. Volunteer tourism opportunity also available

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40 Responses

  1. Brown Gal Trekker

    what a hidden treasure! I’d love to visit the meditation center… looks like a fabulous day to just relax and be reflective. Thanks for sharing this gem.

  2. It’s so funny, I was just talking about this place with my girlfriend and then I saw your article! This place has been on my mind for years.Such a fascinating concept.We will be visiting Auroville next year and possibly even staying there for a while.Brilliant article,I love all the information and the historical background you gave.

    • Thanks Niko. I wish you a happy journey and hope you will as much love Auroville and Pondicherry as a destination, as I did. Do share with me your experience of staying at Auroville. Something I wanted to do but couldn’t.

  3. Nadine Smith

    So interesting! I like the concept of the “peace area.” Sounds like the kind of place I would frequent whenever I need some clarity.

    • Absolutely. I wish to have experienced the interiors of the Matrimandir. I bet it must be very peaceful in there

  4. What a co-incidence. I was writing about Pondicherry and then I stumbled upon this. I still regret that I was not able to go to Auroville. It sure looks like a tranquil place. I would love to go back. Maybe end of this year.

  5. Wow, this is so unique and interesting. I love that it relies on the collaboration and joint work of the community to achieve peace. What a special place and great opportunity for you to visit!

  6. That sounds like a really interesting concept for a town! I like that everyone lives in peace and works together from all backgrounds.

  7. NowThatsAHoneymoon

    Thanks for sharing. This is the first time I heard of this place, so it’s interesting to learn it here! An interesting concept too!

  8. Interesting. I have never heard this place before – although I’ve been to 40+ countries, sadly I have never been to India (boooo!). I will be sometime soon!
    Keep blogging and safe travels,
    Halef

  9. That’s a really nice concept. Let’s hope that those living there can achieve their aim of living peacefully, in harmony. I find towns like this which have been specifically designed with a certain purpose in mind so fascinating.

  10. Auroville looks like a lovely place to visit. It’s definitely a place I would like to go to in the future. Thanks for sharing.

    • It is indeed a beautiful concept on which this place is formed – so a must visit

  11. What an interesting place, have never heard of it before. Quite magical, how golden the building is!

  12. I love when I hear about self sustaining places. I’ve never been to Auroville but I’ll add it to my list. Thank you

  13. We actually read about Auroville in the newspaper recently, and it caught our eye as it sounds like the right way to live. This is definitely on our agenda when we finally make it to India.

  14. Never heard of this place before! Sounds really interesting. Would love to see more

  15. nomadicfoot

    this place looks awesome the concept is mind blowing and too good. its like a dream city for because people from all over the world living here. would love to visit as soon as possible.

  16. I planned to visit here when I last went to India. But, although I was based in Tamil Nadu, I just didn’t get the time to travel. Now I am really sad – because it looks amazing

  17. I have been there a few times and I know how amazing that place is but your blog does justice to the place and the tranquility!!

  18. Have hear a lot of Auroville but sadly haven’t been able to visit till now.They are pioneering in Sustainable development and use innovative material saving and cost saving construction techniques which are now being followed nationally.Some of the masons still go to Auroville to learn the trade of sustainable construction.

    • You are right!Actually, They are exploring sustainable living options in all categories

  19. I have never heard of this place before, it kind of reminds me of the city in “The Giver”. This is so cool though! I love the conception of harmony in habitation. Good post.

  20. Wow, quite an interesting concept! It’s like one of those after-earth concepts you only find in movies or TV series. 😉 Your post made me visit their site to learn about it more. I’d love to check this out when I get the chance to visit India!

  21. I just recently found out about Auroville and fell completely in love with the concept and the place. I really want to visit this place one day, either live there for a while or volunteer. No money, no religion or politics. Do you think this concept could work on a larger scale?

    • Rightly said Agnes. I guess if people like me and you who understand the concept, are ready to embrace and experience it, it can be easily applicable on a larger scale

  22. We had never heard of this place, but it sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing, this will be on our minds for future trips

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