Auroville

Matrimandir

Auroville is a small town 6 km north of Pondicherry. This town was a vision of The Mother from Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry as it's an international town. She envisioned a town where unity will be celebrated and all will have a spiritual vocation. At the moment, in July 2010, 2200 people from 43 different countries are living in the city. About 40% are Indians (more than 15% are French and 15% are German).

Auroville Handbook is the official guide to Auroville that can be bought in the Visitors' center and the bookshops around or Auroville's website. A map of the town can be bought in Pondicherry at the Boutique de Auroville and at the visitors center in Auroville.

Inukshuk Marking at Auroville
Auroville Road

Understand

The city was designed by architect Roger Anger. The township of 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. Auroville was founded as a project of the Sri Aurobindo in 1968 by his disciple Mirra Alfassa, popularly called "The Mother". About 2,000 people from 50 countries live in this artificial village. Half of them are Indians and there are some 300 French people, 200 Germans and 150 Italians.

Get in

Auroville is 16 km by bus from Pondicherry and 163 km by bus from Chennai. Trains are also available and they take six hours. The nearest airports are at Pondicherry, 11 km and Chennai, 142 km.

Tibetan Centre @ Auroville
The Great Banyan Tree of Auroville

By Rickshaw (₹150-₹200) or Taxi (₹240) from Pondicherry. Many buses between Chennai and Pondicherry pass the turn off to Auroville - you can get down here and into one of the waiting rickshaws at the junction.

You can also take a taxi from Chennai Airport. It costs ₹1700 (apporox USD 38.00) (price quoted December 2010. If you call a taxi service in advance: +91-413-2622400 AV Transport, +91 413 2623200 Auro Cabs, +91 413 2623586 Om Travel (companies are run by Auroville township near Puducherry), they will be at the Arrivals exit with a sign with your name on it.

You can also rent scooters in Pondicherry and drive yourself for a day trip or arrange to keep the scooter for a few days or more.

Get around

Best by motorbike, also possible by bicycle. Rickshaws and taxis can be ordered for trips out of the town. If you have a guest card than you can use the community's bus to Pondicherry (for free).

You can hire motorbikes for ₹50-₹100 per day and in some guesthouses you'll get a bicycle for free or a small daily fee with your rent.

Everything is within a five km distance and walking is one of the best option here.

Auroville is very spread out and large, so if you want to get around freely, rent a scooter or motorbike.

The challenging part is navigating the busier roads in around the village of Kaluipalayam, the largest Tamil village in or near Auroville. In addition to other motorbikes, you will encounter pedestrians, bicycles, cows, dogs, small tour buses, and the occasional ox cart loaded with hay. Traffic can be heavy at dusk, when the herds of cows head home and everybody else seems trying to get some place else.

Remember to stay on the left and look both ways before turning or crossing a road. If you make a right turn, be sure to end up on the left side of your new road.

The nearest petrol station is on the sea front road (aka the Beach Road) just north of the Auroville turnoff. If you find yourself low while in Kaluipalayam village, a few of the shops have 1 liter water bottles filled with petrol for sale. Petrol goes a long way, but keep an eye on the level because running out can be very inconvenient and possibly unsafe.

Always travel with a charged cellphone, and know how to use it to call your moped supplier, your guest house, and your fellow travellers. Motorbikes have a way of breaking down or not starting, so it's better to travel in pairs or groups. That way you can always catch a ride on the back some someone else's bike.

See

Savitri Bhawan

This is circular structure with a golden metallic sphere in the center. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as "a place to find one's consciousness". Matrimandir is equipped with a solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens. When there is no sun or after the sunset, the sunray on the globe is replaced by a beam from a solar powered light.

Check with the visitor center if you're interested in seeing the inside of the temple - the rules can be very strict, and it may take 2 days or so before you actually get inside (you've been warned!). You'll first need a visitors pass for a little guided tour of one of the meditation chambers, and once you've done that you qualify to visit the inside of the main temple the following day. Saturday and Sunday can be particularly busy and you may need to wait in line for 30-40 minutes. Bags, cell phones and cameras are not allowed in the temple.
Auroville's birthday celebration
If you have a guest card you can get a pass valid for all the days of your stay, otherwise you'll get a one day pass. Aurovilians can also take you in as a guest, though this isn't likely unless you have friends there.
Auro Beach

Do

One of the various architectural experiments

There are a lot of activities in Auroville like Yoga, Tai-Chi, Watsu, different kinds of alternative healing and courses. The variety is wider during the visitors' season (December to March), such as attending the classical Indian dance performances of young virtuosos organized by Auroville Cultural Exchange. There is a plethora of social/economic/environmental/agricultural projects going on regularly. Many of them welcome tourists, and many tourists welcome the opportunity to spend a week or more volunteering to get a much more intimate look at what goes inside Auroville. There are at least 14 farms in Auroville, any of which will take daily volunteers. There are also many schools that can accommodate volunteers, environmental restoration projects, and village action initiatives, just to name a few. Kottakarai Organic Food Processing Unit is a small little shop that makes things like cookies and pasta from local and organic ingredients in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is located next to Ganesh Bakery, a cafe/restaurant that is popular with tourists.

Buy

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Bharat Niwas

There are more than 450 beds in different guesthouses in Auroville, and many more in the non-Aurovilian hotels around the township, which are generally less expensive. The best way is to go to the visitors' center in Auroville and browse through their book in which you can see the rooms and get details about them. Prices range from ₹150-₹4100 per person per day.

Some well know guest houses include Aspiration(with great food) , Shranga, Verite, Youth Camp(cheap), Gratitude(with about 40 peacocks in the garden).

Overnight guests in Auroville's guest houses are expected to pay a daily contribution of ₹100 (₹30 for students), which is often included in the guesthouse rate. For this contribution you receive a Guest Card which allows you to use the services of Auroville, like the Solar Kitchen, classes and some shops.

December through February is the guests' season - the busiest time in Auroville. Plan your trip in advance for this period.

Go next

You can take a taxi to Chennai airport for ₹2500 from Auroville. Or you can take a taxi to Pondicherry bus station for ₹200, then take a regular bus for ₹175 to Tambaram , cross the highway through an underground and get a train connection from there to Chennai Airport for ₹4 (just a few kilometers away).

From Allankuppan,Kottakarai village westside Aurovills every 30 min a bus go to Pondi over Kootroad,where you can enter a bus to Tindivanam,Tirruvanumalai,Chennai. Often the bus is already full.Its safer to go to Pondi. The bus is ₹5. The same problem you face on the ECR (East cost road) if you catch a bus to chennai.

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