My Rendition of ‘Pondicherry’: Auroville

The first thing that attracted me to Pondicherry was the idea of Auroville itself. The reality of it was more than I had expected and beyond.

Auroville is a self sustaining village located 30 minutes (drive) from Pondicherry on the ECR (East Coast Road). To fathom the idea that is ‘Auroville’ you have to see it and experience it, mere words can’t do justice to the place.

The things we merely give lip-service to: world peace, community living, spiritual life and oneness; they live them.

The idea of Auroville was conceptualized by the enigmatic follower of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, a woman who came seeking truth from France and then became his spiritual partner. This city is built on the principle that it belongs to no one: it belongs to no nation but belongs to the humanity as a whole and the purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.

Charter of Auroville

Lofty sounding goals yes, but they appear achievable here.

Human Unity

Human Unity

It is a universal town where people from every nationality can live; they are referred to as Aurovilleans and not as Indian, Dutch, Spanish or Italian. Their country doesn’t define them.

Matrimandir: Soul of Auroville  

The spiritual connotations indicate that this ‘temple’ does not belong to any religion or sect. It is a common meditation place. The energy I felt inside the dome is indescribable.

They do not believe in any particular religion or belief, nor do they negate the prevailing beliefs. The University of Human Unity in Auroville is attempting to understand the conception and idea of the universe we live in. It is an intriguing undertaking; I really hope they find the answers to all those hauntingly elusive questions. Cameras weren’t allowed inside so I will make do with the pictures I took at the Visitor’s Center ( and the reality is even better)

The Dome

The Dome

The Inner Chamber

The Inner Chamber

A Solar Kitchen:

Besides the fact, that most of the food here is organically grown. There is a solar kitchen where the food is entirely cooked on solar energy. Doesn’t this sound fascinating? And yes, it was.

But, eating there without a reservation can get quite tricky. So, if you plan to eat here make up your mind in advance and make a reservation.

Inside View of the Kitchen

Inside View of the Kitchen

Solar Kitchen

Varied and Authentic Cuisine:

There might be a gazillion places that brag about this. But, in Auroville, a French restaurant is run by a French person, an Italian restaurant by an Italian and most definitely a Greek restaurant by a Greek. The bakeries and patisseries had the most amazing pies and cakes. An Italian dessert, Panna Cotta, caught my fancy; it simply melted in my mouth. It was an exquisite specimen of baking.

A Learning Escapade:

Everywhere you look, you will find pottery classes, dancing classes, yoga classes, language classes etc. The local school which generally has the local Tamil population has greatly benefitted in terms of exposure and teachers. Aurovilleans spend time teaching at the school. A lot of international students come to Auroville for internships and take up community work; some even teach and get involved at this school.

Architecture:

Since Auroville claims to live beyond the usual norms of society and its expectations, the architectural landscape reflects this belief. It is an architect’s haven and has been attracting architecture students from all over the world. If you can create it; flaunt it… is their motto. The city centre and the buildings have a neo look and feel; they are oriented towards the environment and since the basic thrust is towards community living that can be seen in the designs.

Even the landscaping is supposedly man-made.

Inside Auroville

Inside Auroville

Beautiful, isn’t it?

 

 

My Rendition of ‘Pondicherry’:The Gastronomic Trail

No travel is complete without experimenting with the local Cuisine. Pondicherry brags to have the French cuisine, the Indo- French cuisine and the South Indian cuisine .The added advantage of being a coastal area gives it a foothold on sea food as well. Honestly, I am a conventional non- vegetarian, as I am allergic to red meat and I don’t relish sea food, so that leaves me with not much choice save Chicken. Fortunately, the French Bakeries had amazing things to choose from. I devoured at many places but make a mention of a few places I liked below:

Le Space- Yolande’s Kitchen

This Café looked very homely and inviting with a Bohemian setting. There was something very endearing about a young boy carrying the huge menu board around; there were no typed menus!  The Menu for the day had Petit Pate, Shrimps and Julienne de Legumes as starters. The place was crowded and rushed, it being 31st of December. Yolande came to take our order when I explained my conventional non-vegetarian taste but I insisted that I wanted to have a good French Dish – he sent the cook to speak to us. The cook made a wonderful chicken dish. He made chicken in wine and some weird sounding French sauce (I don’t remember the name) with rice. He also sautéed vegetables on the side. Though it doesn’t sound much, but trust me; this was one of the best meals I have had in a long time. Perhaps, it was the celebratory air or the ambiance which did the trick, but it was amazing!

Yolande had called a French Salsa teacher, Fred Lassere, who was teaching the people how to dance. So it was a wonderful way to welcome the New Year.

Anyone looking for an unassuming place which is not ostentatious but has good food must surely come here.

Le Café

Anybody visiting Pondicherry can’t miss this Café on the Promenade. The best part is that it is open 24 hours, and the outside sitting area is so close to the sea that you can enjoy the sea waves crashing with your cup of coffee. There was something ethereal about the sight of the magnificent sun rising from the sea, after witnessing the glorious sun rise we walked into the Café for Breakfast. Sipping my coffee and biting into my croissant with the sound of waves as the music, was a scene out of my own dream-book.

Tanto’s

This restaurant is in Auroville. The first thing you notice here is the Huuuuge clay oven being used to bake fresh pizzas. The menu has French dishes also, but basically this place specializes in Italian. The dessert, Panna Cotta with chocolate sauce was delectably delicious. Auroville has many good restaurants with authentic cuisine.

Café Daily Bread

The best part about this place was its narrow gallery overlooking the street. It is a French patisserie but also offers a food menu. Surprisingly, their Biryani was very good.

Café Coffee.com

I can’t finish my trail without mentioning this Café. The heavy woodwork inside is worth admiring. This place is run by a Family. Where the father does most of the cooking including making his own ice- cream. This Café has its own cyber area, where you can sip your fragrant beverage while checking your email.

However, Beware you are forbidden to wear your foot-gear inside. So if you don’t mind removing your shoes and hanging out, this is the place to be!

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