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.
Lofty sounding goals yes, but they appear achievable here.
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)
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.
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.
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.