India presents numerous places which are yet to be explored or are among the least visited spots. However, there are some magnificent places such as Auroville which deserve to be on the travelers list. The place has been termed as an “experimental” township and is based near Pondicherry. It offers a mix of both Indian and French culture. Interestingly this township was built and established by Mirra Alfassa who was a popular French spiritualist. Mirra who was crowned the title of “The Mother” was the student of Sri Aurobindo. This place has a couple of must visit attractions which includes the popular Matrimandir along with the Auroville Beach.
Going back in history we would come to know that Auroville was built on the vision to unite humanity. As cited from the 1st public address by Mirra it gets clearer about the objective of building this town. She mentioned in her speech that Auroville was meant to become an universal town where both men and women from any country in the world could live together and be far away from the world of politics, nationalities and creeds. Auroville has been endorsed by the Government of India besides receiving an endorsement from UNESCO as well. The place is home to over 40 nationalities and has a few thousand people residing together.
The township is about 12 kilometers from Northern part of Pondicherry and is in form of a cluster of several properties. Travelling through the East Coast Road that is the connecting highway from Chennai to Pondicherry would be the best route to follow. For the visitors it would be another 6 kilometers from the main township to reach the visitors center and the famous Matrimandir. Travelling east from the turnoff at the East Coast Road would directly reach the Auroville private beach which is also known as Repos. The Auroville Ashram Pondicherry is also among the widely visited locations within the city.
How to Reach Auroville?
In order to reach Auroville one can board the buses plying between Chennai and Pondicherry. Quite many of them pass through the township. After getting down at the turnoff near Auroville, travelers can hire a rickshaw to travel inside the township. The rickshaw and the taxi fare ranges from Rs.250 to Rs.300. Another option to travel here could be taking a taxi directly from Chennai which would cost around Rs.2000. There are several Transport companies that offer their services.
People might even rent scooters from Pondicherry and drive themselves for a trip to Auroville.
Travel around Auroville
Traveling around this area would be great on a motorbike or a cycle. Moreover people may even hire the rickshaws or the taxis to travel around the entire region. For those people who have a guest card with them, they can use it to travel in the community’s bus for free. Ideally hiring a motorbike for Rs.100 for a day or renting bicycles from the guest houses would make the visit fulfilled.
The entire area is quite big and travelling around is far more comfortable. However, when on the roads near the village of Kaluipalayam the motorists might encounter traffic and more people. The Beach Road popularly known as the sea front road has the nearest petrol pump of the area. Moreover at the Kaluipalyam village there are several shops that offer small volumes of petrol for sale.
While travelling the travelers should ensure that they are carrying a fully charged mobile phone and are carrying the contact details of the local place they are staying at. The other thing which is recommended is to travel in groups as possibility of the motorbikes to breakdown is certainly high.
Attractions at Auroville
The township besides its diverse culture and amazing people has two major attractions for every traveler to be at. They are:
The Matrimandir is a Sanskrit name which means “The Temple of The Mother”. It has its own spiritual significance and visitors would definitely be wooed by the silence and large spaces among nature. The place is home to various practitioners for Internal Yoga and is situated in the center of the Auroville Township. Locals here refer this place as the soul of the city and a perfect place to spend time in peace. The temple belongs to no particular sect, group or religion. Building the temple took 37 years which was started in the year 1971. It was finally built in the year 2008 and was available for the visitors to visit. The Matrimandir has a garden in its central peace area and can be visited by the public only through appointment.
The beach is just a few meters from the Auroville bus stop on the East Coast Road. The beach is a spectacular area and is considered to be among the best beaches in the Eastern Coast of India. However, in the recent years with increased travel to the location pollution levels has increased drastically. The locals around the beach are a mix of Europeans and Tamils.
Some other places in the city includes the auroville ashram, and a range of ther buildings that speak about the level of Auroville Architects over the period of time.
What to do at Auroville?
For the peace travelers there are loads of activities to be done at Auroville. Some of the popular activities have been listed below:
- Try out Yoga, Watsu or Tai-Chi to give you a peace of mind. The sessions hear certainly acts as an alternative healing to the travelers.
- Attend the classical Indian Dance performances organized by the Auroville Cultural Exchange. This usually happens during the months of December to March.
- Check out the range of social, environmental, agricultural as well as economic projects which are always going on in the region.
- Visit any or all of the 14 farms at Auroville. Checking out the nearby schools or the environmental restoration projects can be real fun as well.
- If you are a sweet lover then the small shop of the Kottakarai Organic Food Processing is a must visit. The place offers range of cookies besides pasta made out of the local organic ingredients.
All these activities would certainly bring you much closer to the nature.
What’s in store for the shoppers in Auroville?
Like traveling to any other place, buying some of the local specialties is a treat, it would be wise to check out the local markets. Some of the things which you may buy include:
- Hand woven hammocks
- Stone Sculptures which are carved by hands
- Buy some great hippi clothing
- Several innovative electronic products such as the LED headlights, mind machines or the Parasite Zapper.
- For the book lovers do travel to the book house and get some of books on the architecture and history of the local area. Books like “Auroville in a nutshell” is a recommended book to carry on your way back from the location.
Where to eat at Auroville?
Now there are several eating options which are available in Auroville. Some of the popular names are:
- The Solar Kitchen: It is the biggest and the most popular eatery in the area. The specialty is that irrespective of the amount of food one eats, everyone has to pay the same price. The various dishes available here are quite tasty and this actually has served as a great place for new as well as the old friends to meet. If you love to sip in a few cups of coffee or try out different kinds of sandwiches then trying out the La Terrace would be ideal. It is on the upper floor of Solar Kitchen. One of the most distinct things about this place is that they do not accept cash here. So in order to pay your bills you would need your card or you may fill in some cash and obtain a guest card from the visitor’s center. It should be recommended that once you are at this place do not miss out on the amazing ice-creams or the mushroom pasta served here.
- Ganesh Bakery: Now being at this place calls for taking full meals or baked goods. The bakery is quite close to the market beside it. The sumptuous food incredibly serves both the local and some international baked dishes.
- Le Morgan: Quite popular in the area this restaurant is present near the Town Hall. The restaurant serves all kinds of French cuisines where the dishes to try out includes the fresh fishes.
Some of the other places where you can be at and try out the variety of food would be the restaurant at the visitor center, aurelec, new creation corner, paradise pizza, Lhasa Tibetian Restaurant, etc.
Auroville has been promoted as a popular tourist destination near Pondicherry. With increased popularity and its unique traditions the tourists are travelling from various parts of the country and the world. The entire township is in the form of a residential area where there are several guest houses which are available for the tourists. People can stay here for 2-5 days and experience the Aurovillian way of life.
The various kinds of guest accommodation is available as per the budget and the tastes of the visitor. Among the staying options they are classified as beach side, central or the forest area. Moreover, when searched based on comfort levels it is classified as Type A to D where A is the simplest option to stay. Popular guest houses here include the Quite Healing Centre, Cocoon, Evergreen Guesthouse, Creativity Guesthouse, Auroville Beach Resort, etc. The price per stay ranges from just Rs.100 per day to Rs.1500. Besides just paying for your stay you would need to pay the daily contribution costs just like all the other Aurovillans which is spent on maintenance and development of the entire area.
To list down some of the hotels in the area it includes the following names:
- Gaia’s Garden Guest House: Auroville Old Road, Auroville, TN 605101, India Phone:+91413262 2739
- Tenderness Guesthouse: Kuyilapalyam , Auroville, India. Phone: +914132623346 Mobile: +919443535860
- Temple Tree Retreat: Bommalapalayam – Kuilapalayam Road, Opp: Djaima, Kuilapalayam, Auroville, Tamil Nadu 605 101. Phone: +914132623211
- Afsanah Guest House: A G Kottakarai T C Balam Auroville – 605111
- Quiet Healing Center: Auroville 605 104 Tamil Nadu. Phone: +914132622329, +9194880 84966
For many within the country and outside consider Auroville a universal city in the making.