When I was in 12th std, My physics teacher told our class about a town in India called Auroville. He said this was a Unique town and everyone must visit it once in their lifetime if you are really of some quality time in “peace”. At that moment, I wondered why would he specifically mention peace here until I came across this place on my own. The town of Auroville is indeed an Extraordinary Place where one can find different nationalities living together leaving behind their caste, ethnicity, and politics to live with peace and stability. India is a place with diverse ethos and dialects, and Auroville town stands as the unique cherry on this diverse region.
Table of Contents
- Where is Auroville?
- History of Auroville
- Places to visit in Auroville
- Auroville Beach
- Savitri Bhavan
- Adi-Shakti Theatre
- Kala Kendra
- Life in Auroville
- Activities to do in Auroville
- Visit the rejuvenating ambience of the Botanical Garden
- Watch a show at Cinema paradise
- Help yourself relax in the Youth Centre
- Take a tour of the Cultural Pavilion
- Cycling through the Lush roads
- Take a Healing session and therapy via healing centres.
- Shopping and Food in Auroville streets.
- Cafes and Restaurant
- Shopping marts and stores
- Organic farm foods
- Auroville visitor centre
- The Free Store
Where is Auroville?
Popularly known as the City of Dawn, Auroville is an Experimental town located in the Viluparram District of Tamil Nadu. However, some parts of the Auroville can also be found in the Union territory Pondicherry. It is 152 km away from Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital.
History of Auroville
The conception of Auroville dates back to the time when two spiritually awakened minds met in March 1914. These two minds were Sri Aurobindo, an Indian Philosopher and nationalist and Mirra Alfasaa referred to as “The mother”, another Spiritual guru. The Mother met Sri Aurobindo when he took a refugee in the then French colonised region of Pondicherry. She was extremely inspired by the principles of Sri Aurobindo regarding Cultural collusion and Unity among the world population. After the death of Sri Aurobindo in 1950, The Mother decided to bring this vision into reality by creating a town with the help of the architect, Roger Anger. Interestingly, she was 90 when the work began and on the 28th of Feb,1968 the township was inaugurated. One of the most fascinating incidences of the Auroville is the marble-clad urn at the Amphitheatre where people from 124 countries including Indians from 23 States had laid soil brought from their motherland, to signify that Auroville belongs to none but Humanity. In 1966, the United Nations recognized the purpose of the Auroville town as a commendable step towards humanity, Sustainability and Unity.
Since then the Town is thriving as an abode of Sustainability, Humanity and Universal brotherhood. No matter who is in the government, the Auroville town has seen substantial development with pretty town halls, oddly looking school buildings, Parks and farms, and single-storied houses. Today, around 50,000 people are living in Auroville as residents.
However, the growth of Auroville did face hindrances when in 1973, the residents of the town has conflicts with its parent organisation, Sri Aurobindo Society. The conflict was, later on, got solved when the Indian Government stepped in. In 1988, The Parliament unanimously passed an Auroville foundation act to safeguard the autonomy of the town and make the township a legal entity.
Places to Visit in Auroville
Auroville is a blend of Spirituality and Nature. The town is filled with Youth centres, Botanical gardens, Spiritual Centers, Community halls, and Green Parks. Here are some of the most fascinating locations that you must visit while travelling to Auroville.
Matrimandir is the Sanksrit word for “Mother’s Temple” and is widely regarded as the Soul of the City. Situated in the middle of the town in an area known as PEACE, The Matrimandur holds an important place for those who are indulged in Spiritual Yoga and divine practices and invites a lot of visitors from Pondicherry. However, Matrimandir is not a tourist place and those visitors who are interested in learning briefly about the town of Auroville. Surrounded by twelve green lush gardens, Matrimandir is a golden dome-like structure. Because of its structure and design, Matrimandir is also known as the Golden Globe of Pondicherry. Visitors can travel to Matrimandir from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on Sundays, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Arka is a wellness centre where you can relax and practise Yoga. You can also take up other activities like physiotherapy, acupuncture, and craniosacral. You can also enjoy beauty sessions including pedicures and manicures. Seminars are held at regular intervals.
3. Auroville Beach
Auroville Beach, also known as Auro beach is a part of Auroville Ashram and is 10 km away from Pondicherry. The beach lies on the right-hand side of the east coast road. To maintain its serenity and its original Natural form, the Ashram has made sure that the beach has a very less number of food stalls. This is one of the most popular beaches in Pondicherry attracting hundreds of visitors every year.
4. Savitri Bhavan
Savitri Bhavan is a unique centre dedicated to fostering the Visions of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and envisions the theme and ideas of Auroville. Savitri Bhavan works to experience the divinity of the lord through nature and its components. Savitri Bhavan has all types of activities in its atmosphere to create a better understanding and consciousness regarding the Aurobindo’s mantra epic “Savitri: a legend and a symbol” which the Mother had referred to as ‘the supreme revelation of the Sri Aurobindo’s vision.
5. Adi-Shakti Theatre
located on the outskirts of Pondicherry, Adishakti is a laboratory for Theatre arts research and is a performing art company which also provides accommodation and other facilities. The theatre is known for its innovative and thought-provoking performances.
6. Kala Kendra
Kala Kendra is a cultural hub where art forms from all over India are exhibited. Artists from Pan India are invited to Kala Kendra to stay and share their art forms. The main aim of the Kala Kendra is to conduct research and studies on various art forms and cultures and their contemporary appearance through exhibitions, Visual shows, workshops and exchanges. They work to create an ambience for the growth of the community of the artists.
Several Art shows have been conducted in the Kala Kendra. Gallery square circle is the main attraction in Kala Kendra where all the Art Exhibitions take place. The best time to visit Kala Kendra is from July to March when the climate is warm yet fresh and is good for art exhibitions. Timings to visit Kala Kendra are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Svaram means voice in Sanskrit. Svaram is a sound garden in Auroville which is a hub of classic musical instruments to bring together the Traditional music ethos along with the international musicology and research and contemporary studies. However, this is not a regular music store and research centre but rather an amusing one. The reason is that it has handmade musical instruments made by the locals and that too with unique sounds produced through them. There is a “litho stone”, a hearing tube from which we can hear voices at distances and a humming stone where you can put your head in the hole and hear your humming voices. Inside the Svaram, you can witness many classical instruments and their multiple types. For example, there are 5 types of wind chimes which represent the five elements of nature ie, fire, water, space, air and soil. One of the most interesting parts of Svaram is the Sound therapy provided by the locals working there. All you need to do is make an appointment before your visit so that you can have a hassle-free healing session.
Life in Auroville
Auroville is not owned by a single but, rather by the Auroville foundation which is owned by the Government of India. Auroville is an amalgamation of Research centres where multiple types of research take place on various subjects which affect Human existence and evolution. Every Aurovillian (residents of Auroville are referred to by this name) has to contribute to the betterment of the town. They are involved in several activities which are some of the other ways spiritual or sustainable or developmental. Afforestation, Organic farms, Educational and healthcare research, town planning and construction, Yoga and meditation etc.
One interesting fact about Auroville is that it is a cashless town! No, I don’t mean to say they don’t carry cash but instead of regular currency used in the rest of India, they use a certain type of card called Aurocard through which they make most of their transaction. It is not a necessity for the travels to carry an aurocard as except for some places, Cash is accepted everywhere. One can get his Aurocard from the guest house where they are staying.
Activities to do in Auroville
For travellers, There are multiple activities that they can indulge in. Here is a short snippet of all the pastimes you can enjoy while you are strolling through the lanes of Auroville!
1. Visit the Rejuvenating Ambience of the Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden was established in a 44-acre yard to conserve and preserve the disappearing tropical dry Evergreen forest of the coromandel coast in South India. This yard has turned into a dense landscape where various studies on environmental sustainability and land management are done. There are 310 species of trees, 5500 specimens planted on 10 acres of land and 50,000 saplings of tropical dry evergreen forest in a separate nursery.
The Green zone can be explored by anyone. You can also buy plant saplings from the garden shop. The visiting times lie between 10 am to 5 pm every day. One has to pay a fee to visit the garden which is only 20 while for kids it’s 5rs. Other than that there is a toy train centre inside the garden premises where you have to pay Rs 10 for adults and Rs 5 for Children.
2. Watch a Show at Cinema Paradise
The multimedia centre of Auroville, known as Cinema Paradiso is 120 seat theatre where movies are screened on regular basis. The Multimedia auditorium is located at the town hall complex near Matrimandir road.
Not just Hindi and Tamil films, but Movies from all the regional industries such as Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam etc are screened. Live performances and seminars are also held in the paradise where you can participate. On many occasions, thematic films are also screened in the theatre.
3. Help Yourself Relax in the Youth Centre
Belonging to a generation that is continuously hustling can be tiresome and sometimes also leads to fatigue. In this scenario, it is important to indulge in activities that can be your go-to for stress buster. Fortunately, Auroville has a Youth centre where people, especially from a Youth age can come and get involved in activities such as gardening and kitchen activities. These mediocre activities help them in learning various skills while also helping them take a break from the regular hectic routine. You can just go to the centre which is located behind the town hall and can register yourself with any of the activities you have curiosity in. Time hours are flexible.
4. Take a Tour of the Cultural Pavilion
As you are well aware of the fact that Auroville represents multiple nations as citizens from all over the world and India resides in it. The Cultural Pavilion represents the nations and their cultures to create consciousness regarding ” Unity in Diversity”. Every year, several pavilions held exhibitions and displays to showcase their continents and countries’ cultures expressing Unity in Diversity.
5. Through the Lush Roads
Cycling in Auroville is one of the best activities you can do as you can explore every corner of Auroville as per your liking while using sustainable and pollution-free transport. There are several options in the region from where you can get a bicycle and ride. Also, you can rent motorised 2-wheeler bikes in and around Auroville to travel if you get tired easily on a cycle.
6. Take a Healing Session and Therapy via Healing Centres.
Everyday life can be stressful, Auroville offers you some healing centres where you can take a break and relax. There is a health spa in Auroville which offers you a variety of services that can help you relax and resuscitate. Moreover, The Health spa, also known as the Quiet healing centre is located at the backdrop of the beach which provides you with an ambience that can add to your healing therapy.
Another place where you can go and have a meditation session is Peace Tables. This unique table was crafted by George Nakashima as a symbol of peace and harmony among mankind. This is made out of 300-year-old eastern black walnut wood one of which is kept in the hall of peach in Auroville. People can come and meditate here as means of attaining peace and relaxation around this table on weekly basis.
7. Shopping and Food in Auroville Streets.
The best part of any trip is shopping when you can buy things around that act as a memoir of your holiday when you go back. Auroville offers you a variety of stores where you can buy organic and aesthetic stuff.
Along with that, Tasty food is a must. Oroville serves the best blend of cuisine from all over the world. Here is a list of shops and cafes where you can go and have as per your liking.
Cafes and Restaurant
These cafeterias and restaurants can offer you a variety of breakfasts that is healthy and flavorful. They provide breakfast, lunch and dinner along with desserts and snacks.
- La terrace (only aurocard accepted)
- Dreamer’s cafe
- Marc’s cafe
- Auroville bakery
- Richie rich
- Neem tree cafe (only GPay accepted)
- Bread and chocolate (you can also buy organic products from here. They have a unique variety of jams, cheese, chocolates, drinks and spreads.)
- Sakura Sushi
- Secret Garden
Shopping Marts and Stores
The list of items you can buy from Auroville is wide and varied. From house products to candle lights to clothes and organic farm foods, Auroville has a variety of products that are sustainable and affordable. Check out the list of commodities that you must check out when visiting Auroville.
1. Organic farm foods
- Solitude farm
- Solar kitchen
2. Auroville Visitor Centre
Established in 1988, Auroville visitor centre invites dozens of visitors every year owing to its Shops and restaurants. There are several shops in this centre where you can buy anything from garments to accessories to gifts and home decor. One special thing about these products is that they are locally produced. Here are some best shops at Auroville Visitor centre:
- Kalki Boutique
- Mira Boutique
- Upasana (You can buy palazzos pants, tops and tunics)
- La boutique de’Auroville
3. The Free Store
Clear from the Name itself, The free store in Auroville is a unique store where you can take any stuff for Free! Interesting right? People can come, take whatever they like, write a note and go. In the note, they need to mention the product they have taken and their name. The free store is affiliated with many local businesses of clothes like Upasana in Auroville. They are also involved in tailoring new outfits and repairing older ones. The free store is open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm whereas on Tuesday and Saturday it opens from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM.
The best time to visit Auroville is from December to March and July to September.
Oroville offers multiple guest houses, lounges and hotels to stay however they get booked very fast during visiting months. Hence, the best way to find a location is by asking about the Guest house directly or by booking the hotel before your visit. You can drop in the email to look for email@example.com
Here is list of guesthouses and lounges where one can stay while enjoying their trip to auroville.
- Mohini guest house
- Auromode apartments
- Selvaraj guest house
- Lotus guest house
- Afsanah guest house
- Moonglow garden guest house
- Casa Luna guest house
- Tanto far beach guest house
- Isai ambalam guest house
- Moongate guest house.