Actupondy, the Guide to Pondicherry

What to see and for how many time?

charterAuroville grows in size and monuments over time and the tenacity of Aurovillians. Today the city tries to protect its original ecological spirit, while benefiting of the touristic and cultural financial manna. People coming to Auroville have not the same intentions, the same sensibilities and the same uptime. This is the purpose of this article: according to your time and your desires, we want to present you the major places of Auroville and the time required to go around.

Following our first article about Auroville, Auroville: a story, you certainly know that the project was matured during a long time, areas are in perpetual evolution since more than 45 years, and inhabitants who modelled the city come from different countries and are from all generations. Because of these multiple roots, it takes time to feel the real spirit of Auroville. It's not the monuments that are really important, but the spirit that stands out. Just one day, or even a single afternoon, will allow you to visit the most touristic monuments but you will certainly not realize "the soul" of the place. We advise you to stay several days if you want to completely apprehend the motivations of Aurovillians.

A list of the principal touristic and cultural monuments

visitor center- The Information center and its video room in the Visitor Center: you will find a presentation of Auroville from the Mother project to modern realizations, and a ten minutes chronological movie. It's a good introduction to Auroville.

- Sri Aurobindo exhibition in the Visitor Center: on the first floor, it presents the life and the message of the Indian thinker by a succession of pictures and citations. Meditation music adds to the atmosphere.

- Auroville shop in the Visitor Center: you can find products made by Aurovillian units, from craft articles (sculptures, jewelleries, accessories) to more cultural products (thematic books, Indian clothes).

garden plan- Matrimandir: the "Mother house", a massive and golden sphere sheltering a meditation room entirely in marble. Light comes from a solar beam reverberating in a crystal ball. Beware: there is not a touristic visit of Matrimandir, but a ten-minute access to meditate in the main room. You have to go to the office next to Sri Aurobindo exhibition at least one day before the visit to book a ticket (between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., and from 2 p.m. till 3 p.m.).

- The Matrimandir gardens: the "Mother house" is surrounded by twelve gardens named by different themes: progress, courage, perseverance, humility, sincerity, etc. Matrimandir and gardens represent a flower and its petals. They form the gravity center of Auroville, nicknamed the "peace zone".

- Sri Aurobindo statue: a bronze of the Indian thinker, erected in the center of a pond filled with water lilies, a few hundred meters from the Visitor Center. Guesthouses with gardens are built around this small place.

solar kitchen- The solar kitchen: a kitchen working with the energy of solar beams captured by a mirror! Opened in December 1997, it prepares a thousand vegetarian meals per day, based on local products. Meals are reserved in majority for communities and schools; almost 300 dishes are available for visitors (but only residents of Guesthouses!).

- The house of India: opened in 1982, it's located in the international zone. Housing Auroville administrations in the past, it hosts today cultural activities such as the languages laboratory, the museum of archaeology, the centre of Indian studies and music, dances and painting studios.

- The Tibetan pavilion: the first stone was set by the Dalai Lama itself on Christmas Day, 1993; he had visited Auroville and Pondicherry and met the mother twenty years previously. It's the first pavilion of a foreign country built in the international zone. The building was inaugurated on January 20th, 2009, in the presence of Dalai Lama. It houses exhibitions on Tibetan culture and young monks came in Auroville to follow a specific formation.

If you stay one day in Auroville

As we mentioned in introduction, several days can be required to feel the special atmosphere of the site. If you plan a single-day visit, there are the places we advise you to see: go to the Visitor Center in the morning to learn the story of Sri Aurobindo and his meeting with the Mother, the Auroville philosophy and its physical development, the ideology of inhabitants. At the Information center reception, ask for a pass for the Matrimandir gardens. Choose one of the several restaurants and snacks of the Visitor Center for the lunch. You can enjoy the twelve gardens during the afternoon and wander under the trees. Once you are back to the Visitor Center, take a moment to go to the Auroville shop and buy a souvenir.

If you stay a weekend in Auroville

a walkTwo days seem to be a good time to see the most important places and to start to feel the real spirit of Auroville. Spend your first morning at the Visitor Center to understand the life and the thought of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, to apprehend the ideology behind Auroville and its physical development. Book your Matrimandir ticket for the next day, and then choose one of the restaurants of the place. You can also go to Kuilapalayam village: you will find a bakery (Bakery of Auroville), a pizzeria (Tanto Trattoria pizzeria), a snack (Farm Fresh store), a vegetarian cafeteria (led by the Aurelec community) and a café (Kofi Bar). You can go to the house of India in the afternoon: there are several activities and visits possible! If you want to sleep in Auroville for the night, some Guesthouses are opened here. We advise you to book a room in advance on Internet, at the Guest Accommodation or directly at the Visitor Center. There is a high demand for places during the touristic period!

We recommend you to spend the second-day morning in the Matrimandir. The "visit" of the monument is relatively short: your ticket allows you to enter for a meditation of ten minutes; pictures are forbidden. Once out, wander in the twelve gardens surrounding Matrimandir and enjoy this beautiful area to take some pictures. Several snacks and restaurants are open in the Visitor Center; seize the opportunity to buy some local products at the Auroville shop. You can spend your last afternoon on the Auroville paths with a cycle or a bike, stopping by to see the Sri Aurobindo statue and to go to the Tibetan pavilion. Otherwise, enjoy this last moment to join the Quiet Healing Center and make your choice between all the massages and holistic treatments proposed!

banyan treeThere are other options for these two days. Regard to the philosophy of the place, the discovery of Auroville is not a simple touristic trip; it's also a self-reflection. Auroville Retreat proposes several programs that allow you to alternate between discovering Auroville and a self-discovery. If you want to get off the beaten track, it can be interesting to get in touch with an Aurovillian: he will indicate you the secret places and the good addresses. Here is the contact of Veronique, an inhabitant since fifteen years. She will organize you a personalized tour of Auroville:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 948 851 2768

If you stay a week – or more – in Auroville

There are two kinds of tourists: those who spend one day or two and make a simple tour of the cultural and touristic monuments; those who want to settle down in a community and perceive Auroville as an Aurovillian. Many visitors are in this situation. If you are looking for an original experience, you can book a place within a community: one-week minimum is required in general. There are 80 communities dispersed on the Auroville territory: you have a large choice!

sri aurobindoA daily price is demanded to take over your meals and your bed. For the rest you will be directly integrated in the community and you will take part to its practices: you wake up at dawn with a collective yoga session, then you participate to the manual tasks according to your desires during the morning (reforestation, preparation of the lunch, craft production, etc.). Afternoons are free and you can attend some more activities. If you want to develop your knowledge of the philosophy and the spiritually of Auroville, you can assist to seminars and classes at the Savitri Bhavan. This experience allows appreciating entirely the idea of Auroville: live at the heart of nature with individuals of different nationalities, realize manual labour and be in a favourable place for meditation.

Here are some ideas:

Sadhana Forest
Reforestation works
Phone: 413 267 7682

Farmgroup
Managing organization of Auroville farms
Phone: 413 262 2107

Auroville Guest Service
At the first floor of the solar kitchen, it will give you information about the communities and volunteering
Phone: 413 262 2675
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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