Auroville

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Matrimandir

Auroville is a small town 6 km north of Pondicherry. This town was a vision of The Mother from Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry as it's an international town. She envisioned a town where unity will be celebrated and all will have a spiritual vocation. At the moment, in July 2010, 2200 people from 43 different countries are living in the city. About 40% are Indians (more than 15% are French and 15% are German).

Auroville Handbook is the official guide to Auroville that can be bought in the Visitors' center and the bookshops around or Auroville's website. A map of the town can be bought in Pondicherry at the Boutique de Auroville and at the visitors center in Auroville.

Get in[edit]

By Rickshaw (Rs 150-200) or Taxi (Rs 240) from Pondicherry. Many buses between Chennai and Pondicherry pass the turn off to Auroville - you can get down here and into one of the waiting rickshaws at the junction.

You can also take a taxi from Chennai Airport. It costs Rs. 1700 (apporox USD 38.00) (price quoted December 2010. If you call a taxi service in advance: +91-413-2622400 AV Transport, +91 413 2623200 Auro Cabs, +91 413 2623586 Om Travel (companies are run by Auroville township near Puducherry), they will be at the Arrivals exit with a sign with your name on it.

You can also rent scooters in Pondicherry and drive yourself for a day trip or arrange to keep the scooter for a few days or more.

Get around[edit]

Best by motorbike, also possible by bicycle. Rickshaws and taxis can be ordered for trips out of the town. If you have a guest card than you can use the community's bus to Pondicherry (for free).

You can hire motorbikes for Rs 50-100 per day and in some guesthouses you'll get a bicycle for free or a small daily fee with your rent.


Auroville is very spread out and large, so if you want to get around freely, rent a scooter or motorbike.

The challenging part is navigating the busier roads in around the village of Kaluipalayam, the largest Tamil village in or near Auroville. In addition to other motorbikes, you will encounter pedestrians, bicycles, cows, dogs, small tour buses, and the occasional ox cart loaded with hay. Traffic can be heavy at dusk, when the herds of cows head home and everybody else seems trying to get some place else.

Remember to stay on the left and look both ways before turning or crossing a road. If you make a right turn, be sure to end up on the left side of your new road.

The nearest petrol station is on the sea front road (aka the Beach Road) just north of the Auroville turnoff. If you find yourself low while in Kaluipalayam village, a few of the shops have 1 liter water bottles filled with petrol for sale. Petrol goes a long way, but keep an eye on the level because running out can be very inconvenient and possibly unsafe.

Always travel with a charged cellphone, and know how to use it to call your moped supplier, your guest house, and your fellow travellers. Motorbikes have a way of breaking down or not starting, so it's better to travel in pairs or groups. That way you can always catch a ride on the back some someone else's bike.

See[edit]

Savitri Bhawan
  • Matrimandir - Meaning "Temple of the Mother" in Sanskrit, this is the geographical and spiritual heart of Auroville. The outside is plated with gold, while the inside is stark white with a gigantic crystal in the center.
Check with the visitor center if you're interested in seeing the inside of the temple - the rules can be very strict, and it may take 2 days or so before you actually get inside (you've been warned!). You'll first need a visitors pass for a little guided tour of one of the meditation chambers, and once you've done that you qualify to visit the inside of the main temple the following day. Saturday and Sunday can be particularly busy and you may need to wait in line for 30-40 minutes. Bags, cell phones and cameras are not allowed in the temple.
Auroville's birthday celebration
If you have a guest card you can get a pass valid for all the days of your stay, otherwise you'll get a one day pass. Aurovilians can also take you in as a guest, though this isn't likely unless you have friends there.
  • Auro Beach - Located at walking distance from the Auroville Busstop on ECR (East Coast Road), Auro Beach is considered one of the best beaches on India's Eastern Coastline although it is still very polluted. Most of the people found on the beach are either Europeans or Tamils.
Auro Beach

Do[edit]

One of the various architectural experiments

There are a lot of activities in Auroville like Yoga, Tai-Chi, Watsu, different kinds of alternative healing and courses. The variety is wider during the visitors' season (December to March), such as attending the classical Indian dance performances of young virtuosos organized by Auroville Cultural Exchange. There is a plethora of social/economic/environmental/agricultural projects going on regularly. Many of them welcome tourists, and many tourists welcome the opportunity to spend a week or more volunteering to get a much more intimate look at what goes inside Auroville. There are at least 14 farms in Auroville, any of which will take daily volunteers. There are also many schools that can accommodate volunteers, environmental restoration projects, and village action initiatives, just to name a few. Kottakarai Organic Food Processing Unit is a small little shop that makes things like cookies and pasta from local and organic ingredients in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is located next to Ganesh Bakery, a cafe/restaurant that is popular with tourists.

Buy[edit]

  • Hand woven hammocks
  • Hand carved stone sculptures, including some erotic works
  • Cool hippy clothing, but be sure to bargain hard on them as prices are set high in Auroville.
  • LED Headlights,Parasite Zapper, Mind machines with Innovation unlimited,Silence.
  • Books about Auroville - the idea, the architecture, the mother,... (Bookshop at the Visitor's Center). "Auroville in a nutshell" is a great booklet to start with for about Rs 50.
  • AuroVelo Bicycle spares, service, Decathlon products, coffee and cakes
  • Mira Computers, Aurelec Computer, laptop, smartphone service and sales
  • Maroma, Kalki Natural home fragrance and body care products (Incense, Reed Difusers, Soaps, Perfumes, Candles, Bath Salts, Shampoos, Body Lotions, Creams, Massage Oils and Essential Oils.)

Eat[edit]

  • The Solar Kitchen is the main cafeteria and most popular place to eat. Everyone pays the same price - no matter how much you actually eat. The food is really yummy and it's a great place to met people! Upstairs you can find the cafe La Terrace serving coffees, salads, sandwiches and changing international dishes. It should be noted that both do not accept cash: you must apply for a guest card at the visitor's centre, fill it with credit, and pay using that account. Both, La Terrace and the Solar Kitchen try to use organic products whenever they can! At La Terrace try the delicious mushroom pasta with egg and don't miss out on the amazing ice-cream!!
  • Ganesh Bakery is very popular, serving full meals and baked goods, with a well-stocked market attached.
  • Visitor Centre has an excellent cafe with daily specials and a wide range of Indian and European food including great vegetarian food, drinks and desserts.
  • Le Morgan at the Town Hall is a French restaurant which is open for lunch and also some dinners, please check. They often serve delicious fresh fish.
  • Repos cafe is situated on the beach and has amazing salads, check out sunbliss salad or the houmous platter. It is open to people staying in Auroville and is closed on Mondays and open til 5 every other day.
  • Aurelec serves breakfast and a wonderful buffet lunch for a fixed price of mainly north Indian food. It is also an art gallery.
  • New Creation Corner is on the main round from the beach to Matrimandir and serves great vegetarian dishes, crepes and has a great atmosphere.
  • Paradise Pizza is an amazing pizza restaurant where the pizzas are cooked on a clay oven and taste delicious. They also offer some daily specials of pasta.
  • Solitude offer a vegan meal cooked from produce on the farm. This is available at lunch times and you must book in advance and make a donation.
  • Lhasa Tibetan Restaurant a family restaurant on the main road into Auroville center, at right hand (surrounded by some Pizza places). Don't be scared, the house looks unpromising from the outside, but the place is actually very spacious and the food is amazing and affordable too.
  • Kofibar a sweet and funky little cafe near the Auroville Bakery (just ask). It's a locally driven project that works with the Sapney Permaculture Farm and is locally minded. They serve fresh food and have wifi. Ask for Snehal if you want to get involved.

Sleep[edit]

Bharat Niwas

There are more than 450 beds in different guesthouses in Auroville, and many more in the non-Aurovilian hotels around the township, which are generally less expensive. The best way is to go to the visitors' center [1] in Auroville and browse through their book in which you can see the rooms and get details about them. Prices range from Rs 150-4100 per person per day.

Some well know guest houses include Aspiration(with great food) , Shranga, Verite, Youth Camp(cheap), Gratitude(with about 40 peacocks in the garden).

Overnight guests in Auroville's guest houses are expected to pay a daily contribution of Rs 100 (30 for students), which is often included in the guesthouse rate. For this contribution you receive a Guest Card which allows you to use the services of Auroville, like the Solar Kitchen, classes and some shops.

December through February is the guests' season - the busiest time in Auroville. Plan your trip in advance for this period.

Go next[edit]

You can take a taxi to Chennai airport for Rs. 2500 from Auroville. Or you can take a taxi to Pondicherry bus station for Rs. 200, then take a regular bus for Rs. 175 to Tambaram , cross the highway through an underground and get a train connection from there to Chennai Airport for Rs. 4 (just a few kilometers away).

From Allankuppan,Kottakarai village westside Aurovills every 30 min a bus go to Pondi over Kootroad,where you can enter a bus to Tindivanam,Tirruvanumalai,Chennai. Often the bus is already full.Its safer to go to Pondi. The bus is 5 Rs The same problem you face on the ECR (East cost road) if you catch a bus to chennai.

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