The first time I visited Auroville was in 1998. I was merely in the eighth standard when my grandma held my hands and took me to see the Matrimandir, which according to her was a must see place. The place was still in the construction phase at that time, the construction of the Matrimandir was still on process. I could see huge golden plates being put on a huge globe.
As a 13 year old, I was quite awestruck with the architecture. So was I, when we entered the meditation chamber in the Matrimandir. The serene atmosphere had an indelible effect on my mind. Though I did not truly appreciated the essence of Matrimandir at that time, but somewhere back in my mind, it stayed. 15 years hence, when I went to Chennai for work, the first thing that came to my mind was I have to visit Auroville.
Auroville is a township formed by the vision of Sri Aurobinda Ghosh and Mira Aalfassa, fondly and reverently called the Mother. Designed by architect Roger Anger, Auroville is truly an international township having residents from almost 140 countries and all states of India. The soul of this spiritual place is the Matrimandir. The temple symbolises humanity and does not represent any religion. It follows the vision of The Mother. According to her “The failure of religions is… because they were divided. They wanted people to be religious to the exclusion of other religions, and every branch of knowledge has been a failure because it has been exclusive.”
Auroville is a complete city in itself. You can see people from various countries roaming around. There is a Visitor’s centre where you can get all the information about the place. You should visit the exhibition hall first to get a true glimpse of Auroville.
The temple looks of a huge golden ball from far. The bright exterior is contrasted by a cool, serene, pure white interior. The top most floor has the meditation room, with one crystal ball right at the centre illuminated by a ray of light from the roof. This is a place to concentrate, to forget one’s woes. Silence is the greatest teacher here. The silence here teaches, heals and helps us connect to our consciousness. Even if you are not into meditation, just sitting there is a transcending experience The Matrimandir had left me wonderstruck at 13 and it still holds a special place in my heart.
Auroville has a host of community programmes where a visitor can take part. Various workshops on painting, dance, music, pottery making, art are held in Auroville where a visitor can volunteer and work as an intern. The visitors can volunteer to work in Auroville farms. In the forest zone of Auroville is located the Sadhana Forest which also has a volunteering programme that aims at reforestation of severely eroded land. Learning and volunteering here can itself be a unique experience. Auroville has been a hub of sustainability and eco practices. Plastic bottles and bags have been used for beautification purposes. Visitors can also undergo wellness therapies and workshop.
Visit to Auroville is always a rejuvenating experience. To me Auroville is not just a place, but an idea, a destination where you can connect with your inner self.
Some Essential Facts about Auroville:
How to reach:
It is 12 km from Pondicherry.
Where to stay:
There are a few guest houses to stay here. To move around, renting a bike is the best option.
Other than the visitor’s centre, no restaurants and cafes accept cash. You get to make an Auro Card which can be used for purchases.
Places to visit:
The Auroville Beach