Imagine a city without cars, traffic and concrete roads. Houses hidden in small pockets surrounded by tall trees and vegetation. Growing every vegetable in your backyard and harvesting them for your food. Sounds like an Utopian city of bygone era but make no mistake such a city exists and it is called Auroville, located in Pondicherry in Tamilnadu.
I did know about it
I had heard the name “Auroville” during my education in Architecture College. The city has earned itself a great name amongst the architectural community not only by its sustainable ways of design but also construction. With the same notion in my mind I went there with a few friends of mine. Our objective was not to explore Auroville as a city but as a culture.
The vision of Auroville
The inspiration for Auroville, together with spiritual guidance given for its realization, comes from Sri Aurobindo. His spiritual collaborator the Mother (French, born as Mirra Alfassa in Paris), joined Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry in 1920.The vision behind Auroville was to create a place on earth where all human beings could live with goodwill and freely without belonging to a particular country. It is envisioned to create a new balance coupled with harmonious society, all this with a steady form of growth. Individual worth is far more greater than of material wealth and social standing.
The foundation for Auroville was laid by the migrant French and European community along with the locals living in nearby places. Looking at the greenery is hard to believe that few decades back this land was totally barren.
There are plenty of guest houses in Auroville like Atithi, Afsanah, Sharnga, Samasti. As a matter of fact our accommodation was booked in a Sharnga which was totally surrounded with vegetation. The power supply in Auroville could be a little irregular so make sure you have few candles in your room always.
Places to see in Auroville
Like I said earlier Auroville is not much of a sightseeing place but you should head to the visitor centre to get a better taste of auroville. When going around Auroville a bike is a good option unless you have a lot of time and can enjoy the cycle rides.
The Visitors Centre, which welcomes large numbers of visitors every day, is a demonstration site for alternative sustainable technology, renewable energy, alternative building techniques and integrated waste water management. The aim is to demonstrate the possibility to successfully run such a centre in a pleasant set up with low or no environmental impact and pollution. It is from here you can get registered to visit the Matri mandir.
The Matri Mandir
This is a giant golden sphere located at the centre of Auroville. The whole town is planned like a galaxy around the sphere. The Matrimandir is a meditation area and the whole energy to the city is passed by this giant sphere. The architecture of this sphere is very futuristic with pure white interior with ramps leading to the meditation space. A ray of light passes from top to bottom of this sphere around which the meditation takes place.
Afsanah Guest house
Designed by architect Popo Pingel this guest house is a beauty. Built on a swampy water body Afsanah guest is the most attractive guest house of Auroville.
This is a centre dedicated to nurture human unity by the means of spiritual education. The teachings of Sri Aurobindo in his creation ‘Savitri’ a poem of 24000 lines written over a span of 30 years are taught here. As per Mother, this mantra was for the transformation of world.
Verite Learning Centre
This is a centre which hosts numerous worksops, classes and activities for development of everyone.
This building houses many activities from kala Kendra, post office, cultural centre to museum of archeology. The architecture of this building which looks like its rising from the ground in layers was something that impressed me a lot.
Auroville is a great community experiment and I would love to see it grow in future to be a non-capitalist city people managed city.
If you want to know more about Auroville then Explore more of this beautiful city here