Blog - Trip to India - Auroville
Trip to India - Auroville
Picking up from last time, we went down from Chennai to Pondicherry, though our main destination was a place called Auroville just some 6 km north, where we stayed for 3 nights from March 1 to 4.
Auroville is a community founded in the late 60's by Mirra Alfassa, referred to as The Mother in India. The main part of Auroville consists of a village of a closed community, living together with nature and self-dependent in many ways. Located in the woods with paths to get everywhere either by bicycle or scooter, entrance of cars and outsiders is restricted. There are however guest houses where people from outside can come to visit, it's also the way to start integrating for those who wish to become part of the international community. Auroville attracts visitors from India and also everywhere in the world. It's a very relaxing place for sure.
We stayed at a guest house called Afsanah, a beautiful place with Japanese-style gardens and an excellent Indian cook who learned French cuisine in Pondicherry. Our guest house was located in the northwest across from another called Vérité where are held yoga classes. It takes some 10 minutes to get from the entrance of Auroville (Visitor's Centre) by bicycle. We used bicycles lent by our guest house, they're old, bulky and take some getting used to, but they're good enough for getting around. Other bicycles we rented in Pondicherry where quite similar too.
An important part of Auroville is a large gold-plated structure called Matrimandir. Located in a big garden, it's a symbol of peace and perfection and is a place of meditation. Guests are only allowed inside after a few days in Auroville, having to first go to a "viewing point" and then book a guided visit that happens once a day. Matrimandir itself was completed just 2 years ago after 37 years of building by Auroville's residents. The surrounding gardens are still underway.
When taking a guided tour of Matrimandir, it's possible to get inside the large dome. Everything is white and silent, and the only lighting source is sunlight that's directed down each floor using large crystals. Entering Matrimandir everyone leaves their shoes outside, and before entering the main meditation room we had to wear provided white socks. Touching the white walls or floor isn't allowed, to avoid stains. We then sat there on a white cushion and blanket for some time. This place truly feels out of this world.
To get between Auroville and Pondicherry, we first used an auto rickshaw several times, but later we realized that it can be even cheaper to book an Auroville air conditioned taxi with a nice driver who speaks English. Still the rickshaw can be better for feeling the environment.
You can view a map of a day we went from Auroville to Pondicherry and back, at Gmaps Pedometer.
Posted on May 20, 2010 at 21:55 | Tweet