Auroville was birthed in the late 1960s by Mirra Alfassa, known to her followers as “The Mother,” as a global township in which people from across the world could live in harmony. Today, the UNESCO-recognized project has a population of over 2,000 people from dozens of countries, including many second- and third-generation Aurovillians.
At the center of Auroville sits Matrimandir, the gold-domed Temple of the Mother, where residents come to meditate, though day visitors can only view it from outside. To do so, you’ll need to watch an introductory video about the project at the Auroville Visitors Centre and then obtain a pass to access the Matrimandir’s viewing platform. Travelers wishing to spend more than a day passing through can sign up to participate in meditation, yoga, dance, martial arts, and inner healing workshops, or reserve a time to meditate in the Matrimandir. Most visitors come to Auroville on short, half-day visits from nearby Pondicherry, though it’s also a popular stop on day tours from Chennai to Pondicherry and around. For those wishing to stay longer, many projects happening around town welcome volunteers, some for as little as a day and others for a week or month at a time.
Things to know before you go
- Auroville is a must-visit for those interested in communal living.
- There’s an on-site gift shop offering high-quality products produced at Auroville.
- European and Indian food is available for purchase at multiple on-site vegetarian restaurants.
- Auroville is currently working on accessibility projects, with ramps and handrails at main areas, though some parts of the township may still be challenging to access with wheelchairs.
- A free shuttle is available between the viewing platform and the Auroville Visitors Centre for those who prefer not to walk.
How to get there
Auroville is about a 20-minute drive north of Pondicherry, and if you're staying in Pondicherry you can book a taxi or an auto-rickshaw, though many visitors prefer to rent a small motor scooter and make the trip themselves. Tours are also available from Pondicherry and Chennai; the latter include visits to other top attractions in and around Pondicherry.
When to get there
Auroville is best visited during the cooler, drier months of December to February. While this means a wider variety of available activities, it also means that guesthouses will be booked, so make your plans well in advance if you plan to stay overnight. The visitor’s center is open daily from morning until late afternoon, except on Sundays when it’s only open during the first part of the day.
Shopping at Auroville
If you're into shopping, that might be reason alone to visit Auroville. The township supports itself largely through the manufacture of a variety of products, from natural spirulina and other health supplements to artisanal cheeses. Other popular products, available at the Visitors Centre gift shop, include clothing, jewelry, home decor items, and even musical instruments, and their Maroma brand of incense sticks are exported all over the world.
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