Auroville, Pondicherry-Things to know before you visit
Having stayed for 4.5 years in Chennai, we visited Pondicherry 2-3 times. However we could never visit the Auroville. So this time we decided to visit Auroville, as we were leaving Chennai in a few days. We didn’t want to miss the experience. I always felt a kind of mystery, as there is not much photos, videos available of the details of the experience inside the Matrimandir. In this post you will get to know about all the things to know about Auroville, Pondicherry.
About Auroville/ Aurobindo Ashram:
For people who don’t know about Auroville, let me try to explain briefly. It was established in the year 1968 by 5000 people from 124 nation. The name came from Rishi Aurobindo and A French Women Mirra Alfassa (Known as Mother) established this Ashram.
Her vision was “There should be somewhere on earth a place where no nation could claim as its own, Where all human being of good will who have a sincere aspiration, could live freely as citizen of the world, and obey one single authority, that of supreme truth place of peace, concord and harmony”.
Yes the people live here are free to believe any political or spiritual opinion. Everyone follows their heart and soul. At a time 2000 volunteers can work and when we visited there was people from 72 nations across globe.
The total area is 2000 acres (8 square km), which was totally barren land when they started the project, which is very hard to believe if you see now. Now the whole area is covered by trees and very well maintained. Thanks to all the volunteers, whose enormous effort made this change. For more details of Auroville and Matrimandir you can visit here.
Best time to Visit:
As the Auroville is in Pondicherry, so the weather is hot in most of time of the year. Best time is October- December, when the weather is best.
How to Reach Auroville, Pondicherry:
The nearest international airport is Chennai Airport. The distance between Chennai and Pondicherry is 163 Km. From Chennai you can reach by Bus (Ac and Non AC Buses) / Train / Private Car.
If you are going by private car don’t forget to visit the Mahabalipuram. You can read all the details here.
Visa requirement (For Foreigners):
If you are travelling to India in tourist visa, you can visit Pondicherry. However if you want to stay for a while, then you can approach Auroville Authority, they will arrange Visa. There are 3-4 types of Visa they can arrange based on your duration of stay.
Also read: Places to visit at Ooty
How to Book the pass for Matrimandir/ Auroville Booking:
People who are travelling for weekend or 1-2 days, booking for Matrimandir would be a really problem. If you are visiting Auroville first time, then you have to physically present while booking your visit to Matrimandir.
Cost of Pass: Free of Cost
Timing to issue the pass:
- If you want to see the Matrimandir from outside then Monday- Friday : 9am-4pm ; Sunday: 9am-1pm
- If you want to visit the inside of Matrimandir: (for first time visitor): Monday- Sunday (Except Tuesday) 10 am-11 am and 2 pm-3 pm. Booking has to made for the following day or up to the one week range.
- If you are visiting second time onwards: You can book over phone. From Monday –Sunday (Except Tuesday) 10am-11.30 am
My Suggestion: 1.Please note that there are lot of scams in the internet about booking online for first time visitor with some fees. Please don’t fall into those trap!! The booking cannot be done by any third party, you have to visit with your I’d Card/ Passport for the first time booking.
- Children of age up to 10 years old are not allowed inside the Matrimandir, so if you are travelling with kids, you have to plan accordingly.
We didn’t know this fact, so my husband had to sacrifice his visit to take care of her, while I and my mother went inside the Chamber.
Places to stay near Auroville:
There are many options of guest house/ hotel near Auroville. You can check in www.booking.com. You can use my referral code to get Rs. 700-1000 cashback after your stay.
You can also stay near Pondicherry beaches, which is just 10 Km away from Auroville.
My experience at Auroville and Matrimandir:
We booked for visiting Matrimandir on Friday for the next day. The officials told us to reach there by 8.45 am. I was very excited that I would get to know the experience for which many people come to this place from all over the World.
We reached next day on time and entered in a hall where we were presented a documentary about the Auroville- how it started, what is the purpose of building such an organization, what is the purpose that one should live in the place and work for the place. The documentary was for 20-25 minutes.
Then they took us to the Matrimandir by bus. There, one volunteer described how will be the experience inside the Inner Chamber. He also encouraged us to ask anything we may want to know.
Important Facts about Aurobindo Ashram:
He told that why Mother chose this place over the other places. Because this place was almost barren land and they only had to relocate 2-3 small villages for the total area. The total area is 20 Sq Km, whreas 8.4 Sq. Km consists of Auroville settlements. There are schhols, solar park, health care unit inside the campus.
I remember somebody asked that why this place is situated in India, why not in any other country? The volunteer quoted the dream statement again, and told that this place is not belong to any country and any people can come and stay there as much as they want. Is there any other country which will allow this? I turned around to see the faces of all the foreigners. I will not deny that in that moment, I felt proud to be an Indian.
After the discussion we followed another volunteer to the Matrimandir. First we meditate for 10 minutes under the structure and followed to the inner chamber. There you have to put on socks (they will provide) and climb a spiral staircase to the top floor of the inner chamber.
The inner chamber is kind of dark (not very) and pin drop silence. There are places for mediation where you can seat and meditate for 10-15 minutes. The atmosphere was so difference that it was very easy to concentrate. There was one globe made of glass kept in the middle of the hall, where the sun rays was reflecting. After the meditation over, we followed to the exit.
So that was my experience of Auroville. Have you been to Auroville or Matrimandir before? What is your experience?
Read: Safety of Tourist in kashmir.