What is Special About Auroville?
Auroville in Pondicherry is a dream come true for many. Just so because it was conceived on the notion of a universal town that thrives on human unity. This experimental township located in the Viluppuram district of Tamil Nadu state still lives by its name and welcomes scores of visitors from all around the world. It is a beautiful place with a good feeling that gives cosy and idyllic vibes, perfect enough for a holiday! But what truly makes Auroville special are the following:
- Auroville Pondicherry Ashram is a growing community of people from around 59 nations. The current population stands at around 2,500 people, out of which only ⅓ are Indian. It a perfect example of a diverse community that represents humanity as a whole.
- Auroville is the perfect getaway for anyone who wants to live an entirely new life at least for a few days. The slow-paced life and offbeat ways for keeping engaged, are some of the highlights of this place.
- Auroville shows remarkable success towards living a sustainable life. The town area is surrounded by an eco-barrier called the green belt which is an area of 405 hectares that consists of organic farms, orchards, forests and wildlife. The vibrant ecosystem is a result of environmental restoration.
- Auroville is a small tourist town that thrives on guest contribution for sustenance. Visitors must contribute a daily fee, called the guest contribution, that constitutes a major part of Auroville’s budget. But the contribution is definitely worth it, as the town has plenty to offer back!
What to Do in Auroville Pondicherry?
Auroville is a 3-hour drive from Pondicherry and approximately the same from Chennai. You can plan your stay for a few days, weeks or even months. There are several different things to do here, but all of them may not be for you! So, the first thing you can do is to head over to the Auroville Visitors Centre and find out all the events and offerings scheduled in Auroville for the upcoming days. Then, depending on your travel style, you can choose the ones that interest you the most. Here are suggestions of some interesting things to do while in Auroville:
Visit the Matrimandir
If you ask anybody for the must visit places in Auroville, then Matrimandir is sure to be on the list, no matter what! After all, it is considered as the heart of the township and was established by the founder mother herself. The giant golden coloured dome structure is actually a meditation centre, though not totally suitable for mindful meditation as the place is often pervaded by visitors throughout the day. Entry to the Matrimandir is free on all days of the week, however, you need to register at the visitor’s centre to get a pass for the next day.
Try Organic Food
Auroville is a small township that thrives on self sustenance. Hence, it is possible to see Auro-farms in different locations that are specifically designed to grow organic fruits and vegetables. The vegetables and ingredients are fresh and free from any chemicals or preservatives. From nuts to herbs, fruits and vegetables, all the produce is totally organic and fit for vegans too! You can find a mix of European and Indian cuisine in several of the eateries. Some of the popular eateries in Auroville are Roma’s Kitchen, Auroville Bakery, Naturellement Garden Cafe, Gelato Factory, Solitude Farm Cafe, Goyo, etc.
Check out Sadhana Forest
The laid-back atmosphere, calming aura and the spirit of inner quiet seen in the whole of Auroville extends into the Sadhana Forest. Focused on indigenous reforestation of 70 acres of severely eroded Auroville land, the Sadhana Forest is indeed a place to visit and cherish. Thousands of volunteers come to work here all year round. They are provided with free accommodation in eco-friendly huts made from natural materials. The community practices several sustainable practices including biodegradable toilets, waste minimisation, generating their own electricity and water conservation. You can take a tour of the forest by riding a free bus service from Auroville on Fridays. Plus, you get free vegan organic dinner too!
Shop at La boutique d’Auroville
Is shopping an integral part of any trip of yours? Then, Auroville in Pondicherry is definitely not going to disappoint you. It may look like a small shop on the outside, but La boutique d’Auroville has a lot more to surprise you as you move inside. You will find an amazing array of locally handcrafted jewellery, clothes, soaps and oils. But watch out for the splendid collection of candles and incense sold here. They are simply awesome! The shop is worth a visit, but the prices aren’t that cheap. But of course, they are fixed and fairly reflect the time and effort spent on creating these handmade goodies of good quality!
Explore the Beaches
The coast of Auroville is lined with mesmerising beaches that are a perfect backdrop for an introspective evening by yourself, or a hangout with friends. Soft golden and black volcanic sand adorn the shores of the roaring sea. Auro beach or Auroville beach is one of the most frequented beaches in Pondicherry. Located at around 10 km from the Auroville Ashram, the beach itself encapsulates the calm atmosphere seen in the ashram. You can get a good view of the popular Auroville lighthouses from here and also take part in some interesting water activities for fun. If you are a peace and tranquillity seeker, we recommend you catch a glimpse of the picturesque sunrise and sunset from here. However, visitors cannot stay late until night and need to leave soon after sunset.
Relax at the Quiet Healing Centre
Also known as Auroville’ s health spa, The Quiet Healing Centre is a great place if you want to relax and rejuvenate. The place offers a variety of services including massages, spas and healing therapies that ought to make your relaxed holiday an even calmer one. This centre is located on the beach and hence, provides for a great ambience to unwind and relax your mind.
Go for a Cycling Ride Through the Streets of Auroville
One of the best ways to explore this pretty town is through cycling, weather permitting. Apart from peak summer, the city usually has pleasant weather which allows you to take a trip around it. The town promotes sustainable living and pollution-free transport. So, cycling is very popular here and in fact, is one of the most fun things to do while you are here in Auroville. You can rent bicycles for any period of time and explore the peaceful roads on your own or with a gang of friends.
Visit Kala Kendra
Kala Kendra is one of the most popular spots among artists. It is a famous hub for all art activities in the town and actively encourages artists to demonstrate their skills through exhibitions, workshops and art shows. There are many interactive programs that are designed within the community dedicated here. You can also choose to volunteer and stay in Auroville to be a part of this community and thus share and gain knowledge in the relevant fields.
Where to Stay in Auroville
Because of the township’s proximity to Chennai and Bangalore, Auroville Pondicherry rooms get sold out at an alarming rate. So, we suggest that you better get ahead and book your rooms proactively before heading to the place. There are many amazing places for a comfortable stay depending upon your travel style and budget. You can call up Auroville Guest Accommodation Service in Auroville to get a brief about the available guest houses there. Here are a few recommendations of places that are decently big and comfortable for a few days stay:
Arka Guesthouse:This guesthouse has spacious, airy and sunlit rooms and is located in the residential area, about 1 km from the Matrimandir. The place is beautifully landscaped with grassy hills and natural wilderness. It is one of the few guesthouses in Auroville that gives you the facility of internet within the rooms. The staff is very helpful and the place is especially favourable for stay with seniors. Meals are available here at an extra cost, but are worth it. You have to spend at least three nights here to book rooms. Also, the rooms get booked very fast, so make sure to get one for yourself before you head there.
Adhi’s Homestay:This is probably one of the most popular home-stays in Auroville. This home like place with great hosts provides for the much-needed serenity and tranquillity while on a calm holiday The property is perfect for small families on a budget and even has a playground for the kids. This home-stay features lush greenery all around it and also has a beautiful garden and terrace.
Ecas Volunteer’s Home:If it is a long stay that you are looking for in Auroville Pondicherry, then the best place to stay would be Ecas Volunteer’s Home. This farm-stay features a garden view property with minimalist and basic features, good enough for a comfortable stay, yet easy on the budget.
Things to Keep in Mind While in Auroville
Here are some of the most important things that you need to know to make your visit to Auroville most enjoyable:
- Visiting Matrimandir is a long process, including the long walk inside. So, make it number one on your list, as you can plan the rest of the trip accordingly.
- Buy an Auroville map from the Auroville Visitors Centre to keep yourself updated of the place.
- Some hotel-stays and guesthouses accept only cash. So, better check properly before heading over to make the payment by card.
- You can choose to not stay in Auroville and check in to a hotel room in Pondicherry. After all, it is only 7 km away from Auroville.
- Auroville is a rather quiet, cosy and calm place for stay. If you have plans of drinking beer and having fun all through the night, better book your stay at Pondicherry. You can make day trips to Auroville instead.
- If travelling solo, then make sure to avoid night trips and always carry a torch as it gets dark as early as 7.00 pm.
- Always make sure to dress by the local standards. Modest clothing is most preferred and it is required that men wear a shirt in public places.
- Avoid too much display of jewellery and costly things while travelling in Auroville. You need to be alert of pickpockets and thieves.
- There is plenty of scope to indulge in recreational learning here. You can enrol for classes like sculpting, yoga, arts and crafts, etc. to make the most of your stay here.
- The traveller's market on Auroville Main Road is a haven for pop-ups and stalls selling handicraft items, ethnic jewellery, khadi garments and much more. You can purchase good quality souvenir items from here.
- Auroville as an offbeat travel destination is majorly credited by its numerous cafes. Enjoy cafe hopping while you are here to explore the many different cuisines and delicacies.
- Auroville is a place that was initially designed with a cashless system and is still being followed in most places except some. You can purchase an Auro Card from the guest house or at the Auroville Financial Service for ₹ 500.00. This card can be used at a variety of places and can be topped up with cash as and when needed.
- There is a pizza night at the Youth Club every Saturday night. You can take part in it if you enjoy good company and delicious food.
- The easiest way to get around Auroville is on a bike. You can also rent a bicycle or a four-wheeler here if required.
- Over the weekend, especially on Sundays, it gets quite crowded here. People from outside the city make visits during this time, hence, it's better to avoid visiting public spots on these days.
Auroville – In Complete Harmony with Nature
Auroville is the perfect destination to live in complete harmony with nature and our environment, even if it is meant for a few days. It gives you an excellent opportunity to discover your spiritual side, volunteer for things you always wanted to do, pursue new skills and soak in the mesmerising natural beauty of the place. We hope this BP Guide would have convinced you to plan your next vacation in Auroville. Stay connected with us for more such engaging content.