India’s most popular experimental township/community is often considered one of the destinations to visit within Puducherry, with many spending less than a day here. However, in recent years, Auroville and the areas around it have come into their own as a standalone offbeat destination that deserves more than just a passing visit. While visiting the Auroville township requires prior permission, the town around it too is now home to several great attractions.
Founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, also known as ‘The Mother’, Auroville is an experimental township or a universal town. Designed by famous architect Roger Anger, Auroville is a must-visit attraction of Puducherry where people of different nationalities, cultures, and beliefs live together in harmony.
In French, ‘Aurore‘ means dawn and ‘Ville‘ means city.
One of the major highlights of Auroville is the Matrimandir, a modern structure with a high significance for integral Yoga practitioners. Matrimandir has a lotus-shaped dome almost 30 meters high and is covered by golden discs that reflect sunlight. Prior bookings are required for visiting or for a concentration session (meditation) at the Matrimandir. First-time visitors are given a tour of the Matrimandir, along with a background on its history and importance.
Auroville Bakery and Boulangerie is one of the most popular food joints in the region and is open to visitors without prior permission. Everything on the menu is made purely out of local produce from the Auro Farms and the bakery is particularly popular for its bread and dairy items, especially their cheesecakes made from the popular Auroville Cheese. The bakery also has a dedicated outdoor seating area situated amid a sprawling garden space.
Located right off the East Coast Road leading to Puducherry, Auroville Beach is one of the most peaceful and beautiful beaches in the region. While the water is restricted for bathing due to rough waves, it is a great destination for anyone interested in meditation and attracts both locals and Aurovillians in large numbers. The beach is also popular for being an important olive ridley nesting ground.
In recent years, this experimental township has come into its own as an Offbeat travel destination and a major part of the credit for this ought to go to the number of cafes and hangout spaces that have opened up in the region. The Main Road and the market are in particular popular for their great cafes, bakeries, and restaurants. Some of the most popular cafes in the area include Marc’s Cafe, The Greek Cafe, Bread, and Chocolate Cafe. When it comes to eateries, the most popular ones include Ararat Restaurant, Tanto Pizzeria, known for its wood-fired pizzas, and Dharma Swasti, a vegan-specialty restaurant.
Auroville is exclusively populated by volunteers who have gone on to become citizens. One of the main mandates of Auroville is the practice of giving back to society. As a result, several citizens organize classes on things they are proficient in ranging from art and crafts to sculpting. Several great yoga and meditation classes are extremely popular in the township. While most of these classes are only open to Aurovillians, there are more than a few that accept visitors as well.
Here are 5 Facts about Auroville in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry:
1. Auroville is an experimental township in Viluppuram district mostly in Tamil Nadu. Some of its parts are in Puducherry as well.
2. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (known as “the Mother”) and designed by architect Roger Anger.
3. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity. It wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries can live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics, and all nationalities, Mirra Alfassa had said.
4. Auroville is a growing community of 2,700 people from 50 nations and the vision for Auroville is that it belongs to nobody in particular but humanity as a whole.
5. The best time to visit Auroville is November – March. Places that can be seen in Auroville are Matrimandir, Auro beach, and Botanical gardens.