SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM:
Founded in 1926, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram has grown, under the Mother's guidance, from a small group of two dozen disciples into a large diversified community with almost 1200 members. Counting the 400 students of the Centre of Education and the hundreds of devotees who live nearby, the larger ashram community consists of more than 2000 people.
Situated in a busy city of over 700,000 people, the Ashram is not a quiet place of retreat but a vibrant centre of life in a modern urban setting. The dynamic character of the community reflects the life-affirming aim of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga. Work as an offering to the Divine is an essential aspect of the Yoga, and all Ashramites do a certain amount of productive work each day in one or another of the Ashram's departments.
In the sadhana or spiritual discipline at the Ashram, there are no obligatory practices, no rituals, no compulsory meditations or systematic instructions in Yoga. Sadhaks are left free to determine the course and pace of their sadhana in accordance with their own natures. But the general principle of the sadhana is the same for all: there must be a surrender to the Divine and an opening to the Divine Force so that it may work to transform one's being.
The Ashram is located in the eastern part of Pondicherry. Ashramites live and work in a large number of buildings spread throughout the area. The focus of community life is the Ashram main building, usually called simply "the Ashram", which consists of an interconnected block of houses, including those in which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for most of their lives. At its centre, in a tree-shaded courtyard, lies the Samadhi, a white-marble shrine where their bodies are laid to rest.
The Ashram provides its members with all they need for a decent and healthy life. Various departments have been organised to look after the basic requirements of food, clothing and shelter, as well as medical care. There are also libraries for study and facilities for a variety of cultural pursuits. The Ashram is administered by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
CONTACTING BUREAU CENTRAL
Information Centre of Sri Aurobindo Ashram,
3, Rangapillai Street,
Working Hours: 6am to 8pm (all days)
Auroville is a small town 6 km north of PondicherryThis town was a vision of The Mother from Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry as it's an international town. She envisioned a town where unity will be celebrated and all will have a spiritual vocation. At the moment, in July 2010, 2200 people from 43 different countries are living in the city. About 40% are Indians (more than 15% are French and 15% are German).
Auroville Handbook is the official guide to Auroville that can be bought in the Visitors' center and the bookshops around or Auroville's website. A map of the town can be bought in Pondicherry at the Boutique de Auroville and at the visitors center in Auroville.
By Rickshaw (Rs 100-150) or Taxi (Rs 240) from Pondicherry. Many buses between Chennai and Pondicherry pass the turn off to Auroville - you can get down here and into one of the waiting rickshaws at the junction.
You can also take a taxi from Chennai Airport. It costs Rs. 1500 (apporox USD 35.00) (price quoted December 2009. If you call a taxi service in advance: +91-413-2622400, +91 413 2623586 (both companies are run by Auroville township near Puducherry), they will be at the Arrivals exit with a sign with your name on it).
You can also rent scooters in Pondicherry and drive yourself for a day trip or arrange to keep the scooter for a few days or more.
Best by motorbike, also possible by bicycle. Rickshaws and taxis can be ordered for trips out of the town. If you have a guest card than you can use the community's bus to Pondicherry (for free). You can hire motorbikes for Rs 60-100 per day and in some guesthouses you'll get a bicycle for free with your rent.
The nearest petrol station is on the sea front road just north of the Auroville turnoff. If you find yourself low while in town, a few of the shops have 1 liter water bottles filled with petrol for sale.
Matrimandir - Meaning "Temple of the Mother" in Sanskrit, this is the geographical and spiritual heart of Auroville. The outside is plated with gold, while the inside is stark white with a gigantic crystal in the center.
Check with the visitor center if you're interested in seeing the inside of the temple - the rules can be very strict, and it may take 2 days or so before you actually get inside (you've been warned!). You'll first need a visitors pass for a little guided tour of one of the meditation chambers, and once you've done that you qualify to visit the inside of the main temple the following day. Saturday and Sunday can be particularly busy and you may need to wait in line for 30-40 minutes. Bags, cell phones and cameras are not allowed in the temple.
Auroville's birthday celebration
If you have a guest card you can get a pass valid for all the days of your stay, otherwise you'll get a one day pass. Aurovilians can also take you in as a guest, though this isn't likely unless you have friends there.
Auro Beach - Located at walking distance from the Auroville Busstop on ECR (East Coast Road), Auro Beach is considered one of the best beaches on India's Eastern Coastline although it it is still very polluted. Most of the people found on the beach are either Europeans or Tamils.
One of the various architectural experiments
There are a lot of activities in Auroville like Yoga, Tai-Chi, Watsu, different kinds of alternative healing and courses. The variety is wider during the visitors' season (December to March), when they can attend the classical Indian dance performances of young virtuosos organised by Auroville Cultural Exchange. There are a plethora of social/economic/environmental/agricultural projects going on regularly. Many of them welcome tourists, and many tourists welcome the opportunity to spent a week or more volunteering to get a much more intimate look at what goes inside Auroville. There are at least 14 farms in Auroville, any of which will take daily volunteers. There are also many schools that can accommodate volunteers, environmental restoration projects, and village action initiatives, just to name a few. Kottakarai Organic Food Processing Unit is a small little shop that makes things like cookies and pasta from local and organic ingredients in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is located next to Ganesh Bakery, a cafe/restaurant that is popular with tourists.
Hand woven hammocks
Hand carved stone sculptures, including some erotic works
Cool hippy clothing, but be sure to bargain hard on them as prices are set high in Auroville.
LED Headlights,Parasite Zapper, Mind machines with Innovation unlimited,Silence.
Books about Auroville - the idea, the architecture, the mother,... (Bookshop at the Visitor's Center). "Auroville in a nutshell" is a great booklet to start with for about Rs 50.
The Solar Kitchen is the main cafeteria and most popular place to eat. Everyone pays the same price - no matter how much you actually eat. The food is really yummy and it's a great place to met people! Upstairs you can find the cafe La Terrace serving coffees, salads, sandwiches and changing international dishes. It should be noted that both do not accept cash: you must apply for a guest card at the visitor's centre, fill it with credit, and pay using that account. Both, La Terrace and the Solar Kitchen try to use organic products whenever they can! At La Terrace try the delicious mushroom pasta with egg and don't miss out on the amazing ice-cream!!
Ganesh Bakery is very popular, serving full meals and baked goods, with a well-stocked market attached.
Visitor Centre has an excellent cafe with daily specials and a wide range of Indian and European food including great vegetarian food, drinks and desserts.
Le Morgan at the Town Hall is a French restaurant which is open for lunch and also some dinners, please check. They often serve delicious fresh fish.
Repos cafe is situated on the beach and has amazing salads, check out sunbliss salad or the houmous platter. It is open to people staying in Auroville and is closed on Mondays and open til 5 every other day.
Aurelec serves breakfast and a wonderful buffet lunch for a fixed price of mainly north Indian food. It is also an art gallery.
New Creation Corner is on the main round from the beach to Matrimandir and serves great vegetarian dishes, crepes and has a great atmosphere.
Paradise Pizza is an amazing pizza restaurant where the pizzas are cooked on a clay oven and taste delicious. They also offer some daily specials of pasta.
Solitude offer a vegan meal cooked from produce on the farm. This is available at lunch times and you must book in advance and make a donation.
Lhasa Tibetan Restaurant a family restaurant on the main road into Auroville center, at right hand (surrounded by some Pizza places). Don't be scared, the house looks unpromising from the outside, but the place is actually very spacious and the food is amazing and affordable too.
There are more than 450 beds in different guesthouses in Auroville, and many more in the non-Aurovilian hotels around the township, which are generally less expensive. The best way is to go to the visitors' center in Auroville and browse through their book in which you can see the rooms and get details about them. Prices range from Rs 75-2100 per person per day.
Overnight guests in Auroville's guest houses are expected to pay a daily contribution of Rs 100 (30 for students), which is often included in the guesthouse rate. For this contribution you receive a Guest Card which allows you to use the services of Auroville, like the Solar Kitchen, classes and some shops.
December through February is the guests' season - the busiest time in Auroville. Plan your trip in advance for this period.
Way to Out:
You can take a taxi to Chennai airport for Rs. 1500 from Auroville. Or you can take a taxi to Pondicherry bus station for Rs. 150, then take a regular bus for Rs. 45 to Tambaram , cross the highway through an underground and get a train connection from there to Chennai Airport for Rs. 4 (just a few kilometers away).
From Allankuppan,Kottakarai village westside Aurovills every 30 min a bus go to Pondi over Kootroad,where you can enter a bus to Tindivanam,Tirruvanumalai,Chennai. Often the bus is already full.Its safer to go to Pondi. The bus is 5 Rs Thge same problem you face on the ECR (East cost road) if you catch a bus to chennai.