I have been to Puducherry twice, once when it was called Pondicherry and the second time was after it took its present-day name in 2006. It charmed me both times. People sitting by the promenade, the crashing sounds of the waves, the cool breeze, the vibe of the French quarters, etcetera; everything about Puducherry was beautiful. But there waits a very off-beat experience just 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Puducherry – Auroville.
Auroville is described as an experimental township, but only on delving deeper, you will learn that it is much more. Founded in the year 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, who is also called the ‘Mother’, Auroville was was designed by French architect, Roger Anger with the purpose to realize human unity. The residents of this universal township come from all over the globe and live together in harmony outside the concepts of money, nationalities, law, religion, and politics.
It is an ideal one day trip from Puducherry for explorers to introspect, self-reflect and experience off-beat travel.
Here’s a brief list of things to do while you are in Auroville:
Matrimandir: Located in the center of the township, Matrimandir is one of the first landmarks you should visit in Auroville. It sets the tone and pace for your day ahead. Designed for meditation, the inner sanctum will help you to introspect and look inward. The Matrimandir is open to Auroville residents, but non-residents can also visit it by booking their passes at least a day in advance.
Enjoying the delicacies of Auroville: This one-of-a-kind township also boasts of an exceptional food scene. Delicacies are cooked from fresh local produce. You can visit the Auroville Bakery and Boulangerie and definitely try out their cheesecakes, made from the famous, Auroville Cheese. You can also visit the many local cafes and hangouts that have sprung up in the region, serving delectable pastries and cakes. Head to Marc’s Café for a quick grub or try something vegan at Dharma Swasti.
The Beach and the Garden: The beach is a perfect spot to relax, and for those who like to meditate, there’s no doubt that it is ideal. Here one can spend time listening to the sound of the waves and leaving footprints in the sand. Auroville beach is open to both residents and visitors.
But if you’re not a beach person, then Auroville has something less blue and more green to offer you too. Head to the botanical gardens, which is home to infinite types of flora and fauna. Covering more than 50 acres, the botanical garden is a very popular spot among meditators. One should definitely visit it and just enjoy time with nature, given we all are aware of how rare it is due to today’s modern-day pollution.
Enjoy your me-time: Auroville is the trip that you take for yourself. Go shopping to the market on Auroville Main Road, buy yourself some khadi and ethnic trinkets, enjoy the sumptuous meals or take an art or yoga class to bond with your inner self. Introspect, learn and enjoy every moment of this unique and incredible experience.
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How to reach Auroville:
By Air: Auroville does not have an airport and neither does Puducherry, so your best bet is Chennai, which is 115 km away. Chennai is a busy airport and has flights coming in and out from every major destination.
By Rail: Villupuram is the nearest railway station at 32kms from Auroville. It is easy to connect to Villupuram from Chennai and other major cities in India. Transport is easy to arrange from the station to reach Auroville.
By Road: For its off-beat appeal, Auroville has grown popular and local bus services are very frequent from cities like Chennai, Tiruvannamalai, Bengaluru, Ooty, and Puducherry.