Auroville is an experimental township. The underlying philosophies are based on Integral Yoga coined by Sri Aurobindo. Auroville is an experimental town designed by The Mother for people from any nation can come together, practice it in their lives.
The ultimate goal is to be one with "The Divine" and follow the consciousness. These are a few of my understandings. There is much more details and information to get a clear picture of the concepts.
When I first read about Auroville it sounded like an Utopia that can never be true in the modern world. I wanted to be there to see how a cashless society works, how a township can be sustainable on it's own, and I was genuinely curious about finding if it is all true about Auroville what is in the writings.
When I read about it at first, the picture was almost like the one above, which is not always true. This experience showed how it is practiced and I am glad I met a lot great humans who are really passionate about their work and life.
So, this is how my first day went in Auroville.
AUROVILLE VISITOR'S CENTER
I think the best place to start with is the Visitor's center. I wanted to buy a paper map of the Auroville from there. I found it a bit stress-less than scrolling through many things online. Plus, this is where you get more information as a visitor.
Ideally, if you are visiting Auroville as a tourist for a day, all you can do is get a look at Matrimandir from a distance. You need to collect a free pass to go there.
But, since I was staying with an Aurovillean, I got to go to the Matrimandir in the evening of the day I arrived. To be honest, it was one of the best places I have been in my life so far.
It looks like this golden globe from far but once you go inside, it is a completely different place. The kind of energy inside those premises make you feel different from the rest of the busy world.
Matrimandir is the center of this planned township. It is a special place where you can concentrate and meditate. The whole built has incorporated the ideas and concepts on which Auroville stands on.
As a visitor, you are not allowed to park your vehicle in the parking at the visitor's center. The path to matrimandir is a 10-15 minutes walk under the shades of trees.
There is a huge garden right outside the inner chamber which is divided into 12 units. Each of them represent the qualities such as Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Light, Life, Power,Wealth, Utility, Progress, Youth, Harmony, Perfection.
There is an old banyan tree in the garden with many pillar like branches growing strong from it. It is also of great importance inside Auroville. This is one of the foundation points from where the efforts to reforest the area started.
There are also fountains, outer gardens and the such inside the matrimandir compound. Any place there is ideal for meditation or to reflect on yourself. If you feel any special connection when your'e there, it is quite normal I think after visiting there.
But, I couldn't go inside the matrimadir, the globe itself, since there was construction going on. Visiting Matrimandir from a distance is all that you can do if you go there as a tourist. I did it too in 2016 and that won't really make you understand anything more in my opinion.
But, now I know that there is a chance to get inside the matrimandir for meditation. It is done through prior booking. Children under the age of 10 are not allowed.
The official site of Auroville has more information on how you can access it. I would highly recommend someone to go in there if they are visiting Auroville.
THINGS TO DO AT VISITOR'S CENTER
The Information center is the first place to go. This is where you will be issued the pass to matrimandir and also get to see what it is all about.
There is a room where they play the movie about construction of matrimandir. I think it is available online too. When the matrimandir foundation was laid, people from around 100s of countries brought soil from there which is kept in an urn to symbolize the unity.
There are exhibition centers at the visitor's center that are very resourceful. There are picture depictions of the concepts of integral yoga and the philosophies on consciousness and the divine.
The principles are based on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother was a collaborator who started Auroville. So, it is very common to see their pictures in most places.
After going through most of the exhibition centers, I went to this park nearby. This is on the way to matrimandir for visitors. They have these stones coloured and paintings of local legends and some onformation about the biodiversity here.
Visitor's center is also a place where you can find more food options. There are many dine-ins, ice cream stations and some fast food options available.
There are shops that sell clothings and other products from different communities here. They have a good collection of fusion wears in those shops.
Tamil Nadu in India was one of the places hit by Tsunami. There were fabric dolls available as a form of donation to help those who are affected during Tsunami and flood.
There was this art pieces to show the consequences of plastic to the ones near ocean.
There are different communities inside Auroville. Some are based on farms, some around other trades of work. Tibetan Pavilion was the first place I visited.
It was partially closed when I was there. However, the exhibition center was open, partially. From the notice board, I learned they do serve meals and other activities.
The exhibition center had many posters on the relationships of India and Tibet. Many were on healing practices. I always have a special place in heart for Tibet after visiting a monastery in Mysore.
They also have a place on the first floor which seems to be a place of prayer. Since it was closed partially, there was no one to explain everything in detail.
I found this colourful pattern at the center of what seems to a place for prayer gathering. The lines are so precise making it a piece of great art for me. I'm not very sure what is the significance or the meaning.
They also offer accommodation. There are guest houses inside this building for those who are visiting.
EUROPEAN HOUSE EXHIBITION
I was curious about the brick tower I saw on the way. It was the European Pavilion. They also had an exhibition house. But, it was also under rearrangement.
So, they have books and other materials but they were all in boxes when I was there.
Savitri Bhavan was the second on my list. They provide more information on the Auroville philosophies. They have a gallery of paintings to make the concepts easier.
Savitri is a book written by Sri Aurobindo which is a collection of poems. Savitri Bhavan exhibits them in paintings. Photography is prohibited as far as I remember (or I found it not a place to take photos).
I was at most of the places in wrong timings. Most of the places in Auroville were under renovation or closed since the owners were away. I think it was kind of an off season where they were not expecting many visitors.
But, there was a book reading going on and I joined in at the almost-end of the session.
WHAT I ACTUALLY DID ON MY FIRST DAY
Even though understanding and knowing more about Auoville principles was my agenda for the day, what I really did and thoroughly enjoyed was biking through the mud paths.
I think I have already shared my first bicycle I got reaching Auroville in the previous blog. I mean, look at these roads through what seems like a little forest. It's a feeling I can't express enough in words.
I don't regret even a bit of it because not only it was so refreshing, I also met many people who were doing good projects there. So, all in all, the first day was quite nice with a great weather.
Later on, I went on read a book offered by an Aurovillean which explained a lot of the things in simple terms. I think the first thing you need to understand what Auroville is really about is the ability to unlearn the things you already know.
As easy and hippy-like as it sounds, it was not something easy to not relate things according to our experiences and knowledge.