Auroville is an experimetnal township. Located close to a remote village in Pondicherry, Auroville is a place where you can find a great example of alternate living solutions. The town is made by the Mother (Mirra Alfassa) on the principles of Shri Aurobindo's teachings.
Me reaching Auroville was not part of the plan I had about backpacking India. It just happened and I spent a week than the expected three days I scheduled at first.
There is so much to share from Auroville. But, in this post, I am going to give some basic information that can help with reaching Auroville, finding a place to stay and other things that might help experience Auroville better.
How To Reach Auroville From Pondicherry
The closest city to Auroville is Pondicherry. Being a very busy tourist destination, particularly weekend destination, there are many bike rentals available in Pondicherry itself (I have shared those details in a previous blog from Pondicherry).
If you are on a weekend trip and just want to see Auroville as a tourist for a day or half a day then it is better to rent your bike from Pondicherry and travel around 10 Kilometers to reach Auroville.
Auroville is situated near a village called Villupuram. It only takes 20-30 minutes to reach there. There are public transport buses available too. But, the frequency of these buses are very less.
If you are not bound by time or really want to explore Auroville, I would suggest you take this bus service by Auroville itself called "Accessible Auroville". It will take you from Pondicherry to inside of Auroville. If you really have a heavy bag I think this is a better option if you're not hiring a cab, which comes a bit overpriced mentioning the remote location.
The bus starts from in front of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram dinning hall at 12:00 or at 20:10. This is close tot he Pondicherry beach which is a prime tourist location you can't miss noticing in Pondicherry. The bus has 12 seat in total.
I was the only one who took the bus when I traveled, so I had the whole bus to myself. It costs Rs.60 one way. I got down at the Town Hall in Auroville. The bus goes inside Auroville which will be helpful if you have an accomodation booked inside Auroville.
Which brings to my next point: Accomodation.
Where To Stay In Auroville
There are many options for accomodation near Auroville. There are places outside and inside Auroville. If you really want to have an experience of Auroville, its philosophies, efforts to build a sustainable life, no-money system and so on, it is better to opt for a stay inside Auroville.
Auroville attracts many volunteers from across the world. There are many people who come for their internships too. There are busy seasons too. The hostels and accommodation facilities are listed on the Auroville website. You can make an enquiry if they are available.
Some of them are listed on other sites too. There are cheap hostels and eco- friendly ones. Few of them have dry compost toilets. So, do make sure you are aware of the facilities provided at the accommodation you are choosing.
I would recommend the International House inside Auroville. I liked thier rooms and facilities. Also, that was the one place where I had internet signal. So, that was a huge plus.
Also, your Auroville experience can very well change according to the people you meet here. I found my gang of people at the International House, so, maybe I am a little biased to recommend this place.
But, the main pros:
- Closer to visitors center and other cool places you might be visiting for food and other things.
- A cool rooftop
- Internet signal
- Good staff
- Single rooms
- Reasonable rent
- "eco friendly" facilities
I have all good things to say about this place even without staying there because I spent a good amount of my time in Auroville in there. There are a few cons and that is mainly because you are very new to Auroville. Such as:
- the "eco friendly" facilities such as dry compost toilets can be an overwhelming thing to get used to.
Those are the only things I can think of about the cons in International House.
Bike Rentals- The First Thing To Do
You won't see many cars inside Auroville. If you are thinking of walking to places within Auroville, that is going to be a bit difficult too. So, the best option is to rent a bike first thing you arrive.
There is a rental service inside the Auroville itself called Green Cycle Rides. The prices are really cheap and you can rent it on a daily basis. I took a bicycle since I don't have a driving license. That too a pink one, because that was the one with basket available then.
Food is something you really need to be thinking of if you are on a sudden plan to Auroville. There are cafes and food courts but most of them have timings. There are many awesome vegan cafes too, or most of them are.
There are other food options outside of Auroville too but the ones inside are worth exploring. So, if you are reaching at really odd timings then it will be better to carry something with you when you are coming from Pondicherry.
The Flip Flops
This is pretty much how the roads look like inside Auroville. The roads are made in a way for the animals to roam freely. So, you can expect the herds of goats or cows on the road any time of the day.
Depending on the weather, there can be either rain or really hot climate you can expect. And the roads can be really muddy when it rains. There is no winter in this part of Tamil Nadu. So, forget about shoes.
I made the mistake of having my shoes as my go to footwear and I changed that on the first day itself.
Why You Should Be Staying Inside Auroville
Auroville is special mainly because of the community. If you are visiting for a day or half a day, all you will be seeing is Matrimandir from a far distance with a visitors pass. But, there is much more to that in there.
How To Know Where To Go
There are many activities and events to participate inside Auroville. Even though volunteering is the best way to do that, if you are there for a really short time, the best way is to check out for notice boards or go straight to the Townhall.
The activities also varies a lot. So, finding the ones that really interests you can bring a completely different experience for you. For example, there are many architecture projects, farms, sustainable fashion projects, shcools and so on.
Alright, I think these are the basic things that might help you when you reach Auroville. And, in my opinion, people are really helpful here. So, it will be just fine if you are going there all alone.
In the coming blogs I will share how I spent my days in Auroville and a quick itinery so that you can make the best out of your time in there.