Auroville, a Township Symbolizing Unity
Auroville is a universal township in the making for a population of up to 50,000 people from around the world. This is not an ashram or it does not have usual tourist attractions. It is 146 km ( about 90 miles ) from Chennai. It can be reached by Bus or Car from Chennai and very close to Puduchery / Pondichery. It is a unique place, read further to know about Auroville.
How did Auroville begin?
The concept of Auroville – an ideal township devoted to an experiment in human unity – came to the Mother as early as the 1930s. In the mid 1960s the Sri Aurobindo Society in Pondicherry proposed to Her that such a township should be started. She gave her blessings. The concept was then put before the Govt. of India, who gave their backing and took it to the General Assembly of UNESCO. In 1966 UNESCO passed a unanimous resolution commending it as a project of importance to the future of humanity, thereby giving their full encouragement.
The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity – in diversity. Today Auroville is recognised as the first and only internationally endorsed ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness, also concerned with – and practically researching into – sustainable living and the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind.
Between the lines
On the surface, Auroville can appear rather incomprehensible. It is an intense and challenging experiment, attempting the seemingly impossible, and one needs to be ready to actively participate in such an adventure. The meaning of Auroville only becomes clearer in the context of the vision of its founders, which has stimulated people from all over the world to join in this ‘laboratory of evolution’.
For casual visitors
Visitors to Auroville are sometimes disappointed to find here no Ashram, no typical tourist attractions or generally welcoming atmosphere. This is firstly because Auroville is quite different to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where people are considered to have consecrated their lives to integral yoga (as compared, in Auroville, to an experiment in human unity), and secondly because Auroville is not a tourist place, despite being referred to in travel and tourist literature, and does not devote as much time and energy to welcoming tourists as sites established specifically for that purpose.
Casual/day visitors are encouraged to go first to the Visitors Centre , which is open daily (except on Diwali and on Pongal day) from 9:00 to 17:30, and offers information, exhibitions, a video viewing facility, a cafeteria and shopping facilities.
Those who come with a deeper interest and actually want to visit one of Auroville’s projects should make an appointment with the concerned place through the Information Desk at the Visitors Centre.
Guest accommodation is available in various settlements around the township area. Charges are from Rs 150 to Rs 4100 per person per night depending on the type of accommodation and facilities provided. Pre-booking is advised, especially for the December to March and August-September periods when it is very difficult to find accomodation . This can be done by contacting one of the guest houses directly.
On arriving you are kindly requested:
– to fill an ARRIVAL FORM from the Indian authorities within 24 hours after your arrival. This is a legal requirement and required at each change of accommodation (even within Auroville)
– to obtain a GUEST CARD valid for the period of your stay (regardless of its length) at your Guest House or Guest Service or Financial Service (Town Hall and Pour Tous / Aspiration): you need to take your passport and some money.
– The Financial Service encashes foreign currencies and traveller’s cheques and at the Town Hall can also accept your credit card.
Opening an account with Financial Service
If your stay is longer than a week we advise you to open an account which is free of charge; this can be done at one of the 2 Financial Service offices
A security deposit of Rs. 1,000- is requested as well as money to run your account. The deposit will be refunded when your account is closed. The account number will be noted on your guest card. Within Auroville you needn’t carry cash as you may use your account like a credit card: you deposit money that will cover your bills using the various facilities such as Por Tous, Solar Kitchen, Cafeterias and snack bars, bakeries, health center, internet, classes, etc.
Closing of accounts can only be done at Financial Service either on the day of departure or one day before, at the Town Hall or the Finance Service office next to PourTous/Aspiration.
Opening hours of Financial Services are from 9am to 12.30pm and from 3pm to 4.30pm, Monday to Saturday.
Note that each guest is asked, as are the Aurovilians, to contribute financially towards the maintenance and development of the township and its infrastructure (water, roads, electricity, afforestation, farms, education and so on…).
At the present time guests are requested to give a contribution of Rs 100 per day per adult, reduced to Rs 50 per day for students and teenagers up to the age of 18.
This contribution is already included in payments to registered guesthouses.
There is no charge for children below the age of 12.
This contribution goes towards financing and maintatining Auroville infrastructure and services. (Please note that each Aurovilian also contributes monthly for the same purpose)
Guest House Contributions
Guests who are staying in Auroville in an unregistered guesthouse, with family or friends, or in a house-sitting arrangement will contribute Rs.100 per day of their stay in Auroville. This will be deducted from the guest’s Financial Service account. Guests, who have no account, can pay directly to the Financial Service, where they will be given a Guest Card, and it isthe responsibility of the Aurovilian host to make sure this happens.
Reductions may be granted to volunteers who are working a minimum of 12 hours per week. Exemptions may be granted to volunteers who are working a minimum of 24 hours per week. In both cases volunteers must be working in an Auroville activity that has been recognized by the BCC.
Guests staying in a registered Guest House can pick up an exemption form from the Guest Service office above the Solar Kitchen and return it there after it has been completed by applicant’s workplace. Guests staying in an unregistered Guest House or in an Aurovilian’s home may pick up an exemption form from Financial Services at the Town Hall.
Exemptions may also be granted in certain special cases on a case-by-case basis. Such requests should be made by email firstname.lastname@example.org or a written request to the GFCG can be delivered to the Guest Service Office.
Upon payment of this contribution, Guest Passes/ Cards are issued by some of the major guesthouses, by the Financial Service at the Town Hall or the Financial Service office next to PourTous/ Aspiration.
Your Guest Card will identify you as a guest of Auroville and allow you to use our facilities and services, Repos Beach, attend various cultural events (cinema, theatre, concerts, etc.), visit the Matrimandir at special hours. etc.
• A meal at the Solar Kitchen costs Rs 75, Guest Card is required
• A good meal in Puducherry costs around Rs 100, or more, depending on the class of establishment
• Cycle rental is between Rs 20 and Rs 40 a day
• TVS and motor bike rental is around Rs 80 to 100 a day.
• The Auroville daily bus to Pudu is accessible to holders of a Boarding Pass, which is issued at the Financial Service and in some Guest Houses.
• Classes (yoga, dance and so on) require normally a contribution of Rs 100 from guests, Guest Card required.
• Massages and haircuts are around Rs 300.
Visitors Centre: See the bulletin board for various activities and programmes for newcomers and guests
Guest Service: located upstairs at the Solar Kitchen; offers a wide range of information and guidance.
Guest week tour : five day tour by bicycle through Auroville. For more information contact email@example.com
Guest introduction tours and seminars: several options and possibilities, offered by firstname.lastname@example.org
Savitri Bhavan – Out of a study circle the dream of Savitri Bhavan was born – to have a place where all kinds of materials and activities for study, research and concentration on Sri Aurobindo’s revelatory epic could be gathered and made available in lectures and workshops.
Pitanga Hall (Samasti): exhibitions, and a variety of classes
Quiet Healing Centre : offers a wide variety of treatments, classes and courses
Vérité: yoga, creativity, vipassana meditation, inner healing workshops. For actual programmes check directly with members of the community
Red Earth Riding School: RERS is located on the Tindivanam-Puducherry road, next to the Auroville Police Station. RERS has 20 horses/ponies. From guided horses/ponies walkouts to competitive show jumping and dressage, internationally qualified teachers will coach you. For appointments, information, please contactDjenane at 94434 59048.
For people interested in horses as a help for children with unique needs, please go on Persian Sky link or call Marianne at 9443 085038
Auroville Library lends books to guests against production of a Guest Card (see below)
Laboratory of Evolution will lend books to guests for Rs. 200 deposit
Guests wishing to volunteer over a month may contact AVIS (Auroville Volunteering, Internships & Studies)http://www.auroville.org/education/avis/avis.htm, or email@example.com at the SAWCHU building, Bharat Nivas. Students opting for a work/research programme, may firstname.lastname@example.org at the SAWCHU building for the same.
For an active participation of less than one month, please contact
the Guest Service, upstairs from the Solar Kitchen,
• Because of occasional theft, you are advised to deposit your passport, air ticket and valuables in the guesthouse safe.
• As there have been occasional incidents on the roads over the years, women are specially advised not to walk or cycle alone anywhere after dark.
• Please, do not encourage begging.
• Please, respect the local customs regarding behaviour. Also, noting that Indian women generally dress very modestly, Western women are specially advised to dress in a similar fashion, in order not to send out the wrong message and attract unwanted attention. This also applies at the beach, where one-piece swimming costumes are advised.
• Indian Standard Time (IST) is five and half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
• To know the approximate rate of exchange of currency please visit: Universal Currency Converter
• Financial Service can also sell foreign currencies at your departure, please observe the following procedure by the Reserve Bank of India:
a) Foreign Exchange Certificates are valid 3 months only! That means the amount of Rupees converted into foreign currency can only be up to the amount exchanged within the last 3 months of your stay.
b) A copy of your passport as well as the flight ticket together with the foreign exchange certificate are needed for the sale of foreign currencies.
From Madras/Chennai, it is best to take a taxi direct from the airport to Auroville, though there are also buses available to Pondicherry from where one can take a taxi or autorickshaw.