I’d heard a lot about Pondicherry from all different people. Also, it was a long time wish to treat my eyes with that French architecture and a lot more that makes Pondy what it is. But to my surprise, I ended up discovering Auroville too during my trip to Pondy, and this was a soul-stirring discovery. So yeah, this article is exclusively meant for the wonders in Auroville.
To give you a brief of what Auroville is, it is a small town close to Pondicherry, say at a distance of 16 km. It is also an international village consisting of many foreign residents staying as members and having established their own lives and businesses.
The beauty of this town lies in the way it has been planned and constructed. Let me take you through my journey to Auroville. Also worth mentioning here is the fact that we decided to stay in Auroville during our trip to Puducherry (formerly, Pondicherry). Auroville gives you that peace and natural vicinity, especially when you wish to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We picked our two wheelers and started ‘Google Navigation’..these days it seems like its impossible to function without a GPS tool. After a 15-20 minute ride, we reached Matrimandir, really excited to book our visit inside the concentration area for next day. However, their office timings didn’t match ours and we ended up going for a short trek till the viewing point. This was a beautiful, shady trek that inspired us with some messages. The viewing point was equally crowded with tech savvy/non tech savvy people busy in taking selfies and what not.
We bid farewell to Auroville that day, thinking Matrimandir is the A-Z of Auroville. But we were wrong. After a small chat with our hotel manager the very next day, we found there’s much more to it. It’s a huge 2400 acres area out of which we’d seen merely 4-5 acres!
So next day, the trio set out again. Super lazily, we took our own sweet time to dress up in the morning and left for Auroville. This time, we wished to go to ‘Solitude Farm’ that served delicious organic thali. Enroute, we again said Hi to Matrimandir, got an Auroville roadmap from their information centre.
The road to Solitude farm was a roller coaster ride. But it seemed the town has been deliberately planned so, to keep nature intact. You’ve lush green trees and narrow roads-most of which are lanes and dirt roads. After reaching the Solitude farm, a small talk with the volunteer and the manager gave us the liberty to take a walk in the farm. It had a small cafeteria, and a variety of vegetation growing in there like banana, brinjal, sprouts, rice and so on. We felt we were in the lap of nature as almost everything was eco-friendly. A few things made me nostalgic like swings and treehouses-was a lot of fun spending time there!
Coming to their food, just one word, it was yum! Yeah it had a completely different taste compared to the food that you get even in South India. This may be due to the organic spices and garnishing being used from their farm produce. The manager also mentioned using a plant weed in our dishes, that grows normally in Auroville. He was a foreigner named Krishna (that’s the pun, I guess ;)).We even tried their hibiscus cooler and green smoothie. You’ll love them if you like organic stuff.
Their ambience was like that of a campsite. There were people sitting in their comfort places, some of them enjoying their coffee while some their siesta. We felt like we were sitting in a forest and having some great food. People who ate there cleaned their own dishes and so did we. It was a feeling of self-satisfaction. Post lunch, we tried their carrot cake. The carrot cake was a completely new concept, and a must try if you visit Solitude Farm. It’s completely vegan and contains carrot, peanuts, coconut as the main ingredients.
After a thorough study of the map, we thought of visiting a place called Swaram, where musical instruments are made. We picked our Jupiter and TVS street and started exploring the Auroville roads again. This was another topsy-turvy ride. A local guided us halfway to Swaram as the roads were kind of confusing. But hold, just before reaching Swaram, we found a Bamboo centre.
The Auroville Bamboo centre hosted workshops for making Bamboo furniture, articles and a lot more. It also included a retail showroom that sold musical instruments, wind chimes and soaps. We again ended up buying more soaps (just like many other places on the trip, fragrance obsessed!)
And the third and major place we visited in Auroville is Swaram. The workshop and showroom are located opposite to each other. They have a beautiful ‘musical garden’ at the entrance. A garden with some musical instruments, that gives you a divine feeling. Inside the workshop, you have the dream of a musician-some awesome musical instruments! These include the classical tanpura, dholak, flute and even the modern wind and door chimes.
Just close to Swaram, there’s the Aurospirul factory where they manufacture Spirulina (blue-green algae) and sell it as well. The entire process was worth discussing and watching. Though it’s very simple, the quality is what matters. Spirulina is said to be one of the latest entrants in the market of nutrition supplements.
We ended our short visit to Auroville with a coffee at Ganesh Bakery, won’t recommend that place to y’all. I’ll always remember the Auroville for its countryside feel. It makes me ‘close to nature’.