Exploring Auroville as a Guest
The best time to visit Auroville is the main guest season from mid January to mid March. The temperatures are lovely and there are lots of educational, cultural and social events. Especially around Mothers birthday February 21st and the Inauguration Day February 28th. This means planning well and booking your accommodation some time in advance.
The area and /or the guesthouse or homestay where you stay shapes your experience here a lot, so it is good to be clear what your needs are. There is a big variety of places for every pocket, from simple pioneer huts to rooms and apartments with very comfortable European or even luxurious standards . Here some examples:
You also have to know if you want a more quiet place to retreat in nature or you want to socialize a lot and be part of many events. If you stay in Auroville for a longer time it might even be nice to move in between, to get different perspectives. This consideration may include also to decide how to move around on Auroville’s (mainly sand-) roads which are pitchdark from around 7pm. I was not so crazy about evening events and parties so even while living in the greenbelt I was happy with my my fast and silent E-Bike.
A scooter or motorbike are the more potent options, but they need petrol, are noisy and create dust and emissions.You find more about the accommodation possibilities on http://guesthouses.auroville.org/
Wherever you end up you are obliged to register within the first 24 hours and you either get your Aurocard the obligatory money card from your guest house (guest contribution included), or get an Auro guest card (contribution paid directly) to put your cash on. Many of Auroville’s services are also only accessible with cashless payment via Aurocard. Places for registration are at the Townhall or at Aspiration (next to Pour Tous the Auroville main shop). It is a very good idea to put your money on the card instead of carrying it with you, or leave lots of cash in your room. You have to be aware that even if you are a poor chap abroad, here in India you are – or at least seem to be – rich.
Most guests come to Auroville via the airport of Chennai and ask either their guesthouse to send a cab driver or order one themselves. I had very good experiences with UTS. If you arrive in the night you will be there in about 2 1/2 hours (prize around 30.- Euros)
If you are coming to Auroville the first time, you should go to the visitors center one of the first days. You get a map there (if your guesthouse doesn’t provide one) and maybe buy a small booklet: „The Auroville Handbook“ with all kinds of useful details. To make a one or three days „Guest Introduction Course“ is also very recommendable. Auroville is really spacious and diverse and you might encounter many places and get knowledge that is otherwise not so easily accessible.
To visit the Matrimandir (a must) you have to go to the office at the visitor center some days ahead and schedule a date. First you see a video for preparation and then you are allowed in a group to visit the gardens, the impressive Banyan tree and the breathtakingly beautiful Matrimandir.
The drinking water in Auroville comes from Aqua Dyn. It is dynamised, enlivened and of high quality. Bigger guesthouses and many restaurants have an Aquadyn water transformer, but you can also go to the place itself and get your own water.
The shopping center Pour Tous provides you with all supplys for everyday life (payment only with Aurocard) but if you don’t want to prepare your own meals, or have no kitchen facility were you stay, there are many good options. Here a little selection of my favorite places:
Indian or international cuisine in all price ranges is available all day long, but alcohol and drugs are not welcome in Auroville, so you can’t order or buy any there.
In the season there is a small bus (Accessable Auroville) to Pondicherry every day at different times so you can visit the Ashram of Sri Aurobindo and/or go shopping. On Sunday the bus service drives several times forth and back to Sri Ma Beach (Tanto’s Beach) the place to be – on a beautiful lazy Sunday.
I hope this little overview gives you a first impression and orientation.
More information on: https://auroville.org