A Day in Auroville!
“If you get a chance, please do pay Auroville a visit!” the seniors advised us. No sooner did the opportunity knock on our door. We were a little too willing to take a detour from the National NASA trip and visit this Universal Township which was a 20 sq. Km of barren wasteland up until February 1968.
Early in the morning before sunrise we left from Pondicherry, we reached Auroville by the break of dawn, which is where the name of the city is derived from. Finding quite some rush in the visitor’s Centre we decided to explore the city on our own with the help of the city Map.
While walking down the shaded lanes of Auroville, we came across people from diverse nationalities doing their daily chores. Coming from a city where the only means you travel is by fuelled vehicles, I was surprised to find people, Old and young either walking or riding bicycles. “Go Green” was their unspoken motto.
Our first stop was MATRI Mandir, and it was a sight to behold. The serenity of the place had us hypnotised. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed inside the campus as the rule said we had to acquire prior permission to enter its Campus itself. But One factoid which interested me the most was that Inside the campus of the Mandir was kept an Urn filled with the soil of 35 countries. Depicting the true purpose of establishment of this township, i.e. to promote human unity.
After going ahead searching for some food, surprisingly we crossed paths with one of our seniors, whom we begged (almost!) to become our guide for the day and he was happy to oblige. He explained various customs or rules (depends the way you look at it) that they had to live by to be a part of this unique society. I’d like to share some of them with you They gathered every morning to Meditate at Matri Mandir which is a solar powered building. The people there preferred to grow their own food.
Coming Back to Food, we found huge Solar Kitchens that cooked food for a large number of people who gathered every day to dine together. Yes, we were lucky to taste some of it. I wouldn’t call it mouth-watering but it definitely was healthy made me remind of my childhood vacationing in the village of my grandparents.
Our Guide (that day he got a new name) took us to visit a very unconventional architect, Ar. Manu Gopalan who lived comfortably with bare necessities of life. His addressing statement struck me “All you study in college is useless, as it’s just from the books. You cannot know about the materials unless you touch them and play with it.” Also his workshop cum Living place was built by him manually from the scrap materials available from in and around the site. He truly entranced us with his knowledge and his philosophies of life.
After this enlightening interview we visited some more buildings, and we had an Aurovillian to escort us, so we weren’t just headless chickens running around. I felt that it was an unspoken tradition around there to build with earth and the locally available materials. They have an entire institute carrying out various research and experimentation to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of it.
After Walking for an entire day, we are back en route to our destination. This trip definitely questioned our way of living! Just taking from the nature and not giving back! Building concrete jungles instead of green ones! Let’s just go back to the basics!
Here I woud like to share some photographs of my trip!
1 Sacred Groves
2) Experimenting with Mud Arches at the earth institute
A green Jungle instead of a Concrete One!