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Conceived as the 'Universal Town', Auroville is an experimental township where people from across the world of all cultures and traditions come and live together in peace. Located around 15 km from the city of Pondicherry, Auroville is located in Tamil Nadu and was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, a disciple of Aurobindo and fondly known as the 'Mother' of Sri Aurobindo Society.
This universal township was inaugurated on 28 February 1968 with the agenda that it will be a place with people willing enough to make this a hub of uninterrupted education and progress, regardless of their caste, creed, nationality or race. People from 124 countries including Indians from 23 different states came together with some of their native soil brought from their homelands and deposited in a marble urn.
Currently, over 2,800 people from over 195 different nationalities form the official residents of this township. The Aurovilleans as they call themselves live together on the principles of peace, harmony, sustainable living and 'divine consciousness' which was the philosophy of the Mother. Major forestation work was done by the early Aurovilleans which has made this erstwhile completely barren land into a huge patch of greenery. The project was supported by the Govt. of India, and the UNESCO passed a resolution in 1966 commending this as "a project of importance to the future of humanity".
Called the city of dawn, this place is the epitome of tranquility and proves as the perfect escape for the ones in search of peace. The best way to experience Auroville ashram is to actually just sit in one of the cafes, and talk to some of the residents here about their experience of living in the city - you would be surprised to find out how much the people living here love the concept and the life.
The architecture of the city is as interesting as the concept. The city is planned in a circle of radius 1.25kms, and the center of the city is the famous Matrimandir along with the gardens surrounding it. Just outside this are the industrial zone, the cultural zone, the peace zone, and the residential zone. Outside this, the entire city is surrounded by a "green belt" - this is supposed to act as a barrier against urban encroachment, a wildlife habitat, and sources of food/timber/etc. This entire area was created out of a wasteland, demonstrating the ability to conserve nature while developing a town.
The main attraction here is the "Matrimandir" - you can watch an introductory video about the concept of the city, and sit here in silence to concentrate. With water pooling in from different sides, the sound of the water and cool breeze which always flows, provides a perfect atmosphere for meditation. The mandir is an architectural masterpiece with a 30m high globe with a lotus-shaped foundation urn. The entry is free of costs, and you can only buy the tickets in person at the venue, not online. The walk from the entry gates to the center takes around 10-12 minutes.