‘You have to go to Auroville in Southern India!’. I was told this by quite a few people who know me well enough to know that I’m getting into spirituality and like places that are a bit different. I could see that Auroville was close to the Tamil Town of Pondicherry so I looked into accommodation in Auroville to see if I should stay there overnight or just visit Auroville for the Day.
If you don’t know already Auroville is a very unique place- a township and community created in the 60’s by a lady known as The Mother along with inspiration from Sri Aurobindo who had and still has an Ashram in Pondicherry Town. It’s a place created with no nation, no religion and it’s aim is live freely and find a new way to live. If you want to read more, I’d recommend checking out their website here.
All of this sounds pretty good and I had heard and read that of course it was a popular place to do Yoga Classes and Meditation Classes but after a quick look online I wasn’t convinced enough yet that this ‘community’ would be right for me to visit for 1 to 2 nights. Instead I decided to book myself a 4 night stay in Pondicherry and visit Auroville on a day trip from Pondicherry to get a taste of it, so that’s what I did and I’m glad I did that too.
If you want to SEE my Trip to Auroville from Pondicherry, have a watch of my YouTube video here.
Auroville Day Trip from Pondicherry
SIM CARD FOR INDIA
I really recommend having a sim card in India as it makes travel in India so much easier! You may have heard that it’s hard to get a sim card in India but you can get a sim card in Delhi Airport, read this post to see how to buy a sim card in Delhi Airport or if you fly in elsewhere 3 ways to buy a sim card in India and you’ll be connected in just a few hours!
WHAT TO WEAR IN INDIA
If you are a woman, here’s what I recommend you pack and wear in India. Technically you can wear what you like in India in most places but to get fewer stares and feel more comfortable, read my post!
DON’T GET SCAMMED IN DELHI
Getting from Pondicherry to Auroville
I stayed at Micasa Hostel in Pondicherry which right now is the only hostel in Pondicherry but luckily it’s a good one. I met a girl there who had hired a moped in Pondicherry to go there. There are lots of moped and scooter hire places in Pondicherry and close to Micasa Hostel.
Moped is certainly the best way to reach Auroville from Pondicherry, it gives the most freedom once you are there and it’s the cheapest option too. The roads in and out of Pondicherry are busy, Indian town roads and will require good knowledge of riding a moped in India, however once in Auroville the roads are much quieter and perfect to ride on.
However, what if you are like me and have failed many times in riding a moped and now never do?
Well, I got a tuk tuk to Auroville! There are always plenty of rickshaws outside Micasa Hostel and I was quoted 400Rs there, I think this was a bit too much and I tried to question it but in the end I was fine with it seen as I didn’t spend money on any other Pondicherry activities.
The drive is 30 minutes from Pondicherry Town and Pondicherry Beach to Auroville’s Tourist Centre which is the best place to be dropped.
It’s possible to see Auroville and a good amount of Pondicherry in one day like I did or by doing it as a joint Pondicherry and Auroville tour with a knowledgable guide.
Visiting Auroville on a Day Trip
The Tourist Information Centre of Auroville is where you need to visit first on a day trip and especially without your own transport, it surprised me as it’s a very well built and fairly big centre with lots of amenities.
There’s a few boutique shops selling products made in the local area by local people, there are a few cafes selling a range of drinks, cakes, ice creams and some lunch items, toilets, a place to hire bikes, a little museum and an exhibition area which gives lots of information on Auroville and in particular the Matrimandir which sits in the middle of the community.
Auroville say’s on it’s website that this is not a tourist site but a place for silent concentration, however with the hoard of day tourists coming, myself included, to see Auroville and with this being the main place you see on a day trip.. it is a tourist attraction.
However, it is a requirement to watch a video about it first. Although this room is only very small with limited numbers and not set up for the huge amount of people who visit. I would watch the video if I was you as its interesting and seems the most respectful way to visit Auroville.
Things to do in Auroville
The main thing is to head to the Matrimandir. It is a 1km nice and shaded walk from the visitor centre with lots of signs and plaques a long the way offering information and inspiration relating to the Matrimandir and Auroville.
Before reaching the Matromandir is a huge Banyan Tree, I read that when searching for a place to create this community whilst The Mother was living in Pondicherry they came across a Banyan Tree in the middle of scrubland and decided this would be the centre and then they planted many trees around it to create the woodland that is there now. I’m not 100% that this is the tree but it seems too much of a coincidence not to be!
The Matrimandir can only be viewed from a distance and a small viewing platform for guests visiting for free and not having booked on a tour.
If you want to visit the Matrimandir more closely and go on a tour it is possible to book this, have a look at the official website here for more information on that.
As I said the tourist centre does have a good range of small cafes for a drink and a snack which are perfect if like me you do not have transport to go to any of the cafes in the rest of the community.
Had it been another day and had I felt like I wanted to I could have hired a bike and hiring a bike in Auroville is the best way to see the area, aside from having a moped. On Sunday when I visited there were still a few bikes for hire but someone else I met in Micasa Hostel went on a weekday and they had gone by mid morning and she was suggested to get there by 9:30am in order to get a bike, so if you want to hire a bike in Auroville, get there early in the morning!
Talking of Sunday, I would not recommend visiting Auroville on a Sunday if you can avoid it, firstly the Matrimandir viewing walk is closed on Sunday afternoons which was fine for me as I went in the morning but it felt like the rest of the community was much quieter too as it must be people’s day off, yet it was very busy with Indian Tourists because it was Sunday.
By hiring a bike or having a moped you will be able to explore the area so much more. Along the main road leading into the Visitor Centre there are a range of cafes with healthy looking food and a good vibe.
There’s also the option to go to Auroville Beach too. It’s pretty far from the community town centre and takes about 10 minutes by tuk tuk and not walkable in my opinion but with your own transport it would be nice to visit.
There are tracks close to the visitor centre which point in the directions of the area called Solitude and the Tibetan pavilion and they are possible to walk along. In fact looking on a map of Auroville is fascinating as the areas and I guess what are neighbourhoods are all named different things like Creativity, Shanti, Courage, Discipline.
BOOKING TRAINS IN INDIA
India is best travelled by train because its the quickest, cheapest and best way of getting to know the country. For an EASY option of booking trains in India use 12GO to search and book trains really easily. If you’ll be in India for awhile, you can use the local booking system, it’s a bit tricker but possible, here’s my post on how to book trains in India as a tourist.
BEST ACCOMMODATION IN INDIA
I always use Booking.com to book my hotels in India and Hostelworld to book my hostels. India has a great range of accommodation with brilliant hostel chains like Moustache, Zostel and Backpacker Panda as well as homestays to luxury hotels.
GUIDED TOURS IN INDIA
Many cities in India are best seen with a guide, even if it’s just a half day tour on your first day. Cities in India are chaotic and complex and what better way to taste the food and get to know the city than with a local. I recommend Get Your Guide & Viator for the best tours in India!
If you do not have a bike or moped, there is an Organic Vegan Cafe in the area os Solitude, it’s closed on Sunday’s so I couldn’t go but my recommendation to you would be to head there over eating in the Visitor Centre if Vegan Food takes your fancy and they also have a farm you can see and get a taste of the way of life here and see more than just the visitor centre.
My Honest Thoughts on Auroville
In all honesty I thought I would visit Auroville on a day trip and be dying to come back and spend more time there in the future as online from what I have read it sounds like ‘my kind of place’. However I didn’t feel that.
I don’t know whether it’s because I went on a Sunday when although the visitor centre was open I didn’t see any life of the people who live there, or perhaps because I was so confined to the visitor centre by having no bike or moped, and it was really hot so I didn’t want to walk too far.
Also on my walk around going behind the Tibetan Pavilion and following the tracks in a loop back to the visitor centre I saw so much trash with goats and cows in it eating it! It was very bizarre. It was like being in any other Indian Town or Village but I did not expect a place like this to be like that, surely they are into recycling and not polluting India any more?
A few thousand people live in Auroville too and I’m unsure as to whether these are all Foreigners or that number includes local Indian’s. I saw foreigners on mopeds but for all I know they could have been there for the day too. I guess I felt like I wanted to experience some of their life for the day in a spiritual place however it was far from spiritual due to the vast number of people who visit on a day trip.. including me!
I do think it would be good to book into a hotel in Auroville or one of Auroville’s guesthouses to get a feel for the place. There are actually nearly 100 accommodation options in Auroville on Booking.com so it is popular for people to visit this way. I would say a few days in Auroville would be needed to get an understanding of the place, and then a few more days to really enjoy it and find good yoga classes and different spiritual and healing classes along with areas to explore.
If you fancy staying overnight in Auroville, have a look at some Auroville accommodation options here.
HELP WITH YOUR INDIA ITINERARY
I’ve spent many months travelling India in the last few years visiting over 50 places around the country, here are my recommended itinerary posts for India to help you plan your trip!
Either way, I actually enjoyed the visitor centre and reading the information boards about it, it’s so unique and interesting. The Auroville visitor centre is free to enter with some nice cafes to get food and a drink. It cost me 400Rs there in a tuk tuk and 350Rs back so it was a reasonably priced day trip from Pondicherry and gave me something else to do to keep me busy in Pondicherry!
I hope this helps you decide if to visit Auroville from Pondicherry and how to do it.
For more of my posts on India and Travelling see: