The first place I visited at Auroville was the 'Visitor's Center'. Located deep inside the Auroville community, this center serves as a Museum, Cafeteria and Souvenir Shop all rolled into one. The entire structure of the Vistor's Center has a brick construction, I found the arched gateway at the entrance of the Center particularly fascinating. The Museum has a collection of illustrations and documents which narrate the lives and times of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, it also has a counter which gives out Visitor's passes for those wishing to visit the Matri Mandir. I picked up my passes for the 3:30 PM tour to the Mandir.
The Souvenir Shop is run exclusively by the members of the Auroville community to promote the cause of this International township. I found this to be an ideal place to pick up little gifts for my friends and family - the variety of knick-knacks on display was amazing - postcards, hand-made paper, pottery, T-shirts, dresses, leather garments, wallets, … just about anything - and all of these are made in Auroville by members of its community to raise funds in order to turn their dream of this Utopian township into a reality. And if by the end of it all you happen to be hungry - well, just stroll across to the Cafeteria which serves up mouth watering baked goodies and other treats.
Come 3:30 PM and I was making my way to the Mandir. Located just a little way off from the Visitor's Center, at the geometric center of this International township is the Matri Mandir, a gigantic globe shaped meditation hall with its interior lighted up naturally from rays of lights entering through Belgian crystals placed all around the globe's surface. For those with spiritual bent of mind, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville offer a serene and placid setting. An ideal retreat for those seeking spiritual solace. The Aurobindo Ashram has grown into a center for the practice of Integral Yoga and deservedly Pondicherry plays host to the International Yoga Festival held in the first week of January every year.
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
July 20, 2000
From journal Pondicherry - Portrait of a magical town