Auroville is an experimental township located in the Viluppuram district, primarily in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, with certain parts in the Union Territory of Pondicherry. The township was established in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa and was designed by architect Roger Anger.
Auroville is an experimental township located in Tamil Nadu, India. The city was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, a French-Indian spiritual leader who was also known as “The Mother”.
The vision behind Auroville was to create a universal town where people from all over the world could come and live together in harmony, regardless of their nationality, religion, or social background.
The city covers an area of 20 square kilometers and is home to over 2,500 people from 49 different countries. The residents of Auroville follow the principles of “The Mother” and Sri Aurobindo, an Indian philosopher and spiritual leader.
The main goal of Auroville is to promote human unity, spiritual growth, and sustainable living.
One of the unique features of Auroville is its governance structure. The city is governed by the Auroville Foundation, which is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Indian government.
The Foundation is responsible for maintaining the city’s infrastructure, managing its finances, and promoting its development. The residents of Auroville participate in decision-making through various committees and groups.
Auroville is known for its sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
The city has several green initiatives, such as solar power, organic farming, waste management, and water conservation. The city also has several eco-friendly buildings that are designed to blend in with the natural environment.
The city has several educational institutions that offer courses in a wide range of subjects, including sustainable living, organic farming, and traditional Indian crafts. Auroville is also home to several cultural and artistic institutions, such as the Auroville Theatre Group, the Auroville Arts Centre, and the Auroville Radio.
Tourism is an important industry in Auroville, with visitors coming from all over the world to experience the city’s unique culture and lifestyle.
Visitors can stay in one of the city’s guesthouses, which are run by the residents, and participate in various activities, such as yoga classes, meditation sessions, and workshops on sustainable living.
Auroville is a unique and fascinating experiment in sustainable living and human unity. The city’s commitment to eco-friendly practices, spiritual growth, and cultural exchange makes it a truly remarkable place to visit and learn from.
Auroville, also known as the City of Dawn. Auroville has its origins in the French language, “Aurore” meaning dawn, and “Ville” meaning village/city. Additionally, it is named after Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950).
At its Annual Conference in 1964 and with Mirra Alfassa as its Executive President, the Sri Aurobindo Society in Pondicherry passed a resolution for the establishment of a city dedicated to the vision of Sri Aurobindo.
Alfassa was the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, who believed that “man is a transitional being”.
Alfassa expected that this experimental “universal township” would contribute significantly to the “progress of humanity towards its splendid future by bringing together people of goodwill and aspiration for a better world”.
Alfassa also believed that such a universal township will contribute decisively to the Indian Renaissance.
A site, approximately 20 square km of a barren wasteland, some 10 km north of Pondicherry and 5 km from the coast, was chosen for the city. The inauguration ceremony attended by delegates of 124 nations was held on Wednesday 28 February 1968.
Handwritten in French by Mirra Alfassa, its four-point charter set forth her vision of integral living.
- Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
- Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and of a youth that never ages.
- Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within,
- Auroville will boldly spring toward future realizations.
- Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual research for a living embodiment of actual human unity.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Auroville on 28 February 2018, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind sent a message to the community in which he called Sri Aurobindo “one of modern India’s greatest sages”.
He also wrote that Auroville “represents humanity’s aspiration for peace and goodwill” and that it is “a unique symbol of human unity”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville on 25 February 2018. After a meditation in the Matrimandir and participation in some functions, he gave a speech in the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium.
He referred to the Auroville Charter and the basic principles of life in the community. Then he said, “Indian society is fundamentally diverse. It has fostered dialogue and a philosophic tradition.
Auroville showcases this ancient Indian tradition to the world by bringing together global diversity.” At the end of his speech, he expressed his wish that Auroville may continue developing and supporting new and creative ideas for India and the whole world.
Before 1980, the Sri Aurobindo Society legally owned all of the city’s assets. In 1980, the Government of India passed the Auroville Emergency Provision Act 1980, under which it took over the city’s management.
The change was initiated when, after Mirra Alfassa died in 1973, serious fissures in the day-to-day management developed between the Society and the city’s residents. The residents appealed to Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India for an intervention.
The Society challenged the Government’s action in the Supreme Court of India. The final verdict upheld the constitutional validity of the government’s action and intervention.
In 1988, after the verdict, a need was felt to make a lasting arrangement for the long-term management of Auroville. The city’s representatives along with Sh. Kireet Joshi, then Educational Advisor to the Union government, met for consultations with the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.
Later that year, the Auroville Foundation Act 1988, was passed by the Indian Parliament.
The Act stipulated the vesting of all movable and immovable assets of the city in a foundation, known as the Auroville Foundation and the creation of a three-tier governing system: the Governing Board; the Residents’ Assembly, and the Auroville International Advisory Council.
The Governing Board selected by the Government of India consists of seven prominent Indians in the fields of education, culture, environment, and social service in the areas of Auroville’s ideals.
The International Advisory Council comprises five members also selected by the Government, chosen from people who have rendered valuable service to humanity in the areas of Auroville’s ideals. The Resident’s Assembly consists of all official residents of the city.
All three governing bodies are meant to work in harmony and collaborate to accomplish the ideals of Auroville as mentioned in the charter, as per processes defined in the Auroville Foundation Act
The Auroville Foundation, headed by a chairman, is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The HRD ministry appoints seven members of the Governing Board and five members of the International Advisory Council.
There is also a Secretary to the Foundation, appointed by the Government of India, who resides and has an office with supporting staff in Auroville. The Foundation currently owns about half of the total land required for the township.
The remaining lands are being purchased whenever funds are available.
The township was originally intended to house 50,000 residents. In the initial 20 years, only about 400 individuals from 20 countries resided in the township. In the next 20 years, this number rose to 2,000 individuals from 40 countries.
As of January 2018, it has 2,814 residents (2,127 adults and 687 children) from 54 countries with two-thirds from India, France, and Germany. The community is divided up into neighborhoods with Tamil, English, French, and Sanskrit names:
- La Ferme
The Matrimandir is a golden metallic sphere in the center of town.
The Matrimandir was conceived by Alfassa as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection”. Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquility of the space, and the entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called the Peace area.
Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as “a place to find one’s consciousness”.
Matrimandir is equipped with a solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens. When there is no sun, the sunray on the globe is replaced by a beam from a solar-powered light.
Radiating from this center are four “zones” of the City Area:
- Residential Zone
- Industrial Zone
- Cultural (& Educational) Zone
- International Zone
Around the city or the urban area, lies a Green Belt which is an environmental research and resource area and includes farms and forestries, a botanical garden, a seed bank, medicinal and herbal plants, water catchment bunds, and some communities.
Auroville works closely together with the surrounding villages, where mainly Tamil people reside, via the Auroville Village Action Trust under which many different projects including the villages fall.
The biggest one under the trust is the Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG), which has programs for women’s empowerment, education, and financial support, and also sells its products in the name of AVAL, Surya, and Kudumbam as social enterprise work.
Other activities falling under the trust are the Life Education Centre, Auroville Industrial School, Mohanam cultural center, Auroville Health Services, Deepam School for handicapped children, Thamarai community center, Martuvam Healing Forest, and the “Reach for the Stars!” a program enabling higher education for village youth.
Concerns exist because of violence allegedly caused by criminal elements entering the surrounding villages.
It is included in the sub-humid tropics (wet-and-dry tropical climate) situated on a plateau region with a maximum elevation of 32 m above sea level located in the Matrimandir area.
The annual rainfall average is 1,200 mm mainly from the SW monsoon (June to Sept.) and NE monsoon (Nov to Dec) with a dry period of approx 6 months. The average maximum temperature is 32.2 °C, average minimum of 20 °C.
Auroville is composed of a cluster of properties some 12 km north of Pondicherry. It can be easily reached via the East Coast Road (ECR) which connects Chennai and Pondicherry.
The visitor center and Matrimandir can be reached by traveling 6 km westwards from the signposted turnoff at the ECR Bommayapalayam. Turning east leads directly to Auroville’s private beach called Repos, several hundred meters away.