Auroville is a place very close to my heart, as I grew up in Pondicherry. Auroville seeks to be a universal town- a town bereft of boundaries of nationality, religion or caste. It propagates humanity- it is a town which welcomes everyone who seeks peace and goodness to dwell in harmony.
Placed on the outskirts of Pondicherry (now Puducherry), this town was conceptualized by Mirra Alfassa, more popularly known as The Mother. The town has run into controversy many a time- however it is gradually taking its desired shape.
The centre of attraction of Auroville is the Matri Mandir. It took 37 years to build it. As a child I have seen it being built and now the gleaming gold structure brings back many fond memories. The four pillars of the Mandir are called Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Maheshwari. The spherical dome is studded with golden discs which reflect sunlight.
Matri Mandir: the gleaming golden ball- remember walking all the way up to the top as a kid when it was being constructed
Matrimandir: Walk up inside in total silence and experience the glow of light within when the crystal in the inner chamber lights up with the single ray of sunshine passing through it
This place uplifts your soul
This time when I was there, entry into the structure and the inner chamber was restricted. Entry is permitted for meditation in the inner chamber in the mornings, but this needs to be booked two days prior. On a previous visit, I was lucky to go inside. There is a silent walk up the spiral ramp to the top of the dome- so tranquil that you are forced to look inside yourself in that silence. When you reach there, a single crystal, illuminated by a beam of sunlight sparkles. There are no flowers, no incense, no sounds. Just a white room and a single bright sparkling light – it is as if the light suddenly illuminates your being in the darkness. The effect is ethereal.
The area around the Matri Mandir is full of gardens and is called Peace. Close to the Matri Mandir, is a lotus shaped structure in a large amphitheatre. Having spent my childhood scampering there, it was a letdown not to be permitted there any more. When the city of Auroville was inaugurated, people from 124 countries brought a handful of soil from their nations, and this is stored in the lotus shaped urn at the centre of the amphitheatre. It is symbolic of breaking down the barriers of national boundaries.
Enroute to the Matri Mandir, I went into nostalgia mode, when I saw the huge banyan tree, which The Mother called the centre of Auroville.
The ancient Banyan: Peace
For me Auroville spells tranquility, nostalgia and greenery. I have come back with loads of thoughts and of course bags full of Auroshikha agarbattis and perfumed candles, and handmade stationery and books from Shabda- the bookstore. And the words of Sri Aurobindo: The more one gives of oneself, the more the power to receive will grow.