I discovered Auroville a few weeks before my arrival to Chennai and I was pretty excited about this spiritual township concept. I was like woooow, in this place people from 49 nations live 😮
|Ganesha temple in Pondicherry|
Since I was 14 I've had an interest in yoga, spirituality, Buddhism and Hinduism so I thought Auroville is a must-visit place but it didn’t even cross my mind that it will be the destination of my first trip.
With Puducherry (Pondicherry, Pondichéry or simply Pondy) it was love at first hearing. I mean I really loved from the beginning how the name of this place sounded and my fondness for cherries wasn't the single reason; this "small" (in Indian terms) coastal city basically represents a blend of French colonial and Indian culture and I love when cultures are mixed. 💜 For example you'll find both a Jeanne D'Arc and a Mahatma Gandhi statue, a Rue Romain Rolland and a Nehru street, a Notre Dame des Anges church and a Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
By the way Pondy was the location for Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi and the movie directed by And Lee also showcased many sites. So it is a cool novel-and-movie inspired place for vacation. 😉
When I arrived around noon to Pondy I had no idea where I am going to sleep. But maybe because I had the beginner's luck, I solved it within minutes. I booked a place in a guesthouse in Auroville for a few hundred rupees via phone. Actually getting to Auroville was harder. On the official website it said that there are buses that go from Pondicherry but I was way too excited to wait (according to the schedule the next one was to leave in about 2 and half hours). So first I took a local bus, until the junction with Auroville (horns, heat, crowd aaaah) and from there I took an auto rikshaw (auto as we use it).
And I arrived to the City of Dawn.
Auroville, according to Lonely Planet is a place that anyone with idealistic leanings will love. For me it was the first place where I forgot I am in India (on Earth or somewhere else?).
|A path in Auroville, in the middle of the forest|
Because the place indeed has a bit of unearthly feeling. Not only because it is in the middle of nowhere (actually in the middle of a forest), with an interesting architectural context but also because – although I believe efforts were made to look natural, clean and organic - it has a touch of artificiality. However it could have been a good starting point for the concept of Avatar.
Matrimandir is the main attraction of Auroville which is an edifice in the shape of a giant golden lotus flower. I didn’t get the chance to take a look at how it looks from the inside as you have to book in advance. But still, I had some impressive views:
|View of the Matrimandir|
And a nice beach. Some deserted parts. Good places to swim and to enjoy the sunlight (as I hate crowded places):
|The seaside in Auroville|
The funniest part was when I found this:
|A Hungarian soul in Auroville|
And I read about the origin of the Hungarian Soul which was a completely new story to me. According to the description, Hungarians lived on an island called Atais located between Asia and America, with a four-season Mediterranean climate and rich soil. But what is even more interesting is that our ancestors were from another planet!
And everything was great. Then what happened?
7000 years ago Atais sank and the majority of the population was shipped to China. And from there we were wondering for centuries until we have found the Carpathian Basin. 😂
What I most enjoyed in Auroville was that people were open and it was easy to get into interesting conversations (not only regarding spirituality and yoga). And from my experience a lot of people came here to overcome fears. I met somebody who was afraid to talk to strangers, then somebody who never rode a bicycle. I still don’t know if I had one. Maybe traveling alone in India.
I spent two evenings and one afternoon in Pondicherry, where alcohol is much more affordable than in Chennai (but why am I mentioning this first?). And the parties aren’t stuck in the 90’s. And the food really matched my taste. In the French quarter you can find restaurants that serve salads, quiches, crepes, cheese platters...even French pastries. Yumm. (But most of them with a touch of Indian gastronomy.)
The Goubert Avenue, the promenade and the pier are absolutely amazing. I just loved having long walks on the narrow streets surrounded by nice heritage buildings. Then listening to the sound of the sea and enjoying the view while sitting on the rocks.
|View of Pondicherry's promenade|
I tried tender coconut for the first time in Pondy. Although I was afraid that I’ll get sick. Fortunately I didn’t. And I had the best and longest conversation since my arrival when for the first time I've realized that globalization is having positive outcomes also. What I mean by this is that I could talk to people whose culture is absolutely different from mine and we still had common points and references. That sometimes belonged to a third culture. Just an example: when a Hungarian and an Indian discover that both enjoy reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This was the second time when I forgot that I am in India. Home without borders.