Culture, Go now, India, Offbeat, Reviews, Tamil Nadu, Travel Tips, Unique Places to Stay
Comments 114

A Guide to Auroville: Things to Know Before You Go.

Auroville matrimandir

Over 2 years ago, when I quit my corporate job to follow my dream to travel the world, I didn’t imagine I would one day land up in a township dedicated to the same ideology. Auroville is it. A place where people come to live their dreams. I’ve come across countless stories; of a market researcher turned organic farmer; a policeman turned village school headmaster; a corporate honcho turned teacher; a teacher turned mechanic. It’s a place to ditch the life you’ve lived, and live the life you’ve always wanted, even if for a few days; here your conviction to follow your passion holds more value than your salary or title (Read: Auroville: Utopia or Something Like it).

Auroville is not a place to “see” on a day trip from Pondicherry. It is a place to stay and soak in the spirit of doing the things you really love. Take my guide and  stay here awhile, indulge in delicious organic food, volunteer, cherish the freedom, and live a little.

ESSENTIALS

  • The Auro Card. People living in Auroville give you the impression that other than the visitor’s centre, no cafes or restaurants accept cash. We quickly got our guesthouse to make us an Auro Card, against a 500 rupees deposit, and loaded it with cash at the financial services centre. A few days into our stay, we realized that the Auro Card system is dwindling, and barring Solar Kitchen and La Terraza, all others accept cash. While cashless living is fun, it’s not necessary.
  • The daily contribution. All outsiders living in Auroville are required to make a contribution of 100 rupees a day to Auroville. Most guesthouses include this in their lodging costs, but some don’t, so check ahead.
  • Connectivity. Airtel and Vodafone don’t work too well in Auroville; BSNL might. Cafes like La Terraza, Farm Fresh and Tanto have an Auroville hotspot for internet, for which you can buy vouchers. Arka and Kopi Bar offer Wifi at 20-25 rupees an hour.
  • Best time to visit Auroville. The region experiences really hot days throughout the year. I loved my time here in the northeast monsoon season (late October to November); it rained at night and remained breezy and cloudy all day.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Arka. Conveniently located in the residential zone, Arka is where I spent stayed most of my time in Auroville. The guesthouse campus is beautifully landscaped with grassy hills and natural wilderness, the rooms are spacious, minimalistic and airy, the staff is very helpful, and it is one of the few guesthouses in Auroville with an internet room. It gets booked out weeks in advance though, so call early.
  • Gaia’s Garden. A bit further from the main town area, Gaia’s is a beautiful hideout set amid a lush garden. The rooms are small but come with big airy windows; you wake up to the fresh smell of the greenery and a gentle sunlight pouring into the room.
  • You can also browse guesthouses and apartments in Auroville to see new offerings.

Also read: Awe-Inspiring Hideouts in Uttarakhand to Tune Out of Life and Tune Into the Mountains

Auroville guest house, Auroville guest houses, Arka Auroville

My hideout in Auroville, at Arka.

WHERE TO EAT

  • Well Cafe. My absolute favorite lunch hangout, in the forest zone of Auroville. Their homemade bean burgers, falafels, hummus, salad – everything on the Israeli menu is to die for. They also work to empower women from nearby villages, by retailing funky accessories handmade with recycled materials.
  • Naturellement. Also hidden away in the forest zone, Naturellemont is a haven for homemade pastas. Transport yourself to Europe with their pesto pasta and open-faced Scandinavian sandwiches, in an open air garden setting.
  • Frite Corner. Often overshadowed by Tanto next door, Frite Corner is a favorite hangout among locals for its sinfully good fries and grilled sandwiches. A must try!
  • Farm Fresh. My favorite place to grab a snack. The baguette sandwiches and Italian toast live up to its name; farm fresh goodness.
  • Le Morgan. Located at the Town Hall, Le Morgan has an eclectic combination of simple South Indian fare and french dishes to sample, starting with fresh idlis for breakfast. Finger licking good!
  • Solitude Farm. It takes the goodness of organic food to a whole new level. Fresh produce from the organic farm is cooked in South Indian style and served up with the local rice. I had one of my best local meals here, of banana flower, curries and rice. Prior reservation is needed.

*Note: Most restaurants and cafes in Auroville close by 5:30 pm.

Well Cafe Auroville, Auroville food, Auroville cafes

In Israeli food heaven at Well Cafe in Auroville.

TEA and WIFI

  • La Terraza. On the terrace above Solar Kitchen, Le Terraza was my favorite cafe to read or write; you can buy a Wifi voucher from the Blue Light Browsing Centre next door. They serve up possibly the best iced tea in all of Auroville, and the half and half mushroom and hummus sandwiches are delightful too. Note that you can only pay with the Auro Card here.
  • Kopi Bar. As the name suggests, it’s a coffee bar. Famed to have the best cold coffee in Auroville, Kopi’s is a quiet hangout near Farm Fresh, with super fast Wifi at 20 rupees an hour.
La Terraza auroville, Auroville food, Auroville blog, Auroville cafes

On the open air terrace of La Terraza.

WHERE TO VOLUNTEER

  • Buddha GardenI spent some time learning about the sustainable food practices at Buddha Garden, owned by an English lady who moved to Auroville 19 years ago, after 25 years in market research. Her journey is inspiring, as is learning about and volunteering on a farm that is 100% organic. They make their own compost, experiment with pest control remedies, and have plenty of work for volunteers. Volunteering hours are from 6:15 to 9:00 am, and every Monday morning, Priya holds an ‘introduction to sustainable farming’ session. They offer rustic accommodation for volunteers at 200 rupees a day, and can customize volunteer programs for long term volunteers and big groups.
  • Sadhana Forest. I haven’t spent time there myself, but heard so much about them. They have quite a structured volunteer program, that focusses on reforestation on severely eroded land. Sadhana Forest is located deep in the forest zone of Auroville, so the only way to volunteer is to stay there. They charge 9,500 rupees for a month long stay, covering basic accommodation and food for volunteers.
Auroville volunteer

Photo: Sadhana Forest.

THINGS TO DO

  • Visit the MatrimandirThe giant ferrero rocher-like building that the township of Auroville is built around is an experience in itself. It’s a bit like being in a spaceship themed on the color white. The ceiling, walls, pillars, carpets, cushions, everything is white. A single ray of sunlight streams through the roof, upon a crystal that sits in the centre of the meditation area; beautiful architecture! Unfortunately, outsiders can only visit Matrimandir with a prior booking (it often gets full 2 days in advance) at the visitor’s centre, and in a big group. Not ideal for meditation, but a worthwhile experience nonetheless!
  • Local events. There are plenty of things to try, learn and experience during your stay in Auroville; foreign movie screenings at the town hall, eco movie screenings at Sadhana Forest, pizza nights with the Youth Club, discussions on Auroville-related subjects, pottery classes, yoga classes, short term volunteering in schools, farms, forests and conservation initiatives, language and dance classes, and more. Refer to the resources listed below to find these opportunities.
  • Auroville Beach. The coast of Auroville is lined with soft, golden and black volcanic sand, on the shores of a roaring sea. Know a better way to spend an introspective evening?
Auroville beach, Auro beach, Auroville photos

The soft sand beach at Auroville.

HOW TO GET AROUND

  • Motorbike. The easiest way to get around Auroville, though not the most eco-friendly. Your guesthouse can arrange a bike (Activa or moped) for 100 rupees a day for over a week’s rental.
  • Bicycle. My stay in Auroville coincided with the monsoon season (November), and given that most routes in Auroville are unpaved mud roads, cycling wasn’t a very practical option. In drier days, you can rent a local bicycle at your guesthouse or from the kiosk at the visitor centre.
  • Taxi. I found David and his car to be very reliable to transfer us and our backpacks from Pondicherry to Auroville. He charges 300 rupees per trip and is a great guy. Call him with my reference, at +91 9443 278 029 for all your transport needs within the region.
Auroville photos, Auroville Pondicherry, Auroville blog

Driving along the red sand roads of Auroville.

AUROVILLE RESOURCES

Guest Houses in AurovilleA list of Auroville-approved guesthouses in the township, along with their contact information.

Auroville News and NotesUpdated weekly, a round of events and screenings happening in Auroville that week.

Volunteering in Auroville: Visit the Guest Services centre above Solar Kitchen for a list of all on-going initiatives and volunteering opportunities at Auroville. Also keep an eye out on the notice boards at various cafes.

Auroville volunteer, Auroville photos, Auroville blog

Clean energy initiatives in Auroville. Photo: Abhijit Shylanath.

Would you like to spend some quality time in Auroville? Why or why not?

Join The Shooting Star on  FacebookTwitter and Instagram for more travel stories and tips from around the world.

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter to receive travel inspiration in your inbox!

ALSO READ:

24 Hours in Bangalore
Khajuraho: Love in The Time of Chandelas
10 Life Lessons From 2 Years of Travelling

Featured image by Okramesh.

114 Comments

  1. Such a comprehensive guide to Auroville. Thanks for sharing Shivya! Love your quaint little hideout by the way! I would love to while away my time here with a book and a hammock 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great. Auroville really does represent the lifestyle so many of us long to live. Maybe it will spread 😀
    Thanks for the volunteer info. Both the options look damn good!!

    Like

  3. Thank you for this, Shivya. I am currently planning my trip/volunteer program with Auroville and this is more than helpful 🙂

    Like

  4. Frankly, Auroville doesn’t sound like an exciting place to me, but the way you have presented it intrigues me a little bit. 🙂 It’s a very helpful guide for anyone who would like to visit Auroville. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  5. I have been to Auroville on a flying visit and, like you say, it isn’t the best way to visit the place. I got only a feel of the place, but could not really understand it. I got very good vibes from Auroville though, and would love to stay there for a while and really delve deeper into it.

    Your guide is wonderful and I am sure it will prove very useful. Thanks!

    Like

  6. klesha nashini says

    A Lovely read ! I have been meaning to stay/volunteer here for sometime now. Your write up has answered most of my questions. Thanks loads for the guidance.

    Like

  7. Ruchi says

    Hey…perfect timing…I have planned a trip to Pondy..in Xmas week…and seems its just 8-9 kms to go to Auroville from Pondy…Hope I can go for a day …food is a big welcome…and I m a veggie too…so 🙂 hope this is going to be fun. thanks for all the information..

    Like

  8. Great post Shivya! so much awesome information, i already have it bookmarked for when i finally make it there! It’s a shame we didn’t get to meet in Goa, now I’m actually driving better and could have made it to meet you :/

    Like

  9. Neel Shah says

    I will be visiting Pondicherry early Jan. Should I cancel my hotel for a day in Pondicherry and stay in Auroville or will a day trip do?
    Much appreciated 🙂

    Like

  10. Very good write up on Auroville. ‘The Centre for Third Gender’ is a place to visit when you are in Auroville. It is situated at Kottakarai village and is close to Ganesh Bakery.

    Like

  11. Pingback: My 13 “Incredible India” Moments in 2013. | The Shooting Star

  12. George says

    Dear Shivya,
    Thank you for your informative article on Auroville. I am visiting Auroville earth institute for a week in February 2014. Do you recommend to stay in Puducherry or Auroville? I found a non a/c room in auroville and an a/c one in Puducherry matching my budget. Could not decide which one to take. I have travel by auto to auroville if i stay in the city.

    Thanks in advance…

    Like

  13. When you are getting bored at your office desk, you can take off with this
    app, check out our galaxy, and even travel through time.

    If you are a local dealer or business owner, use Yelp to define and reach out to your most likely business prospects.

    MobileRSS- Subscribe to websites or blogs to view them online.

    Like

  14. Hey would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re
    using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must say this blog
    loads a lot quicker then most. Can you suggest a good web
    hosting provider at a honest price? Thank you, I appreciate
    it!

    Like

  15. It isn’t typical train to connect economics with jurassic park builder triche.
    Commonly, jurassic park builder triche 2014 could be
    thought to have no affect on our economic situation, however at this time
    there are in reality some outcomes. The product sales market linked to jurassic park builder triche android is actually a 3.

    Like

  16. Heya! I understand this is sort of off-topic but I had to
    ask. Does building a well-established website such as yours require a massive
    amount work? I am completely new to operating a blog however I do write in my journal on a daily basis.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Thankyou!

    Like

  17. Usually I do not learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me
    to take a look at and do so! Your writing taste has been
    amazed me. Thank you, very great article.

    Like

  18. Hi there! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I had to ask.
    Does building a well-established blog like yours require a large amount of work?

    I’m brand new to writing a blog however I do write in my journal
    on a daily basis. I’d like to start a blog so I
    will be able to share my personal experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers.
    Appreciate it!

    Like

  19. Great blog you have here but I was curious if you knew
    of any message boards that cover the same topics discussed here?

    I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get feedback from other experienced individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me
    know. Kudos!

    Like

  20. I blog quite often and I truly thank you for your content.
    Your article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once per week.
    I subscribed to your Feed too.

    Like

  21. Hello, i believe that i noticed you visited my web site
    thus i got here to return the want?.I’m trying to in
    finding things to improve my web site!I assume
    its adequate to make use of a few of your ideas!!

    Like

  22. Attractive component of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to
    claim that I acquire actually enjoyed account your weblog
    posts. Any way I will be subscribing for your augment or even
    I achievement you get right of entry to consistently quickly.

    Like

  23. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button!
    I’d certainly donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your
    RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh
    updates and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

    Like

  24. Thanks for any other fantastic post. Where else could anyone get that type of information in
    such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week,
    and I am at the search for such info.

    Like

  25. Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?

    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Thanks

    Like

  26. You really make it appear really easy along with your presentation but I find this topic to be really one thing that I believe I’d by no means understand.

    It sort of feels too complicated and extremely wide for me.
    I’m taking a look forward for your next submit, I’ll attempt to get
    the cling of it!

    Like

  27. It’s like you read my thoughts! You appear to understand lots in regards to this,
    like you wrote the e-book in it or something. This is a wonderful blog.
    I’ll certainly be back.

    Like

  28. Was initially in actual fact searching for just an
    ordinary shower enclosures during which I came across this fabulous site,
    did not have any idea there was such a thing as a ‘steam shower
    enclosure’, incredible, might possibly just have to have one

    Like

  29. Pingback: Eat, Pray, Love in Gangtok. | The Shooting Star

  30. parule says

    Hey, Thanks for the comprehensive blog on Auroville. I am planning to visit there for 10 days in the month of August. 😀 Meanwhile, I have also sent you a mail regarding the details. Do check and reply soon!

    xoxo!

    Like

  31. The arcade games, adventure and fantasy games can really broaden the children’s minds, show them new worlds, and
    even help them develop their fantasies. Summertime
    at Parris Island, South Carolina is a sweltering mix of heat,
    humidity, sand fleas and continuous chaos. Vancouver Hockey Camps offers lessons
    and training that teaches kids and youth competitive hockey skills designed to improve overall individual and team playing ability.
    If you have some time for prep work, try cooking some of your meats in advance
    and freezing them, allowing them to keep longer (and help keep other food
    cold). Flexibility will also be improved, thus less injury for boot camp trainees, in the long run, of course.
    What legal procedures are used if troublesome or illegal problems arise.
    Sometimes the pilot may only fly a couple of scientists.
    Preschoolers are certain to experience some of these fun treats, and will be happy to learn more about
    them. They have to be friendly and candid to make kids
    comfortable. Have them go with siblings or friends; the
    buddy system helps ease a younger child’s mind if they know they have someone with them.

    Like

  32. Shock hair loss is generally caused by physician error when doing
    the treatment, so picking a physician who
    understands exactly what they are doing is essential.
    If the drugs damage cell activity during the anagen phase, then hair
    loss is noticeable within a couple of weeks. These products work the
    best in younger men who have only begun to lose their hair, and in those whose androgenetic alopecia is still in the early stages where
    hair is thinning but continuing to grow.

    Like

  33. With so many choices in the food menu, you will sure to find one meal that love
    to eat. s book, one of his claims is that the diencephalon will
    function properly in the burning of fat after
    the protocol is complete because of the HCG [5]. Part of the reason for the Food and Drug Administration not allowing this
    substance to be sold over the counter pertains to how the diet works.

    Like

  34. Two questions frequently asked by Network Marketers are What
    kind of business records do I have to keep for
    the IRS. Prepare an application for Tax-ID number, if needed.
    There are many accounting software available these days.

    Like

  35. Pair these with pea coats, cardigans or cashmere scarves in muted shades.
    The custom made should be able to draw the sketches in particulars.
    Vibrant shades and also prosperous gentle sense from the
    scarves can make your style and also salad dressing noticeable, even a crowd.

    Like

  36. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or
    if it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Like

  37. I’m extremely plesed to find this great site. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this faantastic read!!
    I definitely loved every part of it and I have you saved as a favorite
    to look at new information in your web site.

    Like

  38. Pingback: 6 Offbeat Experiences Near Hampi. | The Shooting Star

  39. I got what you imply, many thanks for posting. I am thrilled to find this website through search engines.

    Like

  40. Wow, marvelous weblog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a
    blog for? you make blogging look easy. The total glance of your website is wonderful, as
    well as the content!

    Like

  41. My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was entirely right.
    This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent
    for this info! Thanks!

    Like

  42. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs
    I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be exciting to read through content from other writers and use something
    from other sites.

    Like

  43. sam says

    Hey really nice review … I wanted to know how I can or where I can rent an active for 100rs. Will be great if u have sum contact number. I will be travelling from Bangalore alone )

    Like

  44. Professionally established, designed, and marketed social media accounts such as Twitter and
    Facebook allow skin care companies to build
    out their skin care communities. Other commonly known terms are sub-categories of these main types.
    Its highly proficient WordPress designers and developers provide world class website design and
    development services with custom Word – Press development
    and WP themes.

    Like

  45. Pingback: Auroville, città ideale per l’umanità. | passoinindia

  46. Hey Shivya,
    Great article and info, I’m travelling to Auroville for a yoga certification with Qi Yo Yoga, and am wondering what immunizations you got?

    Namsate,
    Melanie

    Like

    • Hi Melanie, sounds interesting! I am from India so don’t have to bother with immunizations (already got the ones I needed as a child). But maybe you can refer to Lonely Planet / Wikitravel to get the list of immunizations recommended for India. Sorry can’t be of much help here, but I’m sure you’ll have a good time in Auroville!

      Like

  47. Srinivas says

    Hi Shivya,

    Very informative..and helpful to plan for anyone..

    Thanks for this wonderful effort..

    Like

  48. Pingback: Eating out in Pondy & Auroville | Ace Foodie

  49. I was a student of SRM university, Chennai so Pondi was a place frequently visited. Things I loved most were the auro beach and cycling around Auroville. It was great reading your blog about our pondi.

    Like

  50. This is very attention-grabbing, You’re a very professional blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and stay up for searching for more of your
    wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

    Like

  51. Roshan says

    Hey Shivya Nath,
    I like to idea of being a traveller, I think everyone dreams of travelling ( a lot ). I just wanted to understand where do get the money to pay your expenses, since you say you have quit your job.
    Please don’t be offended, just wanted to understand as I am fond of travelling myself

    Like

  52. Hello,
    Kindly let me know will it be worth to go Auroville for 2-3 days. I understand more time we spend more willl be better. I am from Bangalore.

    Like

    • I don’t think you can soak up much in just 2-3 days to be honest. It’s not a place to visit and see, but to stay and feel.

      Like

  53. Akash says

    We are a group of 7-8 students travelling to auroville earth institute , auroshilpam. Suggestion regarding accomodation for 2-3 nights. Should be cheap …Priority!!! What will the rough cost of accomodation per night?

    Like

  54. Blake wilkinson says

    I have just had the pleasure of visiting. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I plan to return for 14 days the next time I visit. I highly recommend to everyone who reads this to go.

    Like

  55. Rahul Patel says

    Thank you for sharing it Shivya. The way you have presented it is truly amazing. I am more excited to visit the place now.

    Cheers to life and keep up the spirit!

    Like

  56. Pingback: Volunteering in Auroville - Global Gallivanting

  57. ruchika says

    Hey just booked my trip …going to be there for 15 days …..thanks for the article…needed that one push and i got it from here 🙂

    Like

  58. Pingback: The Perfect Itinerary for Traveling in Tamil Nadu, South India - Global Gallivanting

  59. Pingback: One Day in Auroville: A Utopian Community in South India - Global Gallivanting

  60. Pingback: This spiral-shaped Indian town wants to be a government and money-free utopia | News Verge Network

  61. Pingback: India Tips: Auroville on a Budget – animusings

  62. I am reading elaborately about Auroville now only. Thank you for your helpful article. Now I am to GO and stay there for some time.

    Like

  63. I considered volunteering here, but I ended up volunteering with a British organization. I’m happy that I did. I think everyone should. Well, great post.

    Like

  64. Sunanda says

    Thanks shiya beautiful guide ur article is.m planning in 12th november 2016,thanks irs a grt help!!bless u
    Sunanda

    Like

  65. Sourabh says

    Hi Shiva, we ( 4 architects ) are visiting to Auroville on 4th of Dec.2016.for one day only.
    lets us get the 24 hours experience to share with you. We are from North of India, and heard a lot about Auroville. Thanks for the above information.
    Thanks
    Ar.Sourabh

    Like

  66. Sounds like an amazing place to visit… I heard it is the longest running ‘commune’ in the world and it’s surely rated high on my to-do list… i wonder how many people actually live there?

    Like

  67. Hey Shivya, It’s a great blog you’ve written. Lot of information. I wish I had read this before traveling to Pondicherry. However, I have made a note of certain things from your blog, so that I complete the unfinished visit on my next travel to Pondi.

    One more thing, you are an inspiration to lot of solo travelers 🙂 I have recently started traveling and writing about my experiences. If you get time to read, do visit my blog.

    Would appreciate your comments!

    Like

  68. Shivya thankyou so much for this wonderful guide! Auroville has called me! Im coming out on wednesday (18th) for 10 days from the UK at a time when I just need to not have a schedule! cant wait! are you still in auroville yourself now?

    Like

  69. Pallavi says

    This is great, thanks for sharing. I was planning to do a short solo trip of 3-4 days to Auroville, any suggestions?

    Like

  70. It’s such a happy feeling to bump into your post every time I am researching on a place. Your blogs have become a home to my pre-trip investigation for any place 🙂
    Cant thank you enough for making life so easy. 😀

    Like

  71. Vaibhav says

    this info is really helpful…can u tell me how much money required for a week.?

    Like

  72. I have a farm house about 40 kms from Auroville, but haven’t been there. Your post has kindled such an interest, that I am waiting to rush there next week. Thank you Shivya.

    Like

I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s