On a Friday evening we started from Bangalore around 5 PM. Our overnight halt was at Ramana Residency Hotel in Thiruvannamalai which we reached around 9 PM. After a sumptuous breakfast at Hotel Kanna the next morning we started towards Auroville around 10 AM. The road was excellent. On the way we stopped to watch the Gingee fort which has been a witness to many bloody battles. Today the ruins are surrounded by lush green fields. A Black Drongo arrived on the scene promptly and posed for us. We managed to reach Auroville around 12 PM.
Auroville is an experimental township located a little north of Pondicherry. Auroville’s intent is to have people from multiple cultures, nationalities and sensibilities live together in harmony and peace without being affected by religion, politics and the likes. Auroville is governed by the Auroville Foundation. This foundation, and not individuals, owns the properties in the township. More details on Auroville can be read on the wikipedia. The roads within Auroville are private and in many parts are not paved dirt roads. Cycling is a common mode of transport within the township.
Visitor Center is the nerve center of this township and any visitor will begin from here. If you want to stay at Auroville, there are a set of guesthouses, of different budgets. You will find the guesthouses listed at www.aurovilleguesthouses.org. We chose the Afsanah Guest house based on our preference and availability.
Afsaneh Guest House
The place looked promising in the pictures online and it lived up to our expectations. The architect Poppo has designed the whole place marvelously! The whole setting blends well with the surrounding. The elegant Japanese cottages were a delight with lots of space. The decor was impressive. Another highlight of the architecture is the impressive Lotus pond next to the dining area. The only thing that we didn’t like here was the bland food that we had here for our breakfast.
We had a good time watching birds from the terrace atop the dining area. An early morning walk within the property yielded sightings of a few birds. The sightings included Black Drongo, Yellow-billed Babbler, Rufous Treepie, Loten’s Sunbird, Jungle Crow, Greater Coucal, Common Iora and White-browed Bulbul. We need to head back here someday and spend more time.
The Matri Mandir which translates to the temple of the mother is dedicated to the mother of the Aurobindo Ashram. It is located in a huge open space and can be seen from the highway itself at certain points. It looks like a massive golf ball that is golden in colour. There is an inner chamber for meditation where entry is restricted. Visitors can walk around the garden but it was closed when we went. We had to be content gazing at it from outside the fence.
On the day of our arrival here we headed to the Visitor’s Center for our lunch. The restaurant here serves some awesome European food! The desserts were a delight too. For dinner we headed to Roma’s Kitchen but decided to stop at Tanto’s Pizzeria on the way instead. Our choice proved to be right as the Pizzas were delicious. The desserts were also good here.
We started from Auroville around 12 PM and took the East Coast Road (ECR) to head to Chennai. The road was good and scenic as a result of which our drive was pleasant. We saw the Bay of Bengal at regular intervals when there were no obstructions. Other notable views were that of the Salt Pans and Backwaters. This road passes through Alamparai Fort and Mahabalipuram. We did not stop anywhere as we had to reach Chennai by evening. Need to head back here some day was the thought in our minds throughout this trip.