Utopian communities were extremely popular in XIX c., when people wanted to create a better world – free from social stratification, injustice and restrictions. However, most of them didn‘t last more than a few years.
Auroville, established in 1968 is a place where people from all over the world come to live, volunteer or just visit. The main values of this community is equality, diversity of all religions, nations, and peace. There are about 2500 people who can call themselves as Aurovillians, also you can find a lot of local Indians working here, international volunteers and tourists.
It’s not much to see here as a tourist. The territory of the city is quite big, divided into the smaller communities that sometimes are quite far from one another. Most of the houses are hiding between the trees and it’s not easy to see something from outside. You won’t find a striking architecture here, however, some of the building are quite unique and even reminds of Star Wars.
Auroville is famous for Matrimandir, a giant bubble shaped building for meditation and concentration. In order to get a chance to see it you have to get a permit. And if you want to go inside you need another permit. They are given for anyone interested, except it could take few days while your queue will come.
Auroville seeks to have no money here, instead of that one is forced to get a card, put some money in it and use instead of cash. This card is needed only if you want to buy something from Auroville shops or restaurants, otherwise, everywhere else you can pay in cash.
Auroville was designed as a big circle, although not all the lands belong to the city and there are few local Indian – Tamil villages in all the territory. Indians, while living next to a community which is self sustainable and aware about environment, don‘t give a shit about anything. Places, where they live are full of garbage and I wonder if Aurovillians have ever tried to do something about that. One day we went to the beach, which is not far from the community and there were a lot of garbage also. I just don‘t understand how can one not appreciate nature so badly, especially when you have an example of how things should be done.
There are a lot of workshops, concerts and activities going on in Auroville everyday – so you have to choose what do you like and participate. Usually they are free, though the contribution is expected. We participated in some workshops about yoga and emotional body language and they were really interesting.
All the local Aurovillians are paid the same amount of money and it doesn‘t matter whether you are a teacher or a gardener. To become an Aurovillian is a long process not only because of bureaucracy but also to be sure that a person is motivated. Some locals work in farms, some organize workshops or do any other kind of work. Their houses are more or less usual and their live is quite ordinary. Half of the people living here are Indians, the other half – Westerners, who quit their jobs, dropped their careers or just old hippies, who want to live differently. What is not ordinary is that they are not chasing consumer society dreams, live in a place, which they maintain by themselves and don‘t have any government and executives. It is announced that, Auroville don‘t belong to anyone in particular and it is a place for peace and harmony.
The best way to explore Auroville and to understand life in there is to become a volunteer. Usually it is expected to dedicate at least two weeks for that. We didn‘t have so much time, so we just participated in workshops, went to Matrimandir, cycled around the area or just relaxed in our camp. Maybe, one day it would be nice to come back for a longer time as I quite liked this place.