Auroville, India

The most New Age place anywhere in India must surely be Auroville, the planned “City of Dawn”, 10 km north of Puducherry. Straddling the border of the Union Territory and Tamil Nadu, Auroville was founded in 1968 and inspired by “The Mother”, the spiritual successor of Sri Aurobindo. Around 1700 people live in communes (two-thirds of them non-Indians), with such names as Fertile, Certitude, Sincerity, Revelation and Transformation, in what it is hoped will eventually be an ideal city for a population of fifty thousand.

The best travel tips for visiting Auroville

Architecturally experimental buildings, combining modern Western and traditional Indian elements, are set in a rural landscape of narrow lanes, deep red earth and lush greenery. Income is derived from agriculture, handicrafts, alternative technology, educational and development projects and Aurolec, a computer software company.

Considering how little there is to see here, Auroville attracts a disproportionately large number of day-trippers. However, its inhabitants rightly point out that you can only get a sense of what the settlement is all about if you stay a while. Interested visitors are welcomed as paying guests in most of the communes, where you can work alongside permanent residents.

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Matri Mandir in Auroville, India © Shutterstock

Best things to do in Auroville

From the Matri Mandir meditation centre to the Visitor Centre, here are the best things to do in Auroville.

#1 Start off at the Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre is the focal point of any tourist visit to Auroville. You need to get tickets here for an exterior viewing of Matri Mandir, but before they are issued, you’re shown a short video presentation about the village.

The adjacent bookshop has plenty of literature on Auroville and it’s worth checking the notice board, which has details of activities in which visitors may participate (including yoga, reiki and Vipassana meditation).

The nearby Bharat Niwas houses a permanent exhibition on the history and philosophy of the settlement. There are also three quality handicraft outlets and several pleasant vegetarian cafés serving snacks, meals and cold drinks.

#2 Find peace at Matri Mandir

Begun in 1970, the space-age Matri Mandir – a gigantic, almost spherical high-tech meditation centre at the heart of the site – was conceived as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s inspiration for perfection”.

Earth from 124 countries was symbolically placed in an urn, and is kept in a concrete cone in the amphitheatre adjacent to Matri Mandir. From here, a speaker can address an audience of three thousand without amplification.

The focal point of the interior of the Matri Mandir is a 70cm crystal ball symbolising the neutral but divine qualities of light and space.

To obtain a “concentration entry” for the Matri Mandir to meditate on the crystal, you must book two days ahead.

Best areas to stay in Auroville

The information desk at the Visitor Centre is a good place to enquire about accommodation or you can contact the Auroville guest accommodation service directly. This should be done months ahead for the peak winter months.


Auroville is a popular day trip from Puducherry which has basic lodges concentrated around the main market area, Ranga Pillai St and Rue Nehru.

Trendy boutique hotels now punctuate the French Quarter too. Guesthouses belonging to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram offer good value for money but are not overly welcoming.

Browse the best hotels in Auroville.

French Quarter of Pondicherry, India © travel sojourns/Shutterstock

French Quarter of Pondicherry, India © travel sojourns/Shutterstock

Best restaurants and bars

There are many excellent privately-run restaurants dotted around the ashram and a café at the Visitor Centre. There is nowhere to buy alcohol in Auroville.

How to get around

As Auroville aims to be pollution free, it promotes walking or cycling when in the town. Here’s how to get around.

Most will explore Auroville by bicycle. Rental bikes, including e-bicycles, are available to hire from the Visitor Centre. Auroville's compact size makes it possible to explore many areas on foot.

What is the best time to visit Auroville?

Auroville can be visited year-round, although by far the most popular time is between December and March. At this time the skies are mostly blue and the weather is not as hot as it becomes from April to June.

The main summer monsoon largely misses Auroville but does receive plenty of precipitation during the northeast monsoon season from October to early December. Cyclones can be a threat at this time and sometimes cause floods.

Find out more about the best time to visit India.

Auroville in India © Shutterstock

Auroville in India © Shutterstock

How many days do you need in Auroville?

Officially there’s no lower limit on the time you have to stay, but visitors are encouraged to stick around for at least a week and to help out on communal projects. A stay of at least 3 to 5 days will get you under the town’s skin, though the vast majority of travellers come here on a day trip.

How to get here

Auroville lies 15 km north of Puducherry, off the main Chennai road. You can also get here via the coastal highway, turning off at the village of Chinna Mudaliarchavadi.

By bus

Buses from Puducherry run every 20–30 min but as Auroville is spread over some fifty square kilometres it’s best to come with your own transport.

By auto-rickshaw or taxi

From Puducherry to Auroville is a 30 min journey in an auto-rickshaw or taxi.

By tour

Alternatively, there’s the PTDC half-day tour from Puducherry.

Find out the best ways to get to India.

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Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 03.07.2023

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