AUROVILLE IN A GIST
If one is to imagine a picture of people belonging to 52 different nationalities residing in 100 settlements lying scattered alongside an idyllic avenue in the countryside all in one frame, well, that’s Auroville! Popularly known as the City of Dawn, Auroville is a destination…
AUROVILLE IN A GIST
If one is to imagine a picture of people belonging to 52 different nationalities residing in 100 settlements lying scattered alongside an idyllic avenue in the countryside all in one frame, well, that’s Auroville! Popularly known as the City of Dawn, Auroville is a destination that catches the fancy of those inclined toward idealistic learnings.
The sanctity of this international community lies in its dedication to peace, sustainability and divine consciousness. Located down south inland from the Coromandel coast in Tamil Nadu & Puducherry, Auroville is now set to become a universal township.
The Aurovilians hail from about 50 different countries, differing in culture, age, caste and creed, yet bonded by a common purpose, that is to represent humanity which resonates with Auroville’s vision to attain unity within diversity in the mankind.
Initially designed to accommodate half a lakh people, this serene haven now caters to a population over 2500, with residents from across the world and nearly 60% foreigners. 12km to the northwest of Puducherry, Auroville was instituted in the year 1968 by the cofounder of Puducherry’s Sri Aurobindo Ashram, referred to as ‘the Mother’, when about 5,000 people came together near the banyan tree at the center of Auroville for an inauguration ceremony attended by delegates from over a 100 nations & pan India.
Each of the representatives brought with them a handful of soil from their motherland, to be mixed into a white marble urn in the shape of a lotus that now stands at the heart of Amphitheatre.
The notion behind Auroville was to develop it into an ideal township, dedicated to an experiment in human unity.
In the mid-1960s the model was conceived and put forth before the Govt. of India, who gave accorded support and furthered it to the General Assembly of UNESCO which then, in the year 1966 passed a consensus, acclaiming it as a project of significance to the future of humanity, with a strong backing from their end.
Hence today, Auroville is acknowledged as the foremost internationally recognized continued experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness.
Moreover, it also incorporates conducting practical research in sustainable living with regards to prospective socio cultural, economic, environmental, as well as spiritual needs.
The Aurovilians are engaged in a wide variety of projects, right from organic farming, renewable energy and handicrafts production to Education and Information Technology, employing 4000 to 5000 local villagers in totality.
Over 5,000 people, mostly from the nearby localities, are employed in various sections and units of Auroville.
Other activities include afforestation, organic agriculture, basic educational research, health care, village development, appropriate technology, town planning, water table management, cultural activities, and community services.
Instead of paper and coin currency, residents are provided with account numbers connected to their central account
while the visitors are requested to get a temporary account and a debit card called as the ‘Aurocard’. Residents of Auroville are expected to furnish a monthly contribution to the community and help the members whenever possible in cash or kind through their work. The guest contribution which is a daily emolument paid by the guests of Auroville, forms an integral part of the township’s budget. In return, there is a system of maintenance wherein Aurovilians who are in need, can accept a monthly maintenance sum from the community to look after the necessities.
The Central Government owns and manages the Auroville Foundation and finances a small part of Auroville’s budget, through contributions from its commercial units. What constitutes a significant part of their profits to the township include building construction units, information technology, small and medium scale businesses, as well as the items sold in Auroville’s own shop in Puducherry – producing and re-selling items such as handmade paper for stationery items and its famous incense sticks which can be purchased or sold in and outside India.
THE CITY PLANNING
Meticulous planning and thoughtful design is where the peculiarity of this township lies. At the center of the township lies the Peace Area, comprising the Matrimandir and its gardens along with the amphitheater with the Urn of Human Unity.
Laid over 190 hectares, this zone happens to be the largest of the 4 city zones, girdled by parks on three sides. The crown road is planned to act as the main access to the zone while the 5 radial roads shall act
as sub routes, dividing the zone into sectors of increasing densities. This zone is focused on ensuring a harmonized habitat acting as a link between individual and communal living. More than half the area is dedicated for open spaces with the remaining 45% as built up, thus
maintaining a balance between urban density and nature whilst following planning standards.
This zone which is located north of the Peace Area is spread over an area of 109-hectare. It is earmarked for green industries that aim to help develop Auroville in its endeavor to become a self-supporting township. It is created to overlook the city’s administration, apart from comprising small and medium-scale industries, training centers, arts and crafts.
Designed to host national and cultural pavilions, the International Zone is a 74 hectares wide arena lying westside of the Peace Area. It emphasizes on safeguarding unity in diversity within the mankind, aligned with goals of Auroville.
Another 93 hectares have been reserved as the Cultural Zone, a place for applied research in education and artistic expression. It also caters to other facilities including and not limited to cultural, educational, arts and sports.
Although incomplete, the Green Belt is a quoted as a successful case of transformation of a wasteland into a well-functioning eco-system. Serving as lungs for the whole of Auroville, its further planned extension with an additional 800 hectares will make it into a remarkable demonstration site for soil and water conservation, ground water recharge, and environmental restoration.
The city spanning over a radius of 1.25 km will be encircled by an equivalent Green Belt 1.25 km
As a zone for organic farms, dairies, orchards, flora and fauna, this 405-hectare large belt shall not only offer a recreational space but also work as a buffer with habitats for the wildlife beside serving as a source of food, timber and medicines.
Moreover, it shall be a fertile zone for applied research in the sectors of food production, forestry, soil conservation, water management, waste management, and other areas working toward facilitating sustainable development.
Although incomplete, the Green Belt is a quoted as a successful case of transformation of a wasteland into a well-functioning eco-system.
Serving as lungs for the whole of Auroville, its further planned extension with an additional 800 hectares will make it into a remarkable demonstration site for soil and water conservation, ground water recharge, and environmental restoration.
PLANNING APPROACH AT AUROVILLE
Auroville is all set to lay a benchmark in planning settlements with deep rooted urban-rural linkages to provide a setting that vaunts of integrating both under one umbrella for a mutual wellbeing.
It shall act as a model for rapidly urbanizing Indian and foreign cities to replicate and emulate.
This would help in the formulation of an integrated masterplan for Auroville and its hinterland, wherein both city and environment, rural and urban areas would ingenuously complement each other.
The Master Plan strategy at Auroville is to determine how economic and intellectual resources, which are usually associated with urban areas, can advantageously be used to enable a balanced development and in conceiving a socially just and economically sound society.
Auroville’s perception is to lay the foundation of a city that will utilize land to meet economic requisites by pioneering development strategies with an optimum density mix, aesthetically appealing urban forms and adequate amenities.
The results of such innovative methods will be available for application in both rural and urban areas everywhere in support of their development.
WHAT PEOPLE LOVE ABOUT AUROVILLE
Rejoicing in an atmosphere of its own, Auroville is a place known for its ‘Beauty in Simplicity’. It’s a place reflecting a beautiful communion of like-minded people from all over the world who believe in mental peace and live with minimal expectations.
One of the visitors quoted his experience describing about the beautiful gardens and the inner parts of the unique spherical shaped Matrumandir, where one can meditate in a circular hall with beams of sunlight falling on a clear crystal ball creating a unique environ for meditation.
It is often written about as a thriving spiritual, sustainable and symbiotic society.
From the beautiful Auroville beach to the ancient Irumbai temple, from beautiful green villages lined with community farms to wonderful modern architecture and exciting vegan food catering to every taste bud, there are many experiences to be had here.
Every traveler must take a solo, solacing trip to this wonderful place!