A weekend trip to Puducherry is never complete without a visit to Auroville, the City of Dawn. But what makes this experimental township so special and different from the others? It is almost like a gated community, for starters. Almost 53 years ago, Auroville was born with a thought: a universal town that does not segregate on any aspect.
Auroville is also often called the City of Future because it is a whole different world there. The people of Auroville do not own anything there, as they are volunteers who work for the greater good. They also do not use any currency! Instead, they use a debit-card lookalike, an Aurocard, for their transactions. The people of Auroville also get access to free healthcare,
electricity, and schooling. The schools do not conduct examinations, and the students can take up subjects of their own liking.
So how do they sustain themselves? Apart from getting regular donations from the Indian government, they also get revenue from daily visitors and guests. These funds are then used to continue research in some of the most sustainable agricultural practices found in India. They are particularly experts in securing wind and solar energy and continue new projects to
decrease water wastage in crop cultivation, among others. Their afforestation and reforestation campaigns have also worked supremely well.
Named after Sri Aurobindo, a person of great importance during the Indian Independence Struggle, Auroville also has French roots, with Aurore meaning dawn, and Ville meaning city. It exists in the Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu, but also extends to Puducherry. Founded by Mirra Alfassa, a spiritual follower of Sri Aurobindo, and designed by architect Roger Anger, this township came into existence on the 28th of February in 1968. Alfassa was commonly called the Mother. The Matrimandir, located in the middle of the town, is the peaceful symbol of divine mediation, and peace has to be maintained around the area.
The Auroville Charter, which had four points, handwritten in French by the Mother, was pretty straightforward too. It speaks about how Auroville doesn’t belong to anyone, and that it is a place which offers never-ending learning and acts as a bridge between all the things that have been learned in the past, and can be learned in the future. The Matrimandir has a
solar power plant built-in. They don’t use paper currency. They conduct extensive research on afforestation, sustainable cultivation, and water resource management. These things snowball into one conclusion, that is, Auroville is building upon its foundation and living up to its destiny of being a City of Future, and a sustainable one too!