Get away from hectic life and find peace & tranquility in this scenic retreat located in Puducherry. Auroville is a thriving community with a multi-cultural population and has a euphoric vibe. If you’re here for a few days and plan to get the maximum of your money’s worth then plan a trip well in advance and stay away from places that might leave you feeling cheated.
Plan to Visit Auroville this year.
Places to visit:
- Martrimandir- This is the center point of the township of Auroville established in late 1960s, based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This place is open from 9 AM- 5 PM except for Sunday afternoons. The visitor center issues a free pass which gives you the permission to travel to the Matrimandir view point, just a 1 km walk from the main entrance. People with walking difficulties can go by a shuttle which is also free of cost. If you wish to visit the interiors of Matrimandir then you need to request 4-5 days in advance, except Tuesdays. Parking here is Rs.50/- for cars and more for vans and buses.
- Inside the Auroville complex one can find many up market boutiques like Kalki boutiques. They sell organic coffee, teas, honey, jams, spices, dark chocolates, candles, perfumes and many other things among clothing. These things are overpriced though they claim to practice fair trade and use 100% organic products. But you can buy similar clothes from many sellers in the main Auroville village outside the complex.
- Serenity Beach– A pristine beach dotted with fishing boats and frequented by surfers. It’s calm and quiet during the morning hours and has crystal clear waters with soft golden sand. The black rocky shore with crashing waves is a sight to behold. A few guest houses can be seen at the beach.
- Graveyard Beach– this is a hidden beach known only to locals or frequent travelers. It’s the only beach that is accessible at night time. Do not travel alone here as it is not very safe.
- Auro Beach– Located on the East Coast road this is a busy beach and in my opinion, it is avoidable. This one is not as clean as Serenity or Paradise beach. We were disappointed to see dead rotten fish, a tortoise carcass and broken bottles strewn on the beach.
Restaurants & Bakeries:
- Auroville Bakery & Restaurant– This bakery offers freshly baked breads, muffins, cookies, chocolates, biscuits, pizzas and croissants. You can find many healthy options like ragi and millet cookies, chocolate & tahini biscuits, baked orange bread, banana muffins and raisin croissants.
- Tantos- It is an Italian eatery quite popular with tourists. It’s famous for wood fired oven pizzas. We tried the Chicken Masala pizza, Strawberry Sorbet and fresh fruit Pana Cotta. The staff is nice and helpful with an eclectic mix of crowd. It remains closed on Tuesdays.
- The Greek Café- It’s a quiet little café with a selective menu. We tried the falafel, Tanapur soup & Greek Wrap. The dishes were quite hearty, delicious and the portion sizes were good. Staff was very friendly and that made the whole experience memorable.
- Bread & Chocolate- This is also a bakery that also serves breakfast, lunch and snacks. It closes by 5pm. Chocolates and truffles are expensive as are the salads. But the ambience is good and servers are very warm. Try their shakes and teas.
- Roma’s Café- This café serves north Indian food among many other things. Ask the server about the catch of the day. They serve fresh prawn and fish curry that’s to die for, as is their tandoori food.
- Dreamers Café- This café is inside the Auroville complex serving mainly breakfast and Gelato. We tried fresh fruit gelatos that were delicious. At the Promenade near rock beach in Pondicherry, one can find another Gelato corner that serves more variety of flavors.
- Farm Fresh– This place has a garden restaurant and a small grocery store selling gourmet jams, cookies and other daily needs items that you can get inside Auroville complex as well. The only downside was the service here. In rest of Auroville people were friendly and accommodating, here the serves seemed to be out of patience and in a hurry to send us packing, literally. That said, the food was good specially the dosas.
- Cycling Tour– You can rent a cycle and explore Auroville, neighboring beaches and farmlands. Enjoy the fresh air and scenic beauty of this wonderful little place.
- Shopping– There are Kashmiri shops selling clothes and silver jewelry that you can try. Don’t forget to negotiate to get good deals.
- Surfing and water sports– Serenity beach is a good place to try surfing. Ask the hotel staff for scuba diving and snorkeling packages.
- Relaxing Spa & Massage- You can find many spas offering a range of beauty services to suit every pocket.
- Volunteering at the Auroville Complex- You need to inquire at the Visitor Center to gather more information and get your aurocard*.
Things to Remember before visit auroville
- Beware of taking cabs & autos as they charge exorbitant fares for short distances. Instead rent a self drive car from Chennai or Bengaluru. Renting a bike or cycle is another economical option.
- You don’t need an Aurocard* for making transactions as most places accept cash and cards. Aurocard is mainly for solar kitchen and few restaurants in the complex.
- Shops and stores inside the complex are comparatively more expensive than in the village outside.
- It is a laidback place where most restaurants and cafes are closed for afternoon siesta. At night also most places are open only till 9-10 PM.
- Network connectivity can be a problem at some places but most hotels and guest houses have WiFi.
- Avoid beaches and other tourist attractions on weekends as you can expect large crowds from neighboring states.
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