Auroville - or the ‘City of Dawn ’ - was conceived as a place of research into the ideal of human unity by the Mother, the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo. The idea is to build a futuristic city where people of goodwill can live together in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. Auroville came into existence in 1968. Its Charter says, “To live in Auroville one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness”, and describes it as “belonging to nobody in particular, but to humanity as a whole”; as a place “of constant progress”; and as “a bridge between the past and the future.”
Located around 8 kms north-west of Puducherry, Auroville was designed by the French architect Roger Anger. Around 2,000 people live there in settlements with names like Grace, Fraternity, Fertile, Certitude and Transformation. Nearly two-thirds of the residents are non-Indians.
Architecturally speaking the buildings are a combination of modern western and traditional Indian elements, set in a rural landscape of deep red earth and widespread forestation, with narrow earth roads linking the settlements. The residents are involved in agriculture, administration, commerce and handicrafts, alternative technology, education, healthcare and development projects, the latter including AuroRE Systems, an international award winning unit involved in solar photovoltaic and thermal systems.
The central Matrimandir, which is not a temple but a place for individual silent concentration, is set in an area of 62 acres at the centre of the emerging township, and is seen as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection. Union with the Divine manifesting in a progressive human unity.”