Saturday, 11 June 2011

Auroville: The City of Dawn

We’ve just got back from a short vacation in Auroville. For a nature lover, this town provides plenty to see and experience. Auroville, the international township, is a two hour ride from Chennai. Formed in 1968, this experimental township was built with the support of people from 124 nations. Even today, it draws like-minded people from all over the world. The community aspires towards "human unity" and a utopia as envisioned by "The Mother".
Commonly Found Flowers in Auroville -- From L to R: Pink Hibiscus, White Hibiscus, Blood Lily,
Crossandra, Unknown, Anthurium,
Unknown, Water Lily, Winka

Commonly Found Fruit in Auroville.
From L to R: Cashew, Pineapple, Lime,
Papaya, Banana, Mango
For me, Auroville is where I reconnect with nature; a place where I can rejuvenate my  mind, body and soul. It’s where I invariably meet interesting people from around the world. It’s where I can have scrumptious croissants and satisfying organic meals. It’s where I discover a new flower or leaf, every time I take a walk.  It’s where my son and I could sing the Bare Necessities Song with true feeling.
My Son Calls These Red Cockroaches!
Pretty Leaves: Name Unknown
Though the guest house we lived in was basic and lacked modern comforts, it was enveloped in greenery and natural beauty. And despite the unhurried pace and rustic charm of the place, there are so many fresh ideas and innovations taking shape in Auroville. If ever, the best of the old world meets the best of the new, it will be here.
Outdoor Dining Area at the Guest House
Horseman at the Village Temple
Energising Water
Harnessing the Wind: One of the Many Wind Mills
Being used to living in an overcrowded city, even the everyday rural sights of Auroville, struck me as marvelous. Sights included: a goat casually giving birth by the roadside, a grown cow threatening to butt an annoying dog, a temple pond completely covered with several hundred pink lotuses and clusters of cashew nut trees tempting me with their low-hanging fruits. While I savoured these visuals, I wasn’t always prepared to capture them with my lens. However, here are a few good shots I did manage to take.
Golden Shower Tree

Modern Art: Wasp Nest
Low-hanging Fruit: Jackfruit Tree
Puppies at the Auroville Bakery
While we spent most of our time at Auroville, we also visited nearby Pichavaram, where the world’s second largest mangrove forests are located. Here’s a link of the virtual tour of the forest. (Click on the autorotate option for a 360 degree view.) Mangrove forest trees are unique in that they can tolerate the high salinity of the sea water that they are rooted in. Besides the captivating beauty of the forest, it has a protective role to play as well. The Pichavaram forest has earned the gratitude of locals as it protected their coast during the Killer Tsunami of 2004. It's hard to imagine the vastness and beauty of Pichavaram through these pictures, but here they are all the same.
Pichavaram Mangrove Forest
Rowing Through One of the Passages

Specially Adapted Root System
Note: I shall be happy if you can help me identify any of the unnamed flora and fauna or correct me if I've been wrong.


  1. Sounds like an amazing place to go. I've experienced mangrove swamps at first hand - a very difficult environment!

  2. vasanti said:

    Nice pictures - especially the pineapple plant and the jackfruit tree. Those lucky puppies seem to have feasted on many scrumptious croissants and cakes!

    And thanks for reminding me about the bare necessities of life. Clicked on that and enjoyed watching that video again.

  3. Sounds like a great place to rejuvenate. I liked the photo of the jackfruit. We have mangrove forests in the southeastern United States that I have been in. It was somewhat scary.

  4. I went to Pondicherry a few years ago and although it was a day trip, I loved it! I've never heard of Pichavaram. I hope I can visit it some day. Looks fascinating! Nice mosaics of the fruits and flowers. The pattern on the wasps's nest is beautiful. Glad you included the full view of the Golden Shower tree. Here, they mostly grow next to buildings and with the overhead wires, full shots do not look good at all.

    P.S. As I write this my husband is in Pondicherry after dropping off our younger son at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. My son plays the drums and he's there for a week's summer camp.

  5. Hi Kanak, Pichavaram is a hidden gem. Though I've lived in Tamil Nadu for 6 years now, it was only recently that I heard of it. It's because tourism hasn't been encouraged at Pichavaram. But this might change; I saw a tourist dept. guest house that's nearing completion, close to the jetty.

  6. Fabulous! Auroville's builders deserve great applause for their devotion to manifesting human unity and spiritual aspiration on Earth..