Dating its history back to the 20th century, the concept of the Auroville Township was developed in June 1965 by Mirra Alfassa, who was popularly known by her followers as The Mother. She wanted to build a town where people from far and wide, irrespective of their nationality, caste, religion, and social status, can live peacefully under one roof.
The main purpose of Auroville was to highlight human unity and help mankind to advance to the next stage of supramental and spiritual consciousness from their present life of adventure. In 1968, she decided to include a Pavilion of Love or Pavilion of Truth, which was ultimately named as “Matrimandir” at the center of her town.
Designed by the famous French architect Roger Anger, the construction of the Matrimandir started in January 1970. The Mother gave node to the final design in 1971 and it took almost 37 years to complete its structure. And finally, in the year 2008, it was officially inaugurated and opened to the public.
Architecture of Matrimandir-Auroville, Puducherry
Featuring a lotus bud-shaped dome-styled spherical structure, the edifice of Matrimandir is unique in its own way. It presents a fine blend of traditional Indian and modern Western architecture that is surrounded by twelve petals and boasts a meditation chamber made of white marble floor and walls.
Located in the upper hemisphere, the inner chamber of Matrimandir has a conical roof along with a huge crystal globe in the center which radiates natural lightning every time the sunlight enters from the sky, thus helping people to focus more on meditation.
Another important aspect of the building of Matrimandir is – it is one hundred feet high with the outer walls beautifully decorated with golden discs. The four key pillars that provide support to the architecture have been positioned in four different directions (North, South, East, and West) and stand strong for the 4 important aspects of The Mother.
Other than that, you can also find 12 gardens along with an amphitheater, a Visitors Centre with an art gallery and a video theatre, a cafeteria, and several boutique shops to indulge in some shopping.
Things to do at Matrimandir-Auroville, Puducherry
Wondering what to do at Matrimandir apart from practicing meditation? Well, fret not! With so many things to do and see around the location, you can keep yourself occupied throughout the time during your visit to this place. For your convenience, we have here mentioned a few of the things that definitely need your presence and are worth exploring.
1. Take a Detailed Tour of Matrimandir: Know each and everything about the aspects of Matrimandir in detail through a guided tour. During your visit, you’ll find many people who will be happy to assist you through your course. From understanding its architecture in a broad way to the Auroville systems of beliefs, one can dig deep to gain knowledge about what exactly The Mother aimed for humanity and how her ideas were implemented.
2. Visit 12 Gardens and Amphitheatre to soak in the Beauty: Another most important thing to see within the premises of Matrimandir is its 12 gardens. All these gardens encompassing the dome represent a quality or a characteristic of The Mother and are named as Existence, Perfection, Bliss, Youth, Consciousness, Harmony, Light, Progress, Wealth, Power, Life, and Utility.
The Amphitheatre, which is filled with people almost all the time, is a great place to spend some ME time in tranquillity and offers a kind of atmosphere that lets you calm your restless mind while you disconnect yourself from the temporal world for some time. Made up of red Agra stones, the Amphitheatre invites people to stay back for a while and concentrate on their inner souls.
3. Overlook the Lush Greenery at Viewing Point: If you wish to seek a break from meditation for some time, you can proceed towards the Viewing Point. Perched to the south of the Park of Unity, the Viewing Point offers a panoramic view of the Matrimandir and gives you a chance to get one step closer to nature. The passes to admire the lush green surroundings and amazing flora and fauna at Viewing Point can be availed free of cost at the Visitors Centre.
4. Learn about Spirituality at Savitri Bhavan: Head to the Savitri Bhavan to know more about the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and his divine poetry “Savitri”. A dedicated center for spiritual education, the Savitri Bhavan provides all types of materials you need to experience a sense of human unity and organizes various activities including workshops, talks, weekly classes, film shows, guest lectures, and more to give you an insight into the vision of The Mother.
This place is also home to an art gallery that houses various paintings and a digital library where you can access audio and videos related to the creator of Auroville township. Other than that, the Savitri Bhavan also owns a reading room, a multi-purpose hall, and hostel accommodation for people volunteering at Savitri.
5. Engage Yourself in the Cultural Activities at Bharat Nivas: All those who are interested in cultural activities can pave the way towards the Bharat Nivas in Auroville. Lying in close proximity to Matrimandir, the Bharat Nivas, also referred to as the Pavilion of India, provides a home to Sri Aurobindo Auditorium, Auroville Library, Kala Kendra Gallery, Sri Aurobindo World Centre, Tamil Heritage Centre, and many more.
Here you can also discover the flavors of popular South Indian dishes at Annam Kitchen or simply choose to treat your taste buds with home-cooked Indian food at Indus Valley.
Entry Fee and Timings of Matrimandir-Auroville, Puducherry
Although you don’t need to pay anything to visit the Matrimandir in Puducherry, due to the huge influx of people, it is always recommended to make a prior booking at least one day in advance. Only in-person bookings are entertained here. That simply means that there is no usage of reserving your seat through an email, telephone, or a third-party agent. Also, Tuesdays are off for any kind of booking.
The temple is open for its visitors from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on all days for general queries. However, to get an access pass, you’ll need to come in between 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM from Monday to Saturday and in between 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Sundays. The last entry to enter the Visitor Gate is 9:00 AM and for the Inner Chamber, it is 9:45 AM.
Note: All bookings automatically get canceled on rainy days. Hence, plan your trip accordingly.
Travel Tips for Matrimandir-Auroville, Puducherry
- Photography is strictly prohibited.
- Children below 10 years of age cannot enter with their parents inside the inner chamber.
- Please maintain pin-drop silence whenever you are in the meditation room of this place.
- Follow the sanctity, decorum, and all the other rules of Matrimandir. Also, avoid touching the structures of this holy shrine.
- Do not take your personal belongings or any other valuable item such as a mobile phone, camera, laptop, bags, or videotapes along with you. It is expected of all the visitors to deposit them in a locker outside the premises.
- There is a facility of free shuttle service to the Viewing Point from the Visitor’s Centre. So, in case you’re traveling with someone who cannot cover this distance (which is approximately 1 km) on foot, you can leverage its benefits.
- If you belong to the Media fraternity and want to do the filming or photography of this complex, you’ll need to obtain permission in advance. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for their response.
Note: This site is not meant for mere tourism. Hence it is important to be in a certain physical and mental state to make the most out of it.
Best Time to Visit Matrimandir-Auroville, Puducherry
October to March is considered as the ideal time for sightseeing and other popular tourist attractions to visit in Pondicherry. During this time, the weather remains cool and pleasant, with an average temperature ranging between 17-degree Celsius to 22-degree Celsius, thus making it perfect for tourists to explore the surrounding areas.
Avoid planning your getaway during the summer season i.e., in between April to June. The climate gets pretty hot at this time and the temperature sometimes even touches 40-degree Celsius, which is obviously not preferred by anyone.
How to Reach Matrimandir-Auroville, Puducherry?
Situated at a distance of only 10 km from the city center, the Matrimandir can be easily accessed by both locals and tourists through all means of transportation.
Once you arrive in Pondicherry, whether via airways, via train, or bus, you can look for an auto-rickshaw ride or book a direct taxi from Ola/Uber to reach the Auroville township. For hassle-free traveling, one can also hire a private cab from the list of top car rental companies in Pondicherry to commute to the desired location. Chennai Airport is the nearest international airport from here and it is only 14 km away from Pondicherry Railway Station and Pondicherry Bus Stand.