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Published: November 1st 2015
We are from Gujarat, Western part of India. Had been to Bengaluru, and planned a trip to Pondicherry/Puducherry because we had heard a lot about the Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville.
Puducherry is about 360 Km from Begaluru and takes about 6 1/2 - 7 hrs by Taxi. These days, in India, if you take Taxi, be sure to add about 20-25% of the cost for Toll Tax and Interstate Road Tax. It is simply exorbitant.
Why anybody goes to Puducherry? As a Tourist? To see Aurobindo Ashram? To see an Indian city with French colonial flavor? For its beaches? For Auroville?
Well, Pudicherry is an Indian city like any other Indian city. You can see more 'foreign' colors in a small hamlet like Diu (Gujarat) or in Goa - ex Portuguese colonies.
Aurobindo Ashram: Entry is allowed only to the "Samadhi" site and Library (in fact, a book shop). And you can't spend more than 30-45 min there. All other activities of Ashram are either out of bounds to general public or non-functional (we are not sure, volunteers were not ready to volunteer the information).
Close to Ashram is Puducherry Museum, which is in poor condition.
We made our contribution (tickets) for its survival. Ashram is close to Beach. Shore is protected (artificially) by rocks. Nice place to spend a couple of hours in the evening.
Half a day, post lunch is more than enough for Puducherry.
Next day morning, to Auroville.
Auroville is an 'International Commune' set up by 'Mother', a French lady associated with Aurobindo Ashram. It is about 45 min from Puducherry. 'Matrimandir' is the main center of activity in Auroville. But for lesser mortals like us, the tourists, it is out of bounds. Just touch the photograph of the Matrimandir in this blog. You can't get closer by going to Auroville. Is is a secluded community. OK. It may not be a place to 'see', may be only for those interested in 'serious meditation', but for someone who has traveled 2000 Km from Gujarat and spent Rs 10,000 on taxi from Bengaluru, it was a big (and costly) disappointment. No wonder we did not see any Gujjubhai in Puducherry.
Souvenir shop at Auroville is good.
So, dear reader,
if you are going to Puducherry as a tourist, there are many other better places in India,
if you are interested in Aurobindo and his Ashram, better visit a near by Aurobindo Center,
if you want to see Auroville, just see the photographs here.
Spend your money elsewhere.
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