Tuesday, 5th May 2009 by Alex Steinberger
Built around a massive gold-plated meditation dome known as the Matrimandir, Auroville was created in hopes that it would be a model for peace, learning, and environmental stewardship.
The town was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, a spiritual leader known to her followers as “The Mother”, who created the guiding principles of the town as well as a governing organisation that today is nebulously referred to as “the Foundation”.2
Taking a closer look at the Matrimandir reveals its sheer size and architectural complexity – although it does look a lot like a much shinier version of Walt Disney World’s Epcot Centre.
Getting a peek inside the sacred meditation chamber within the Matrimandir is difficult for outsiders, but it’s reported to contain a polished white marble room with a light-reflecting crystal suspended at its centre. Despite sounding like the inside of a trendy nightclub, it has been described as “a place to find one’s consciousness”.
A bit further to the south, we can make out one of Auroville’s clever alternative energy solutions. Sitting atop the aptly named “Solar Kitchen” is a 15-metre-wide solar bowl that concentrates light from the sun to heat water for the restaurant. The array is so powerful that it can heat enough water to 150°C to cook over 2,000 meals per day!
If you feel like this little slice of utopian heaven might be might be a good change of pace from your hectic lifestyle, Auroville has varying lodging options for tourists, and even a visitor’s centre. Come to think of it, I could go for some solar-boiled tofu curry right about now…
Thanks to Nilauro, Rob Alexandre, and Sudipto Ghosh.