Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the Union Territory of Puducherry in South India. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (known as “the Mother”) and designed by architect Roger Anger. As stated in Alfassa’s first public message in 1965,
Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.
The inauguration ceremony attended by delegates of 124 nations, was held on Wednesday 28 February 1968. Handwritten in French by the Mother, its 4-point Charter set forth her vision of Integral living:
- Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
- Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
- Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
- Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.
In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which was conceived by Alfassa as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection”. Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquility of the space and entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called Peace area. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as “a place to find one’s consciousness”.
Matrimandir is equipped with a solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens. When there is no sun or after the sunset, the sunray on the globe is replaced by a beam from a solar powered light.
Radiating from this center are four “zones” of the City Area: the “Residential Zone“, “Industrial Zone“, “Cultural (& Educational) Zone” and “International Zone“. Around the City or the urban area, lies a Green Belt which is an environment research and resource area and includes farms and forestries, a botanical garden, seed bank, medicinal and herbal plants, water catchment bunds, and some communities.
The township was originally intended to house 50,000 residents. In the initial 20 years, only about 400 individuals from 20 countries resided in the township. In the next 20 years, this number rose to 2,000 individuals from 40 countries. As of May 2016, it has 2,487 residents (1854 adults and 633 children) from 49 countries with two-thirds from India, France and Germany.