Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
54Trip End May 05, 2011
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It's a fascinating concept, of an international community living and working together in harmony. Physically there's not much for visitors to look at except the large central "Matramandir" which is a large golden globe housing a meditation area. It's like the Epcot golf ball, or something out of the Crystal Maze, but predates both by at least a decade or two. Our visit was greatly enhanced by a Frenchman who started talking to us, who'd been one of the original residents of Auroville. Aged 23 he came to India overland during the 1970s, after reading about the project. At that stage the whole plot of land was just desert, and he referred to himself as a 'pioneer' like those of the Wild West. His job was a forester, and he was immensely (justifiably) proud of the jungle Auroville now sits in, entirely planted by him and his team, so that the community had wood for construction, fuel etc. He was very honest about his experience there, that there were arguments and problems as there are everywhere - Auroville is like a microcosm of society (600 of the 2000 permanent residents are children so there is a school as there is a hospital, doctors etc.), but according to Gilbert, everything here was magnified, so you get extreme highs and lows. It was really interesting to talk to him.
Yesterday morning I left Pondy on the bus to Mamallapuram which I'm still not sure how to spell or pronounce. A few people had recommended it, and it was on the way to Chennai so I decided to stop. It's a small beach town with lots of 7th century (or 9th??) carvings and rock temples. There's also this crazy place where there's a really steep slope upon which is balanced a huge rock. It seems incredible that the rock is stuck there, but a coachload of Korean tourists pushing it for a photo op proved otherwise. I didn't feel the need to try and push it myself. Funny anyway. I headed towards the beach and found a cafe overlooking the 'shore temple' which juts out into the sea on a small peninsula. Later in the afternoon I found a bus to Chennai airport which was amazingly civilised and tranquil compared to the rest of India (that's not saying much). After a flight of less than one hour I landed in Coimbatore and got another bus to the bus station. I must have tried about twenty hotels before finding an available room but finally slept!