About Shri Aurobindo AshramAurobindo Ashram or the Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual group (ashram) situated in the union territory of Pondicherry. The ashram was a small community that expanded over some time as more and more disciples of Aurobindo Ghose gathered around to seek spirituality.
Aurobindo Ghose founded this ashram after he left his political career and aspired to inherit spiritualism in his life. A few followers of Aurobindo joined him in the ashram with the same aim of seeking spirituality. Located in eastern Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram has become a hub of tourists who are inclined towards divinity and simplicity in their lifestyle.
The ashram is popular not only in India but also in other countries because of the work put forth by the community towards the healing of humanity. The ashram in its initial days only had a few buildings but later, as more and more people joined, the ashram grew bigger and presently, it consists of many small buildings that are adjacent to each other.
The ashram provides all the basic needs of its members for living a healthy and simple life. There is a library in the ashram where members can read and learn about the history and teachings of the place. Also, there are various cultural facilities like dance, theatre, music, arts, and sports for the all-round development of the members. The ashram is managed by a board of five trustees who make sure that the legacy and vision of Aurobindo Ghose remains in the ashram.
History of Aurobindo Ashram:
After quitting politics, Aurobindo Ghose spent most of his time writing and meditating in the ashram. From 1910 to 1920, the ashram had a few members alongside Aurobindo who all lived a simple life involving reading, writing and doing their daily chores. In 1920, Mirra Alfassa or “The Mother” who was regarded as the “spiritual collaborator” of Aurobindo returned to Pondicherry and lived in the ashram.
Soon, more and more people came in the ashram and it gradually became a community under the umbrella of Aurobindo and the Mother. In 1926, the formal foundation of the ashram was done and this resulted in more and more people coming to the ashram.
From just 24 people in 1927 to 150 in 1934, the ashram started to grow like a community. Over the years, as the ashram grew in numbers more and more departments were formed and the sadhaks looked after the departments as a part of their sadhana. Today, the ashram is spread throughout the town in around 400 buildings and houses more than 2000 sadhaks.
Highlights of Aurobindo Ashram:-Aurobindo Ghose founded the ashram in 1926 after quitting his career in politics
-Mother (Mirra Alfassa) companion of Aurobindo carried on the legacy of the ashram after Aurobindo’s death in 1950.
-One of the biggest Ashrams in India, Aurobindo Ashram housing more than 2000 people living and serving each other.
-Auroville, the city of dawn was the brainchild of Mother. Auroville is associated with the ashram in its ideological structure and well-being.
-Aurobindo Ashram publishes many periodicals about the essence of spirituality and peace in life
-It takes around 2-3 hours to see the entire ashram
How to Reach Shri Aurobindo Ashram
The ashram is located near Rue de La Marine beach. Following are the ways you can reach the ashram :
By Air: Pondicherry Airport is well-connected by major Indian airports. From the airport, you can rickshaws or cabs that take you to the ashram.
By Road: You can take buses from the Bus stand that take you directly to the ashram. The ashram is well-connected by all the mediums of transport in Pondicherry.
By Train: Pondicherry station is the nearest station to Aurobindo Ashram although it is not well-connected to other major stations in India. One has to take a train to Villupuram and then take a local passenger train to Pondicherry.
Best Time to Visit Shri Aurobindo Ashram
The climate in Pondicherry is humid throughout the year as it is located near the coastal area. If you wish to visit the place in summers, it can be a little uncomfortable as the weather becomes humid. The best season to visit the ashram is during the winter season and especially during August as it marks the birthday (15th August) of Sri Aurobindo.
During this period, the entire town indulges in the flavor of celebration. To make your trip memorable and see the best of Pondicherry and the Ashram, visit the place in August. The ashram is visited by the maximum number of tourists between August to November as many important days of the Ashram fall between these months.
15th August - Sri Aurobindo’s Birthday
24th November - Victory Day
5th December - Sri Aurobindo’s Mahasamadhi Day
17th December - Mother’s Mahasamadhi Day
What Not to Miss at Shri Aurobindo Ashram
Meditate and relax in the various halls around the Ashram and experience the sense of calmness and serenity in the ashram and breath the history of it. Aurobindo Ashram has a library where visitors can read the book of their choice.
Visit the library and learn the teachings and the way of life of Aurobindo Ghose and the inhabitants of the ashram. There is also a visitor’s center in the ashram where one can see a short movie that depicts the history and the life of the Ashram. Other than that, you can also visit the local souvenir shop in the ashram and get the best souvenirs of the ashram for your loved ones.
You can also visit the samadhi (resting place) of Sri Aurobindo Ghose and Mother in the ashram. The place is well decorated with flowers and one can experience peace and the true meaning of life.
1. Senteurs-Fleurs en Flacon
Located close to the Ashram, Senteurs-Fleurs en Flacon is a production center of various fragrances. This place was founded by Mother in 1959 to promote various fragrances that help in the healing of various parts of the human body
Popular for its fragrances, Senteurs which in French means “Fragrance” has many items like embroidered and hand-painted handkerchiefs, sarees, etc. Sentuers has more than 100 different fragrances which are exclusively sold in the shop.
One can visit the place and buy some of the finest fragrances available in the entire town. Senteurs also has many Ayurvedic products which are manufactured by the local and small companies of Pondicherry.
2. Manakula Vinayagar Temple
Located next to the Ashram, Manakula Vinayagar Temple is a very famous temple and pilgrimage site dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The temple is one of the ancient temples of Pondicherry. The temple is close to the Aurobindo Ashram and the popular Promenade Beach.
The temple has a golden chariot in the temple which is engraved with some of the finest artworks. The chariot has around 7.5 kg of gold in it and it is taken out of the temple on the day of Vijayadashami for public viewing.
There are many places in and around the ashram where one can meditate and inherit the cultural importance of the ashram and Pondicherry.
Attractions near the Aurobindo Ashram:
Named after Aurobindo Ghose, Auroville was founded by Mother in North Pondicherry. This township was founded to create a place where men and women from all over the world can live their lives in peace and harmony and neglecting the differences of race, creed, caste, and nationalities.
In the very center of Auroville, one can visit the Matrimandir, which is the prime spot for meditation and yoga. With the sound of water splashing on all the four sides of Matrimandir, one can sit here in peace and tranquility. Talk to the residents of Auroville who have arrived from different countries of the world and learn about the life of the people of Auroville.
2. Pondicherry Museum
Popularly known as the Pondy Museum, the museum is popular for its sculptures of the various kingdoms of South-India. The museum has artifacts dating from the 1st and 2nd century BC. Among its other collections, the museum is known for its lost-wax bronzes from the Chola period.
Located at some distance of 1 km from the ashram, one can visit the museum and learn about the various historical elements of the various kingdoms.
3. Seaside Promenade Pondicherry
Pondicherry truly reflects its French roots at its various places and one of them is the Seaside Promenade. The promenade is always filled with people who visit the place and take a long walk by the seashore. Many tourists come to the promenade to see the beautiful sanguine sunset.
With the mellow breeze in the yellow day and stars twinkling in the night-sky, Seaside promenade is the best place to spend your day as well as night.
4. Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Dedicated to St. Peters, Immaculate Conception Cathedral or locally known as “Samba Kovli” is a marvelous religious place for the Roman Catholics which was built in 1686.
Many visitors visit the cathedral because of its historical importance. During the French’s ruling, the cathedral served as a place of worship to the citizens. During the Britsh invasion, many historical buildings and monuments were destroyed but they failed in destroying Immaculate Conception Cathedral. Due to this, the cathedral became a popular place among visitors.
A few other attractions near the Aurobindo Ashram are:
-Statue of Gandhi
-French War Memorial
-INTACH Heritage Centre
-Kargil War Memorial
Other Essential Information About Shri Aurobindo Ashram
Location: No. 9, Near Manakula Vinayagar Junction, Kovil Street, Marine Street, White Town, Puducherry, 605002
Timings: The ashram is an open public viewing from 8 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm.
Entry fee: Free entry and Children below the age of 3 are not allowed in the ashram
-Tours are conducted in the Ashram where one can see the various departments of the ashram.
-Exhibition and Video programs are conducted in the bureau of the ashram
-The authorities also organize collective meditations in the ashram
There is a parking facility available in the ashram but the space for parking is not that big.
Distance from Pondicherry Bus stand:
The bus stand is 9 km away from Aurobindo Ashram
Library of Aurobindo Ashram:
There is a massive library in the ashram which has more than 80,000 books in more than 20 languages. The library was founded in 1954 by Mother to spread knowledge.
Mother laid the foundation stone of the library with the message:
"A library must be an intellectual sanctuary. There one should look for light and progress."
The library is built in a typical French colonial-era building which has big hallways in the inside and a little garden on its outside. The library also has a collection of many periodicals over the years. Also, the library consists of many Indian and Western classical music recordings and tapes.
Every Wednesday, Indian classical music is played in the library at 8.30 pm. Every Tuesday and Friday, Western classical music is played in the library at the same time.
Places to Stay near Aurobindo Ashram:
These guest houses provide a very mild and conducive atmosphere for its residents. One will not find any telephone, television, WiFi or any other modern amenities in these guest houses as they are made to give the spiritual atmosphere to the inhabitants.
2. Shenbaga Hotel and Convention Centre - Shenbaga Hotel is the tallest and the biggest hotel in Pondicherry giving business class facilities to its guests. There is also a convention center in the hotel that provides facilities like Gym, Fitness Centre and Workout Room to its guests. With all the modern facilities in your hand, you can get the best and first-class services in the Shenbaga Hotel.
3. The Promenade - With a perfect view of the beautiful ocean, The Promenade is the best sea-facing view hotel in Pondicherry. One can enjoy the first-class services with the best view of the ocean and beach with private beach rooms.
4. Maison Perumal - The hotel translates to ‘Home of Perumal’ (Perumal is a deity of Lord Shiva). Located near the ashram, this hotel offers special concierge services to its guests. The hotel is of historic importance in the locality and is very popular among the visitors.
Places to Eat near Aurobindo Ashram:
2. Bistro Sharana - This terrace restaurant will give you the best finger-licking food and a marvelous view of the city. With special things like this, the restaurant is always full of guests. Bistro Sharana has a special buffet on Wednesday and Saturday, so make sure that you visit the restaurant on any of the two days.
3. Baker’s Street - Located near the popular Seaside Promenade, Baker’s Street is very popular for its French Breakfast. Known for its bread dishes, Baker’s Street has some of the finest French dishes with a blend of Indian spices. Serving fresh fruit juices with hot bread dishes, the restaurant also gives the perfect view of the promenade.
4. Don Giovanni’s Restaurant - One of the finest traditional restaurants in the city, Don Giovanni is known for its limited items menu. The owner of the restaurant, Mr. Morsiani personally looks over every dish. Among the other Italian dishes, Spaghetti Bolognese is the most popular dish in the restaurant. With the perfect mixture of Italian herbs and Indian taste, the restaurant serves many mouth-watering dishes.
Tips before visiting Aurobindo Ashram:
-Silence is always expected from the guests as the ashram highlights the importance of silence and meditation.
-Guests are expected to keep their phones off or on silent mode
-If you are looking for the best book in the field of meditation and yoga, the ashram has the finest books from Indian as well as international authors.