Arriving in Auroville – from Chennai airport
The most comfortable way to get to Auroville is definitely by taxi. And if you come to India for the first time, it may be the best option too, unless you are very into adventures and/or you are on a very low budget.
If you don’t want to have too much surprises, it may be advisable to take a pre-paid taxi all over India. There is a pre-paid taxi booth in all airports for this purpose. But if you are heading to Auroville, there are much more options.
News and Notes – the Auroville newsletter
The weekly newsletter of Auroville is available on-line too, and in it there is a section for taxi sharing. A few days before arriving in Chennai it can be good to have a look at this section and if you are lucky, there is an Aurovillian travelling to Auroville from Chennai at the same time and we can share the taxi. And the costs 🙂 The total price is btw INR 2,400 (spring, 2017).
STS – Shared Transport Service
On the Auroville website there is also a surface for taxi sharing but my experience is that this surface is less popular.
And I happen to have the phone number of a taxi driver whose English is quite understandable for a European too 🙂 If you decide to book a taxi on phone, it is advisable to tell everything twice (at least) and ask the driver to repeat everything because in India there is no such as “no”. Our partner will definitely say “yes” under all conditions. Even if he doesn’t have a clue about what we are speaking about.
So, Mr. Candam’s phone number: +91968102010 (he didn’t pay me for sharing, but I guess he doesn’t bother :-))
I have to admit that I haven’t travelled to Auoville by bus but I have heard that the local bus costs around INR 200. So, if you are ready for adventure, you can take a tuk-tuk at the airport to get to the local bus stand and take the next bus to Pondicherry. And if you tell to the driver that you are going to Auroville, he will drop you before reaching Pondicherry. And you can take a taxi/tuk-tuk from there. When taking a tuk-tuk, you should always bargain, at least 50% of the original price. But if you are really interested, you may write to me and I can find a friend who tells the reasonable price.
Payment in Auroville
You may read about that in Auroville there is no money and there is an Aurocard. Well, in practice, the Aurocard is not needed for too many things if you are only aguest to Auroville. There is one big restaurant, the Solar Kitchen, where you can only pay by Aurocard but in other restaurants and guesthouses you can easily use cash. And Aurocard is not even accepted in all places. You may like to use a card though if you wanna move with less cash in Auroville.
Regarding cash. In the Townhall, the Auroville Financial Department the daily cash withdrawal is limited in INR 10,000 and there is also a fee euros transaction fee applicable. But since my Hungarian debit card did not work in any atm-s in South India, I really appreciated this solution.
If you wanna be very low budget, you can find the cheapest accommodation outside Auroville in the green belt but you need to know that these places don’t pay the contribution to Auroville. So, this way you don’t support the beautiful idea of Auroville and also, if you would like to visit the Auroville temple, the Matri Mandir, you will need to pay some fee, at every occasion.
If you would like to spend at least 2 weeks in Auroville, there is a really pleasant option, the Buddha Garde, where for a few hours gardening every weekday and a contribution of INR 250, you can get accommodation and breakfast, free wifi, lots of nature and colourful international company. I loved it 🙂
I have been planning to write a post about Auroville restaurants since April. Where to go for the most delicious or cheap (and delicious) food and wifi. Soon will write about his too. 🙂