Pondicherry – The Sacred Place
8 A.M. I reached Pondicherry with a glow in my face. After all I am getting a holiday after long time. What I noticed after stepping my foot in the city is its cleanliness and beauty. Pondicherry is a clean city, with well-polished roads, trees on either side of the streets giving a cool protection from the sun. In fact, I found it cleaner than Bangalore. I took an auto and went to Oriya Nilayam, one of the many ashrams belonging to Sri Aurobindo trust. I reached the ashram after a 15-minute ride from the station and found that it’s nothing like an ashram. The room were well built and maintained. You can say it’s more like a hotel, but the atmosphere was serene and peaceful. I set out to explore the city after having a refreshing bath. As soon as I stepped out to the streets, I felt the scorching heat. After 10 in the morning, the city becomes very hot and humid. If you can brave the heat, then the beauty of Pondicherry can enthrall you. Nicely designed buildings, beautiful parks, churches, streets named in French and the sea beach – it’s all so nice to see.
I had my first meal in the canteen of the Sri Aurobindo ashram. After eating I could faintly remember the taste of the food as I had the same food while I had visited Pondicherry almost 20 years ago. There had been no change in the menu in all those years. You get rice, a bowl of Dal fry mixed with vegetables, curd, dalia kheer, two bananas and a bowl of buttermilk sometimes. The food is healthy and hygienic, but I wondered how the ashramites could eat the same food for years.
People working in ashram are mostly from West Bengal and from Odisha. They used to either ride a bicycle in the city or walk in the beach at a brisk pace. Even the senior citizens, French people – all rode bicycles comfortably. No doubt they are fit and healthy at such an old age.
In the afternoon, I went to the Aurobindo ashram. It was a wonderful place with a serene and calm atmosphere. The Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was covered with a white marble decorated with various colorful flowers. The ashram itself had many trees and flowers which beautified the vicinity. I sat there for a while in the soothing gentle breeze feeling relaxed with an empty mind. In that little time, I forgot all the tension of work and life. I have gone to many ashrams and I have felt this relaxation everywhere. May be the saints living there have sanctified the place ad made it sacred.
The next day we went to Auroville which is a 30-minute ride from Pondicherry. The place was hidden inside a jungle and was therefore, very quiet and lonely. The main attraction was the Matrumandir, located in the center of the artificial village. It is an attractive golden sphere designed for spiritual aspirants for meditation. But, only those people are allowed inside who have attended at least meditation sessions. So that ruled me out and I only watched the Matrumandir from a distance of 100 feet. The only problem I faced was that I have to walk for around one mile under the heat of the sun, which was tormenting and gruesome.
Coming to Pondicherry has been an enlightening journey for me. If you can brave the heat and humidity of the city, you will love the city.
©2015 Amrit. All rights reserved.
Images are taken by me.