To build an international city: self-sustaining, spiritual, without hard cash and without any police - is this really feasible?
Auroville is situated in the middle of nowhere in South India: It is a visionary place where almost 3.000 inhabitants from more than 33 nations are tackling life as “future humans”.
The most beautiful route to the township of the future starts in Chennai, travels south along the coast and takes about three hours: on the left palm trees and the ocean, on the right fields, lagoons with their herons and in between villages with four-storey temple towers and multi-syllable place names.
In Periyarmudaliarchavadi the road turns upcountry and shortly afterwards allows a first glimpse: “Auroville Bakery”. Really, by now we should have been warned by a multi-lingual sign: “Watch out, your stay here could change your life. No responsibility taken for any twists of fate.”
Welcome to Auroville, the city of dawn, a haven for alternative technologies, experimental architecture and applied spirituality.
The Indian countryside remains the backdrop: rickshaws with buzzing horns, Tamil women walking their goats, cyclists jingling their bells. Yet every now an then light skinned faces blend in with the dark-skinned population.
And when the tarmac road transforms into a gravel path at a turn-off you have nearly reached the point, which the Auroville Maps determine as the “City Area”. This place name is no mistake but the anticipation of the future of this unequalled western-eastern joint project. It is designed to become home to a population of up to 50.000 and as a universal city to embody the “ideal of human unity”.

GEO Special Issue Nr. 5 October/November 2004