Pondicherry’s French Connection By MATT GROSS NYT: March 30, 2008
Farther north lay the Aurodhan Gallery, perhaps the city’s finest collection of contemporary Indian art. After browsing three floors of brilliant Ganesh portraits and somber neo-Expressionist scenes of old men drinking and playing checkers, I asked the gallery owner’s wife, Shernaz Verma, what to do next. She suggested I visit the French Institute and Auroville — a utopian community founded by the Sri Aurobindo Society, whose followers were, for many years, Pondy’s main tourists — but warned I shouldn’t expect a vacation crammed with activities.
In Pondicherry, she said, “there’s not much to see, but a lot to feel.”
Auroville, just over the border in Tamil Nadu state, was founded by a society devoted to the guru Sri Aurobindo in the 1960s and is now home to more than 1,700 people from more than 40 countries. At the center of this “ideal township” is the Matrimandir, a dimpled golden globe where the late guru’s followers meditate. Auroville also has the closest beaches to Pondicherry.