Windows and doors
Can we use the analogy of windows and doors to perceive a new way of how people might approach Auroville? At present we enter the township directly via the tar roads. But is it possible to imagine that they are left to develop primarily as arteries of the existing bioregion, connecting the various villages around and amongst us? While allowing for limited access to Auroville for delivery purposes, a radically different form of access could be foreseen to enter Auroville itself. Some of the most alluring and poetic environments in the world (both urban and of course wild) require a change of momentum to be able to experience them…
- Veniceis the classic example where the trains and buses all stop at the end of the causeway and people must then make their way further by boat or on foot
- Jaisalmer, the walled town in Rajasthan, is a similar case in point, but instead of Venetian boats people have to walk or use the rickshaw only at certain times of the day.
- Athos, a monastic community on a peninsula in northern Greece, allows deliveries via its single dirt road, but all visitors and residents have to utilize a ferry which stops at various communities along the coast. A few cars and minibuses are then available to travel further inland along selected routes.
Other smaller scale examples include Mont St Michel in northern France and St Michael’s Mount in southern England, and a number of smaller islands around the world which restrict motorised traffic.
If this approach is developed, the tar road becomes more of a window on Auroville, where people passing through catch a glimpse of what lies within, and Auroville’s ‘doors’, located at the periphery of the Green Belt, would entail a change of transport – either to a solar tram, bicycles or simply on foot. Thus people would not only get the chance to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Green Belt whilst appreciating all the hard work that has been done over the past few decades, but a space would be created for them to prepare inwardly for a slightly different reality than that to which they have been accustomed.
It’s important to emphasise that this idea is not about simply providing alternative transport, while allowing residents to drive (albeit slowly) in and out – it’s more radical than that.