The Ashram Departments Tour

One of the best ways to get to know Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry is by visiting the various Departments of the Ashram, where work is done for practising Nishkam Karma, the way of the Bhagavad Gita, as an offering to the Divine.
This is the reason why every member of the Ashram had been given some work by the Mother, based on their need or aptitude.
Initially, many of these Departments were started by the Mother so that the Ashram could simply be self-sustaining.
Over time, some of them became income generating units but the purpose behind it, WORK AS A PART OF INTEGRAL YOGA, remains the same.

What this tour offers...

This Tour is about understanding the Ashram way of life as a dedicated service to the Divine through work.

In this 3 hour tour, you will visit some of the Departments who sell their products. This offers a good opportunity to buy Ashram made products for use and as souvenir. Only in a couple of places you can see the process as well, because not all of them are open to visitors in their work place.
Quite a few of these locations are beautiful Heritage buildings which are maintained by the Ashram. and are usually not open to casual tourists.
Photography is permitted only in areas outside the buildings and not inside the buildings.

There are two types of Tour:
1.Guided Tour (only available on Tuesdays and Fridays (by prior booking): Rs.200/- per person for a group of 3 people in a Car. Minimum payment Rs.600/-.
If it is a large group then a Mini Bus will be used. Per person 200/-.
2.Non-guided tour: available on all days subject to prior booking.Rs. 100/- per person.

Depending on the number of bookings for this tour, we will arrange the vehicle. It could be a Taxi Car or  a Mini Van. 

It is possible to book a private taxi tour (Not shared) for Non-Guided Tour any day of the week. Private Car with Guide can be made availavle on request. Please call us for details.

The Route:
Those who have signed up for a tour, MUST REACH BY 8:15 am at our Office No. 3 Rangapillai Street . 
The tour starts with a video film show on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother at 8:30 am (Visitors are requested not to join the show if they are late) The video duration is 20 min. 
Then you will be taken to the DESTINATIONS listed below and stop at each for
approximately 10-15 minutes . In case any one of the Departments is closed, another stop will be added.
The Tour Ends at 11:30 am at the Cottage Showroom on Ranga Pillay Street,

1. Starting Point

Sri Aurobindo Autocare Services
3A, Ranga Pillai St, MG Road Area,
Puducherry, 605001
8.15 am
(marked with a yellow star on the Map)

If you take the Non-guided Tour, you will meet at the Autocare Office and the vehicle will take you point to point and the driver will guide you towards the entrance and will wait for you at the drop off point in the stipulated time. You will get approximately 15 minutes at each location

2. Bureau Central

It hosts a permanent exhibition introducing the life and yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through their own writings. It also offers a glimpse into the Ashram and its activities.
You will see a 20min film here.


3. The Hosiery Unit


4. The Cottage Showroom

Cottage Industries was started in 1949, under the guidance of The Mother, to provide Sri Aurobindo Ashram with incense sticks and mats.
The surplus was distributed amongst the sadhaks. 
At present, a very wide range of high quality products are available here.


5. Weaving Department

Hand-weaving began in the Ashram in 1940. Originally the products of the Ashram Weaving Department were meant only for Ashramites. Since 1954, the bed-sheets, bed-covers, napkins, towels which are hand-woven here are available for visitors.


6. Hand Made Paper 

The Hand Made Paper Factory, started in 1959, is internationally known for the strong and beautifully coloured paper it produces by hand. The most successful items are the special papers: bagasse, bamboo, ricehusk, gunny, straw, algae and tea leaves in paper pulp so that an abstract design is created on the paper when it finally emerges.


7. Harpagon

Harpagon was established in 1937 as The Mother had intended it to be an engineering workshop. Once known for its remarkable feats in crafting machinery and tools and equipments required by the Ashram for their many projects, it currently sells photographs of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo in handcrafted frames, along with other Ashram souvenirs. 


8. Sri Smriti

This beautiful heritage house now protects and preserves objects used and collected by the Mother. These are items which were either handcrafted by sadhaks or given to her as gifts from foreign shores.
Some relics of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are also kept here.


9. Batik 

Begun on 9th August 1969, the Batik Section does traditional batik and tie and dye work on items such as kerchiefs, scarves, table-mats and dress material.


10, Marbling

The marbling unit in the Ashram started as a hobby in 1965. Some sadhaks experimented with this art form and offered marbled handmade paper to the Mother. Later they extended the marbling process to silk.


11. Fleurs en flacon

During her days in France, the Mother often used an alcohol based lotion called "Friction de Foucaud", hence "Laboratoire Senteurs" was started in 1968 in a sadhak's houseThrough its showroom "Fleurs en Flacon", Laboratoire Senteurs prepares and sells a number of products such as perfumes, deodorants, shampoos, hair-lotions and rose water.

12. Ayurveda Bhavan

Sometime in 1956, the Mother expressed her wish to start an Ayurvedic dispensary. Today the Ayurvedic Section is noted for its organised and systematic methods of preparing medicines and treating diseases.
You can buy a wide range of ingredients and products here, for everyday ailments


The Guided Tour may include three other locations which are of historical value and significance,
and these locations cannot be visited without a Guide. 
These will replace three from the earlier list: Hosiery Outlet, Harpagon and the Marbling Outlet. 
The three additional locations will be as follows:


Till 1960 all the needle-work done in the Ashram was exclusively for the Mother's personal use. Later on, with the increase of workers in the department, the variety in embroidery work and the quantity of production have increased. But, as in the beginning, the effort has always been towards beauty and perfection and the spirit still remains to be one of offering and dedication.


In the early 1940's, the Mother started directing plays in the Ashram theatre. As costumes were needed for the actors, she asked a sadhika to start a department where these could be made. Thus in 1943 this department started unofficially. It was one of the first departments to be run directly under the guidance of the Mother. It became official on the 1st of June 1964. It now does beautiful batik work, fabric painting, and hand embroidery on dress material. It also does crocheting, tatting, knitting, lace-work and patch-work.


The Ashram Library started in 1954. The Mother then gave it the message: "A library must be an intellectual sanctuary. There one should look for light and progress." Set in a large, old French-style building with its big halls, its quiet corners, and its own little garden in front, and with 55,000 books in 25 different languages and hundreds of periodicals, the library is very much an intellectual sanctuary.
One can go there just to absorb and experience the atmosphere.


• Please wear footwear which can be taken off easily

• An umbrella (for rain or sun), although not much walking involved.

• Drinking water

• Shopping bag (if you plan to buy any products)

• Smoking is strictly prohibited during the tour

• Please maintain silence where required

• Photography is permitted in outside areas but not inside the buildings

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