Pondicherry, one of the four precincts of the union territory of Puducherry, is located in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India. It borders the Bay of Bengal in the east and the rest of the state in the north, south and west directions. The average elevation here is that of the sea level itself and many backwaters, acting as inlets can be found here. To protect it from tidal waves, the French built a 2-km long wall, which rises to a height of 27 feet. Pondicherry has a typically coastal climate with the weather generally being hot and humid. Summers here are hot with the temperature touching the 40-degree mark regularly while winters remain moderately cool. It is home to numerous colonial era buildings, beaches, temples and churches. Another place that people can visit during their Pondicherry tour is Matrimandir.
About the Building
Matrimandir is a sort of a temple, which holds significance among yoga practitioners. It is situated in Auroville, about 8 km from the city and does not belong to any one faith. The construction of this structure started in 1971, initiated by a follower of Sri Aurobindo and was completed in 2008. It is built in the shape of a huge dome, surrounded by gardens. The weight of the structure is supported by eight concrete piers, which are in the shape of sickles. Their height is 38 m and thickness varies from 40 cm to 70 cm. Its frame is made of triangle of concrete beams, filled with cement. The sphere is 29 m high and has a diameter of 36 m. It is further covered with concave and convex golden disks to make it look like a sun. The discs are covered with 24-carat gold sheets, equalling 20 kg in weight.
Visitors enter the complex through four gates, named after four virtues. On the first floor is a room, with its floor and benches made of white marble. The inner chamber is swathed in golden-pink fabric, used to give it the colour of an auroville flower. During the day, the sunlight comes in, giving it the salmon-coloured hue and at night, LEDs fulfil the same purpose. It is made according to the visions that the initiator saw. Situated in the underground area is a lotus pond with marble lotuses instead of actual flowers. Twelve meditation chambers, shaped like a sphere and painted in a different color are located inside. The carpet in the central meditation chamber was made in Agra, with wool, which was imported from New Zealand. It was woven in about six months, using a technique, which bestows on it all the good qualities of man-made and machine-made carpets.
However, the biggest attraction in this room is a crystal globe, with a 70 cm diameter and 4000 kg weight. No windows have been provided here and a heliostat transforms the sunlight into a beam, illuminating the crystal ball. No religious ceremonies or rituals can be held inside, for Sri Aurobindo did not want a religion to be set up, based on his teachings. Hibiscus and other flowers adorn the 12 gardens that surround the superstructure. In front of the building, is an ovular amphitheatre, built much like those in classical Greece and Rome. Thrice-a-year, bonfires are organized here and devotional music is played in the evening on every Thursday.