Revisiting a Utopian City With Fondness and Fury

By Parul Sehgal

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Tucked above the Indian Ocean, on the Bay of Bengal, lies a city named for the dawn. Auroville is an intentional community founded in 1968 by a Frenchwoman, Mirra Alfassa, known as the Mother, and consecrated to an exemplary if somewhat vague notion of human unity. Today some 2,500 people — mostly Indians and Westerners — make their home there, among organic farms, free schools and ethical design studios, all subsidized by donations and the Indian government. Seen from above, the city swirls, designed to look like a galaxy, a world unto itself — or so it likes to believe.

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