Our regular correspondent is visiting his family in Canada. In his absence, we will share some of the developments here with you.
Matrimandir is very much in transition these days. From a bustling construction site, the focus of the activity here is shifting to the quieter work on the gardens and maintaining the entire complex in a manner befitting the symbol that is Matrimandir. The expensive process of letting go some of the workers who have been with us almost since the beginning of Matrimandir has been going on for the past year or so. Some of our younger workers have left of their own accord, finding employment on other construction sites in the Auroville area or further afield. Of course a good number of people will be required for all the maintenance jobs that need to be done continually, as well as for repair jobs on various elements of the site. Teams of Aurovilians are looking after the cleaning of the Inner Chamber and inside the main sphere.
The marble ‘lotus pond' beneath the sphere was once again visible in all it splendour in time for Sri Aurobindo's birthday. All the scaffolding has been permanently removed as most of the work on the shields above the entrance doors is now complete. We are waiting for the colored tiles for the centre of last two big discs over the doors on the South and the East, and there is still some work to be done on the mechanism for the entrance doors.
The coloured ‘film' over the portholes of the outer skin which will give the daytime rose colour inside the sphere, still has to be sourced, but in the meantime the new sealing rings around the 720 portholes are being fitted. Up on top, some modifications are in order for the two heliostat covers and ventilator openings. The discs which had been removed in order to fix the crane have now been replaced, with adjustments to their legs.
The crane itself is already in action, with its ‘gondola' swinging out and then in towards the sphere to allow cleaning of all the discs. The top rows of discs on all four quarters have now been cleaned, and they are glistening, visibly brighter than the rows directly beneath them which still bear the grey soot from the traffic and industrial effluents which are carried by the air every day. It is easy to see that this will be one of the principal ongoing works in future, if Matrimandir is to shine on the outside and not only on the inside!
Another development is the shifting of the main generator to a new building built especially to house it. It is sited right next to the solar power plant, not far from the main gate, and quite close to the TNEB transformers. The generator will have been moved to its new home by the time you read this. The solar power plant functioned for its ten-year lifetime but then it was time to replace the solar panels. The batteries which had a life expectancy of seven years, actually worked for ten before giving up. These old batteries have now been sold for scrap and new ones ordered, to the tune of some 20 lakhs! One of our long-term donors has generously offered a very sizeable portion of this amount, which, together with the money from the scrap sales, will cover the cost of the new batteries. Such acts of generosity have played a vital role in the manifestation of Matrimandir.
Gradually, the various workshops that have been so essential to Matrimandir's becoming will have to be shifted further away from the Oval, if not done away with altogether in favour of a smaller, more comprehensive workshop. Buildings to store equipment, machinery and materials required for the day-to-day running of Matrimandir will have to be provided for from existing workshop materials. All stock that is no longer necessary will be sold.
A restructuring of our working teams is also in progress as the focus will more and more be on maintenance. Each team will be responsible for a specific area, such as electricity, irrigation system, equipment and machinery, the air-conditioning plant, gardens, pathways, petals and stone-clad areas, outer skin and crane, etc. Eventually the office will have to shift to a new premises, perhaps linked with the future reception centre which will one day receive all visitors to Matrimandir.
As you can appreciate, maintaining Matrimandir is going to require a lot of financial support from its many well-wishers, especially since there is no admission fee for the hundreds and sometimes thousands of people who come here every day.
New Access Policy
Starting on the 25 th of November 2008, a new access policy will come into force here at Matrimandir. It will mark a major shift that is in conformity with the changed circumstances here, namely that the construction is truly over and the Matrimandir has come into its own. The timings for visitors to the Inner Chamber will change, which will make it easier for many who find the 5 to 6 evening timing inconvenient.
From the 25 th , the Inner Chamber concentration hour will be from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every morning. This means that people coming for concentration should reach here by 9:15 a.m . latest. Bookings will continue to be necessary,booking timings are given below.
For the first-time visitors, the ‘introduction' visit will be from 10:00 a.m. Those who have registered for this visit must reach here by 9:45 a.m .
The booking times (either in person or by phonen) will change from the morning to the afternoon: between 2 and 4 p.m. We hope this will make it easier for people to make their bookings in advance. It is best to phone at least 2 days ahead to ensure your place.
A new answering facility has been installed last month on the booking phones which means that every call will be answered automatically regardless of the time it is made. The information regarding visits is clearly enumerated in English, Hindi, Tamil and French. We hope that this will give people who want to visit, perhaps for the first time, the correct information to facilitate their visit.
The booking number are as follows:
(0413) 262 2268
If you are a donor or are holding one of the old white passes from a previous visit, please mention this at the time of booking. If you are not a donor or do not have a white pass but have already visited before, you will be asked at the time of booking for the date of your last visit. Please recall this before phoning, to make your booking easier.
If you are planning to come and want to book by email beforehand, please write to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. in , allowing time for us to get back to you in case there is no space on the day you wish to visit. Be sure to mention if you are a first-time visitors or have sat for concentration in the Chamber before.
As we are coming into the monsoon season here, we wish to remind everyone that when it has rained heavily, even though it might be sunny at the moment, road conditions and general muddiness will determine whether the Chamber will stay open or close. In case of doubt, please give us a ring.
Address for donations and correspondence:
MATRIMANDIR – AUROVILLE 605 101 – TAMIL NADU – INDIA
Tel: Bookings +91-0413-262-2268, 262-2204; Finance, 262-2228;