Ok by request I am posting more images of the Matrimandir. I went to the very nice library here in Auroville and took photos of some books for you. This will help you appreciate this completely amazing structure more - photography is not allowed in the Park of Unity and when you enter the park you can only take yourself, all bags and purses are checked on the gate.
And I am so glad it is so.
It took years to build the Matrimandir. It was started in around 1971 and the dome was completed in 2008. The gardens are still under construction. It is not easy for me to communicate how special this building is, and how astounding its quality is. Aurovilleans built it, and none of them were builders to begin with. Excavation was done by hand, with over 400 Tamil workers hired to haul soil out in round baskets.
And little by little, the community grew and every now and then a tradesman was amongst them. For example an Aurovillean from Siberia was a specialist in marble and natural stone. The gold discs (yes it is real gold) were made over and again through trial and error, until a sandwiching system was developed in Germany where gold leaf was fired in between two pieces of glass into mosaics. There are almost 1500 discs but the gold is so thin that it took 'only' about 14 kg of pure gold to coat the entire dome.
Access to the Inner Chamber is very restricted. Matrimandir is not a tourist destination. First time visitors need to come to Auroville the day before their intended visit and get a pass. Then on the day of the visit, one has to watch an introductory film and then go in with a guide. There is a long introduction with a guide in the Park before entering the building. The Inner Chamber can accommodate about 75 people maximum, and first time visitors stay in about 15 minutes.
Children under 10 are not admitted to the Park. That being said Tuesday is Children's Day for Aurovilleans when they can visit with appropriate supervision. Before this trip I did not know if Lili would get to go at all, and I decided that the right thing will happen about that.
And what happened was this: we enrolled her in a Young Aurovilleans Program intended for children of guests - and not only did she get to go, she went with her group leader and one other child. So the three of them got to experience that stunning space all alone for twenty minutes. The 'right thing' here was more like a VIP experience.
That's how things often work out here, I am told.