We stayed in Arka Guest house at Auroville for 5 nights in Sep end. This was our first trip to Auroville and we did not know have much information on how to select a guest house. Auroville does not have any hotels, but has many guest houses since visitors usually come for long stay. If you are visiting Auroville for the first time, I suggest you use this criteria:
- Choose a guest house close to Visitors’s center and/or Matrimandir.
- Call up/ write to the guest house and find out if they help in hiring a vehicle. Having a vehicle in Auroville is a must. Public transport is rare (there is bus that runs on a schedule) and finding an auto passing by is luck.
- Choose a guest house that has provision for meals if required. Restaurants inside Auroville close by 9 pm and if you are a late eater, you can ask the guest house to keep meals for you. Restaurants on the Auroville road are however open till 10 pm, so this is not a big constraint if you have your vehicle.
- Internet access: While not having internet access is a bliss these days, we all do need it once in while. BSNL works inside Auroville, but nothing else. Check with the guest house if they have internet access.
Arka is located 500 mts from the Solar kitchen and around 2 kms from the visitor’s center. Matrimandir is hardly a km away. The location is central for most of the activities. Most of the cab drivers/ delivery boys know the guest house.
Booking Arka Guest House: You can either mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill the enquiry form on their listing on Auroville’s website. They are prompt with replies. You can also call them on +91 (0)413 2623799, 2622443, 8940193850 during office hours. Their website http://www.arka.org.in/home.html has more details on their programs.
The property is very spacious and clean. They have a garden and a lotus pond in between. There is a parking lot for rented vehicles. The rooms are located on the ground and first floor. They have an internet room, dining area, saloon, yoga room & library. Arka is well known in the Auroville community for its wellness centre and healing workshops. They have regular yoga classes as well.
There is also a lift for wheelchair, which takes one to yoga room and the library on the first floor. The internet centre has 3 desktops and is open Monday to Saturday between 9 am to 4:30 pm. Internet browsing is charged at Rs.25 per hour and can be negotiated for long stays. They provide WiFi password too, in case you want to use it in your room. However, we never had WiFi signal in our room.
We booked a no-AC room as suggested by their caretaker Mr.Jayaram. The property is surrounded by greenery and AC is not required inside even in peak summer. The facility we were allotted was called Frangi Pani. It had 2 bedrooms, 1 living room, small kitchen area and a bathroom. They had put an extra bed for kiddo. The kitchen did not have provisions to cook, but you can get your own gas etc if you are staying for long. Inclusions in the room: Towels, fridge, purified water and laundry. Its hard to find plastic bottled water in Auroville. There are refills at various places and you are encouraged to use those. Hot water is available in the bathroom through solar heater. Exclusions: Television, Toiletries (soap, handwash, shampoo etc). No kettle in the room, but there is one in the dining area if you want to make your own tea. Carry tea-bags/ milk sachet if you plan to use it. Room tariff is extremely affordable. It depends on the number of people, room type and also peak-season/off-season. Nov to March is considered peak season and the rates are higher. We paid Rs.950 per night for a non-AC room for 2 adults and 1 child (Rs.1200 for the same room in peak season). This includes breakfast and laundry services. Minimum stay to book the room is however, 3 days.
Food@ Arka Guest House:
Most of the bookings include breakfast. Breakfast is the same everyday – bread, pickled jam, butter, 1 banana and a slice of papaya. Omlette is made on request. We found the breakfast sub-standard and had it outside most of the days. Lunch and dinner is made on request. You need to write in advance on a whiteboard if you need meals to be prepared for you. Lunch is priced at Rs.200 per person and dinner at Rs.150 per person. We had one lunch and one dinner and they were like homemade meals – simple & less oily.
There are many restaurants in Auroville so dining in general is not an issue. The only thing you need to be careful is timings. Most of the restaurants inside Auroville close by 7:30 pm. Few of them (Neem Tree near Solar Kitchen and Visitors Center Cafe) are open till 9 pm. The ones on the Auroville road (just outside Auroville entrance) are open till 10 pm.
The wellness centre at Arka is well known to the the residents. They conduct regular courses and seminars in their healing centre. Auroville publishes a weekly handout distributed every Friday to the guesthouses. It has list of seminars/ activities/ volunteering options etc. It is also available online on https://www.auroville.org/contents/4186. You can download the one for 28th Oct to 3rd Nov 2017 from this link: News and Notes for Auroville residents and guests Overall, our stay at Arka guest house was very relaxing. We are planning to go back again next year for a longer duration of time. If you have any questions about Auroville or specifically about Arka Guest house, post in the comment and I will be happy to help!