Pitchandikulam Forest, Auroville

Photo by Nicolas Lagarrigue
Photo by Nicolas Lagarrigue

Pitchandikulam Forest is a community found in the green belt of the Auroville International Township in coastal Tamil Nadu, South India, inaugurated in 1968, inspired by the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and founded by the Mother (Mira Alfassa) in accordance with her dream of human unity. The dry and eroded plateau where the first Aurovilians settled turned over the years from dusty red to green.

Pitchandikulam is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the indigenous Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest of Tamil Nadu.Its name derives from a traditional healer (Vaidya) named ‘Pitchandi’ who resided here hundreds of years ago and who made the pond ‘kulam’ which is found in the middle of the new forest. It is a peaceful sanctuary of self-generating forest where over 800 species of plants can be found in the grasslands, nursery and ethnomedicinal forest.

It was established in 1973 as one of the pioneering Auroville communities engaged in the initial reforestation work that was necessary on the bare eroded township site. There has always been a strong emphasis on conservation of indigenous plant species with a particular focus on medicinal plants and the knowledge still held by  people who use them.

Pitchandikulam currently has a small resident community of 20 people, with long-term visitors and volunteers often staying in the guesthouses. The Pitchandikulam Forest team coordinates over 100 people from Auroville and the surrounding areas who come each day to work at the Bioresource Centre, the artist’s studio, as well as in one of the many community projects.

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Through community outreach activities and delivering innovative education methods in the schools of the bioregion, Pitchandikulam Forest provides models of sustainable ecological practices. Traditional knowledge and technologies of the local people are being documented, displayed and woven into the Pitchandikulam landscape. A team of botanists and community activists work from Pitchandikulam on several projects to restore the indigenous forest and the traditional knowledge related to the local ecosystem.

The Pitchandikulam Bioresource Centre with its library, database, artefacts and photo displays, provides a focus for the teaching of restoration ecology, environmental science, and the identification and use of indigenous medicinal plants. A major focus of Pitchandikulam is community outreach and currently we work in 25 villages throughout the Kaluveli bioregion.

The Pitchandikulam Art Collective  works with stone, ferrocement ,slate, canvas, bronze and resin, to create art works for parks, museums, and interpretation centers depicting the wildlife of the subcontinent.

The Forest Vision Studio located at Pitchandikulam produces short films on the groups varied activities.

Please visit our website > www.pitchandikulamforest.org

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