Located in the French heart of Pondicherry, just off Goubert Ave, Aurobindo Ashram draws a global mix of ardent devotees and ordinary people searching for peace; there are no compulsory meditation or rituals, simply learning to surrender to the divine principle and being open to the divine force. Sri Aurobindo, a politically active British-educated Bengali who sought asylum from the British in this small French enclave, took to meditation and yoga while developing theories of enlightenment that integrated his personal spirituality with the tenets of modern science. He met Mirra Alfassa, a Paris-born artist on a similar spiritual quest, in 1914; she became his soul mate, and her ministrations earned her the appellation "The Mother." Founded as a place to foster evolution to a higher level of spiritual consciousness, the ashram opened in 1926. With a significant following and numerous published titles to his credit, Aurobindo finally left the running of the ashram to Mirra, retreating into solitary confinement for 24 years before finally passing away in 1950; The Mother followed in 1973. Today, those who share their vision of a better world come to pray and meditate aside the memorial chambers (samadhis) of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, which lie in the center of the incredibly peaceful main courtyard. It's a very humble place, not like the huge or ancient temples typical of Tamil, but the atmosphere is sacred. Within the house (where the couple once lived) you will find the wise elders of the ashram, who are available for questions -- if you have any burning spiritual issues, this is the place to air them; the answers you will receive will inspire. (Don't forget to visit Lakshmi at nearby Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple afterwards.)