Newsletter October 2006
The phase of intensive construction is continuing. There is progress on almost every front. In our last newsletter we spoke about the installation of the heliostat. In the first days of August, the mirror to track the sun was at last connected to the computer control room located beneath the top cap of the sphere. After three days of trials and adjustments, the 110 cm diameter circular mirror began to follow the sun properly. A wave of joy ran through the team that had been assembling the heliostat as we saw that this new instrument was well and truly obeying the computer commands.
The large mirror component of the heliostat. It tracks the sun using a computer programme and reflects the sun's ray onto the smaller mirror (inside the recess). The sunlight is then reflected off another mirror down into the Chamber to strike the crystal.
There was still some work remaining to get the ray back into the Chamber below. We had to install the two fixed mirrors that are used to redirect the sunbeam down into the Chamber to strike the globe. We also had to install the central lens, in its position below the fixed central mirror. The purpose of this 45 cm lens is to concentrate the sunray into a 20 cm wide column, just as it strikes the globe.
By August 8 th the two stationary mirrors were ready for trial; they were given a good cleaning and the green light for the ray to reach the Chamber. The sun-tracking mirror swung slowly into position and then, after some adjustments, the ray had magically returned to the Inner Chamber! It pierced brightly down through the still air of the white room and touched the central crystal. This visible beam of sunlight shone brilliantly on the white marble beneath the crystal as it passed through that large transparent globe. Reflected upwards again by the marble, the sunlight illuminated the room, filling the Chamber with its happy light. The long awaited return of the Sun to the Chamber was accomplished.
Inside the sphere…
Meantime, the interior of the sphere is a hive of activity. The exposed concrete beneath the Chamber (floor and cantilever and piers) is being cleaned, while all the marble will get a protective coating.
Of the total of 13 rows of the inner skin, 8 rows have already been put in place on the northeast quadrant. Work on the northwest quadrant is underway. The scaffolding will remain up until all four quarters are ready, but from the photo below, you can get an idea of what the inner skin looks like now.
This black and white photo of the inner skin fails to convey the vibrancy of its orange glow.
The coloured foils which will provide the golden pink colour to the interior of the sphere during the daylight hours will be put in place later on. For now there are some orange foils, to give a sense of the atmosphere that will prevail in the lower half of the sphere. The LED's for the nighttime lighting inside the sphere – a combination of three different diodes is needed to get the exact colour the Mother had wanted! – will be installed in due course. The software to control the inner skin lighting is in process too. The work of fitting the panels is going smoothly, at the rate of 5 to 6 panels per day (there are 768 in all!) We'll have to wait until the scaffolding is finally removed to see the final effect of these triangles.
As for the spiral ramps, things are moving albeit more slowly than we had hoped. The aluminum channels which will hold the glass parapets are being manufactured and installed progressively. The floor of the ramp will be made up of aluminum honey comb panels, and these have been ordered from the United States . They are expected to arrive in October. There is good news on the glass front too: the glass for the ramps can be manufactured and bent in Chennai itself and the order will have been placed by the time you read this. Research into the best carpet for the ramp is also in progress, with several samples already having been received. We are very hopeful that the ramp will be ready by February 2007, along with most of the other major works on the structure and petals.
With the Kemperol work finished now, the replacing of the golden discs that had been on the structure earlier has now come full circle, with all those discs having been mounted again now. The remaining 4 lowest rows are being fitted in place now, and the eastern quadrant already being complete.
The newly planted drought resistant grass on the petals leading up to the sphere on the eastern side.
Next will come the large discs above each of the four main entrances – each of these discs measures 4 m across! - and the installation of the golden shields above, on the side of and below the entrances. The fabrication of the tiles for the shields and discs is being done at a factory in Pondicherry . It looks like the shields and discs for the North and West pillars will be ready by February, but that the East and South entrances will take longer. The doors for all four entrances are also under preparation.
Two view of the golden shields, one showing the path and staircase leading up to entrance, and the other, a closer view of the actual shield.
The crane which will be mounted on the top is likely to arrive in mid-October, but it is not clear yet exactly when it will be installed on top of Matrimandir. This crane will be essential for all maintenance works to the exterior of the sphere in future.
Of the 12 meditation rooms inside the large petals, 2 are completely ready and air-conditioned. Another four rooms are painted and ready for air-conditioning and we are proceeding with the ventilation of these petals, which will eventually be air-conditioned. Lighting and painting of the remaining 6 petals remains to be done, along with the ventilation. We hope to have at least one more meditation room open by December, but all 12 meditation rooms should be completed by February 2007.
These rooms will assume importance in early 2007 when it is likely that the Inner Chamber will be closed for about a month to make an intensive push for February completion. As you will have noted, it is clear that our target date for completion has shifted forward to February 2007, specifically the 21 st , Mother's birthday, and this date will also mark 36 years since the laying of the foundation stone of Matrimandir. Even then, it looks like there may be a few items remaining to be done- and one can safely say that there will always be something to be done on the Matrimandir even when it is ‘finished', for maintenance of the structure and all its elements is going to be a steady occupation in future.
And here we have not even mentioned that the Gardens and the Lake around the Matrimandir will only really begin once the structure is complete! Even so, the irrigation system of underground pipes that will provide a substructure for any gardens that may come is nearing completion now, and the ‘gutter' defining the 1 km long perimeter of the Oval pathway is being dug and concreted already.
As always, we are grateful for the love and support of hundreds of people all over the world who have been helping the Matrimandir to reach completion for months or years. One of our friends, from South America , recently spent some time in Auroville and has sent us the following poem, and we hope that its simple words will convey some of the atmosphere here to you, wherever you are:
The sound of your silence
The white of your whiteness
Address for donations and correspondence:
M A T R I M A N D I R - A U R O V I L L E 6 0 5 1 0 1 -
T A M I L N A D U - I N D I A
Tel. (91) (0413) 262-2268 ; 262-2228 (finance). FAX: (91) (0413) 262-2053;