When my mom asked me where I was planning to travel this weekend I said Pondicherry and she seemed to be ok with it. Frankly I had no plans to go anywhere and I still wonder why I said Pondicherry(Puducherry). Now that the permission was granted, without wasting anytime I went on to book bus tickets to Pondicherry before my mom could change her mind. As I didn’t succeed in finding a good accommodation online I decided to take the risk of finding one once i reach. Later in the evening when i told my friends about my trip to Pondi they wanted to join me and sadly none got tickets in the same bus.
I boarded the bus first from Bangalore at night followed by other 3 other buses in which my friends were traveling left. I feel privileged to get good sleep while traveling. Next thing I remember was my conductor calling out ‘Last stop, Last stop’. It was morning & I had reached Pondicherry. I looked into my phone which was flooded with calls & texts from my friends who had reached much earlier & were waiting for me at bus stop.
Finding accommodation & renting vehicle to travel was our plan of action as soon as we met. We took an auto paying 75rs to Mission Street and rented 2 wheeler paying 350rs for a day. As it was a long weekend we were sure finding a hotel in Whitetown was out of question to that matter even the luxurious resorts that Pondicherry flaunts. We rode towards Auroville searching for places to stay. We came across an attractive big house with a blend of French & Indian architecture in one of the mud roads. I would have loved staying there but luck didn’t favour us as the place was full said the owner. We stopped at a home stay a km away from main road and my friend went to check the place. She was greeted by a Great Dane that came barking towards her but no sight of any humans. We left the place as we didn’t want to miff the dog any further. After riding around for some time we then settled in one of the resorts at Auroville beach.
It was 2pm when we stepped out. We took a boat ride to Paradise beach one of the cleanest beaches in Pondicherry. After spending some quality time, we came to Promenade Beach (known as, “Pondicherry Beach”) and directly went to Le Café at the seafront for snacks. It was busy as usual and doesn’t score high on hospitality. Beach road is a 1.2-kilometre-long stretch in Pondicherry which starts from War Memorial and ends at Dupleix. One side of the road is the Beach and the other side the famous Whitetown (known as, “French Colony”) which was the French Quarters resembling an old French town. As I walked around I came across French villas now converted to heritage hotels and restaurants, many charming café’s, French style yellow – blue colored colonial buildings with large wooden doors, street names written in French and boutiques for shopping. The old world charm doesn’t fade away.
It was close to 7pm on hearing loud music we walked towards Gandhi Statue on beach road. An African band was performing which slowly started drawing crowd. Many tourist were seen dancing and I heard from a local that every weekend there will be events organized at this place. For dinner we went to Le Club located under a large and artfully lit pandal in the garden of an old French villa.
Next morning we went to Auroville beach right in front of our cottage. Later headed to Matrimandir in Auroville in our Mopeds. En route, we saw many foreigners riding mopeds. Most of them live here and few are travelers who come here to recharge their spiritual batteries.
Auroville & Matrimandir
Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (known as “the Mother”) 14 kms from Pondicherry. The Inauguration ceremony was attended by delegates of 124 nations. Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. It belongs to humanity as a whole.
Matrimandir is situated at the centre of Auroville . It is called soul of the city & took 37 years to be built.
As we walked in, there was a hall showing a video of the meditation center, its history and architecture narration in great detail. We got free entry coupons to visit the viewing point from where we could see the meditation center as the entry inside is restricted. There are few cafes to fill your thirst.
Having heard a lot about Tanto Pizzeria I definitely wanted to go there for lunch and we did like I wished. It gets crowded on weekends and finding table took a while. It has outdoor seating amidst plants but nothing fancy. Make sure you follow up on orders.Wood fired thin crust pizza was the best and the rest was above average.
We went back towards Whitetown to visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram and then Our Lady of Angels church which drew my attention. Later munched at Café Xtasi which is currently trending in Pondicherry. We happened to drive past The Indian Kaffe Express on our mopeds and decided to try their coffee.
During sunset we sat on the rocks of Promenade beach as the waves came crashing. After a failed attempt at meditation we walked towards Gandhi statue. Today there was an Indian classical dance performance. Beautiful young girls performed Bharatanatyam expressing a part of a play with hand and facial gestures.
Since the time we landed in Pondi my friend couldn’t stop thinking about getting her hands into a plate of fish curry and rice.So we ended our trip with dinner at a local restaurant near the bus stop to satisfy her cravings. We finally bid adieu to Pondicherry & to each other as we boarded our respective buses to return to Bangalore.
Pondicherry flaunts luxurious resorts and French villas for well-heeled tourists, mid-range beach houses to cheap home stays. No matter what your budget is pondicherry can accommodate anyone making it a must visit place for all travelers. Drive around in your own vehicle, rent a 2 wheeler, take on auto or even go for cycle tours to see the city. Alcohol is cheap when bought from wine shops in town. Best time for a stroll in Whitetown is evenings when the sun is about to disappear. Whitetown & MG Road houses many Café’s that you should definitely try. Keep yourself hydrated as it gets very hot during the day. Beaches here are not the best for swimming but being there during sunset/sunrise is a wonderful sight.
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