Saturday, August 11, 2012
A Trip to Remember... Pondicherry
Pondicherry has been recently named as PUDUCHERRY and is a small town in the Eastern seaboard in India. The diverse tourist attractions here include a 32 km coastline, clean beaches, backwaters and fishing villages, Sri Rishi Aurobindo’s Ashram, the much talked about Auroville, and its French heritage. Apart from this, one can gorge on great seafood and some tax-free wine/liquor.
If you are expecting some Goa-like experience, you are likely to be disappointed as this town is not much commercially developed and is most suitable for a peaceful weekend gateway.
Pondicherry is well connected to the districts and towns of major states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh and is best accessible by road from Chennai. One can also hire a car and reach this place as it is hardly 3 to 4 hour drive form Chennai. Moreover there are frequent buses from places like Thanjavur, Trichy, Coimbatore and Bangalore.
As I was residing in Chennai at the time of visit, we went by a car which was a 3.5 hour drive approximately. We took the ECR Road as it was not only the shorter way, but is also famous for its scenic beauty. As you drive through the road, one can see the virgin coastline on one side and occasional back waters on the other. At some point, we got down from our car and stopped at a spot that was actually a shrimp culture area. We even took some snaps on a virgin beach on ECR Road. Finally, we reached Pondicherry and headed straight towards the Gandhi Beach.
What we did…
Gandhi beach wasn’t much inspiring as its completely cemented and actually doesn’t fit the criteria of being a beach.
Next we went to the much talked about Auroville. Auroville was founded by Mirra Alfassa (Sri Ma) and 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. As we reached this place, we couldn’t see anything that could interest us. However, the documentary on Auroville and how it was shaping an experimental town was enlightening. It is only after watching this documentary that you can proceed towards the Matri Mandir.
Matri Mandir is situated in the middle of the town and is meant for meditation. You need to walk at least 2 Kms to see this marvelous structure. We were amazed to see the huge golden globe that stood among the manicured gardens. After spending sometime there, we returned back and moved around a bit. There was a small restaurant nearby that served organic food and a cute little boutique that sold various handicrafts manufactured by the residents of Auroville.
Now it was Beach Time… I mean that’s what we were there for…
There is a place called Chhunambar Beach that can be reached through a boat. This beach is very clean (unlike the ones in Chennai) and majority of the crowd can be found here. We spent some quality time in this beach and had our lunch at a café nearby. There are not many options for food here, so its better of you could carry some with you.
We had a deadline to come back so couldn’t visit Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram which is near to the Gandhi Beach. If you are with a bunch of friends, you can choose to stay here for a day to explore more options. There are quite a number of hotels and resorts in the city. But, you may not be lucky enough to get a sea facing property.
Pondicherry was a French Colony and hence, a little bit of French heritage is still alive here. You can gorge on authentic French food here which is easily available.
I have had a memorable trip to Pondicherry… tell me about yours.
Also, let me know if any other information is required…