My friends and I got a 2 day break and we wanted to get out of Bengaluru. After a lot of discussion we zeroed in on Pondicherry. Even though I had been to pondicherry 2 years back, I didn't mind going to that coastal town again. We took the overnight bus from Bengaluru and reached Pondicherry the next day morning.
Pondicherry which is also known as Pondy and Puducherry is one place that is filled with a lot French flavour despite being in India. The people, the food, the streets, the language - everything has something to do with its old colonial rulers. I could feel their presence everywhere. Pondicherry has a very relaxed and leisurely approach to life and this is exactly the reason why people come here. Pondicherry is divided into the tamil quarter and french quarter by a canal which separates them. The french side has french names to its roads and buildings. The beach and the hotels also come in this part of the town. However all the shopping areas are in the tamil quarter.
Even though there isn't much to see around Pondicherry, a visit to the Aurobindo ashram/ Auroville is a must. We hired a couple of bikes and left for Auroville. It is situated in the outskirts of the town and we passed through serene localities before reaching there. We did a study tour of the place and then moved on to the lovely restaurant which served delicious french food. After some finger licking business we checked out the shops which sold curios, souvenirs, candles and different kind of hand made goods.
From the ashram we headed straight to the beach road, which is one of the most frequently visited roads in Pondicherry. There is a huge statue of Mahatma Gandhi on one side and a statue of Joan of Arc towards another end. With a lot of coffee shops and vendors around, this is a favourite spot with both the residents and the tourists. The road was also filled with evening walkers as this is a vehicle free road. We had some hot coffee and listened to the waves thrashing itself against the rocks. The icing on the cake was however the sea breeze blowing across our face taking us to the zenith of serenity. We didn't leave the place until it got really dark. Pondicherry lost this lovely beach to the Tsunami in 2004 when it swept across the east coast of India. The beach is now covered up with rocks and boulders to make sure that the waves dont start eating up the remaining piece of land. However people still sit on the rocks and enjoy their evenings. After the evening stroll it was time to gobble down some french food. We went to a french restaurant which was completely lit up in the night and helped ourselves to some lovely cocktails and a tasty french dinner.
The next day morning we visited a couple of churches of the 17th and 18th centuries. The churches have some lovely glass paintings and beautiful architecture which makes them a must visit for all tourists. Pondicherry also has a lovely museum and a french war memorial which are worth a visit.
Our next destination was Chunambur which was away from the town. We had to take a small boat ride across a big creek to reach the Paradise island beach. It is a lovely beach with absolutely no commercialisation except for one shop which provides refreshments for the visitors. It began drizzling while we were at the island and there was no place where we could get a cover. We returned back after an hour of fun at the beach. Pondicherry is known to be a shopper's paradise and we didn't want to miss out on it. After a small round shopping and lazying around, it was time for us to wind up our short trip to the lovely beach town, Pondy.
Whether you call it the French Riviera of the East or the Goa of the East Coast, Pondicherry has its own charm which makes people go back to her again and again.
Signing Note: French names, french culinary, french culture...Oops!! I missed out on a french madame.