Pondicherry -Wondering why should it be your next destination? You are at the right place. Please read and I am sure you will plan a visit soon.
I think I have been a lot vulnerable to situations around me, of late. Getting over, be it monotony or person or situations or work is a little less easier. My heart was screaming aloud once again – Take Me Anywhere. I could not resist but agree to it. As a result of which I suddenly realized, there is something long pending on my Wish List. “A Solo Trip”!
Planning phase of a solo trip
I started browsing for places that are safe for solo woman travelers. I surprisingly found that there are a good number of places that allow a woman to be at her best and ease with utmost safety. Meanwhile that was like icing on the cake. I was not allowed to go on trips with friends, until this trip. I always traveled with family and cousins. Now that I decided to go solo, I need permissions to do so. I called around 6 times in 10 minutes to get approval. It was a BIG NO, NO! The 7th time I called, I said – I’ll take half lemon along with me. Approved! Partially Solo as it was half lemon along.
Booked my tickets and a hotel room. And I think that was a big moment of relief. I knew am finally going to travel. However, it took me a week to figure out what am I going to explore in the town. As a result of which I explored Google, Friends, Blogs, Quora and what not? Indeed that helped me. Soon after my tickets were booked, one of my friends was vacationing in Pondy with her family, that helped me too. My plan was for 2 days and I exactly knew what I was going to do there.
Pondicherry or Puducherry or Pondy is a Union territory of India. It lies in the southeast part of India in the state of Tamil Nadu. A very beautiful place for a perfect weekend getaway. My visit to Pondy was a memorable one and below are some of the glimpses.
Day 1 at Pondicherry:
Checked-in at Hotel South Avenue, Pondicherry. It is a friendly place. They provided me with the map and a slip that had the places to visit with highlights that are on the right side and left side of the hotel respectively. They insisted me to hire a 2-wheeler to go around the town. I instantly refused with a smile and said – I don’t ride. The receptionist said I don’t know how have you been managing all these days without riding. He looked at half lemon and said, at least she should learn by the time she joins college. I looked at half lemon and laughed out louder.
Started my way towards the Promenade beach, when I rode 50m from my hotel I started wondering if I was on the right direction. Half lemon insisted on using Navigation and we followed it calmly. We saw the huge bunch of foreign travelers going in a line of cycle rickshaws. Each one of them were so friendly and joyous, they waved at us, clicked pictures and moved. By the time all of them got down from their cycle rickshaw, we managed to reach the beach too. They clicked a few more pictures of us and so did we.
This is also called as rock beach. The name reflects the rocks that lay on the shore displaying all the happiness in the world. They get to hear each wave that hit them every minute, they listen to the stories that the waves bring in each time. Also, they allow the people to rest on them and listen to the waves. They are beautiful in their own way.
Walk on the beachside
As we walked on the shore along the rocks, a lot of visitors passed by us. Amongst all, what caught my attention more was a group of college going guys and girls. Each one of them being a couple and walking hand in hand. They stared at us and one couple approached us. The girl said – “Semma Beautiful!” I looked at Half Lemon and she said that means “Very Beautiful” in the local language(3 months of Chennai effect). She started beaming with pride that she knew something, which I failed to understand. I then started thinking what was that she called as beautiful? My Hat? Dress? Camera? Sling Bag? Or this tiny half lemon? I assumed it to be half lemon. The girl asked me my name and I said, Suzi. Shortly again she said beautiful. I said thank you and walked ahead.
Temples, Churches and Memorials
Along the seaside of Pondicherry are French War Memorial, Gandhi Statue, Marques Dupleix Statue, DOM Sub Invocatione Domina Angelorum Church, Nehru Statue, Manakkula Vinayagar Temple, Aurobindo Ashram, the very beautiful French colony, Bharati Park. Etc. All these can be covered in a days’ time. Visit the local handicrafts stores to buy the Candles, Soaps, Powder Soap, Hats, Earrings and leather items. These are special in Pondicherry. This place is also known for it’s popularity in movies like Talaash and Life of Pie.
Pondicherry is known for its heritage. Highly French-inspired town with beautiful French colony. The evenings are perfectly quiet, peaceful and serene. Dainty Cafes and Calm beaches invite the visitors with arms wide open. It’s a heaven for foodies and double delight if you love French Cuisine.
I took a heritage tour around the French Colony by walk. I parked my bicycle and chose to walk as I wanted an experience with every minute detail from this gorgeous town. Aurobindo Ashram is something beyond my thoughts. People all over the world come in search of Peace here. Talking about the foreign visitors, most of them are beautifully dressed in Indian Cotton clothes, while the Indians here are more westernized.The Ashram houses the Samadhi of Shri Aurobindo and Mother. The place is highly maintained when it comes to cleanliness. The localites are very cooperative and kind. Ask for help and you get it. Auto rickshaw guys talk in a reasonably good English and one can easily manage.
Evenings at the beach-side
Evenings are so beautiful here that, one falls in love with the place. Take long walks on the seaside, see if you don’t find peace. I envy those who stay there all the while, well I’m much aware of the fact that every place has its own perks. I sat by the shore, loved watching the waves and enjoyed looking at the kids blowing bubbles occasionally. In reality everything here is magical, the roads are busy in the evening people of all the age group dwell there for a good number of hours.
Afterwards, I quickly made my way to The Indian Kaffe House, my friend insisted me to go there. She reminded me multiple times and said I’m not supposed to miss that place. Well, it was beyond my expectations. It offers a variety of snacks, shakes, and Coffees. My quick pick was Ferrero Rocher shake, Pancake with Maple Syrup and French Fries (the best I’ve ever had). You should probably be trying it. To add to it was WT20 Indo-Pak Match, I watched a part of it at Café and then reached my hotel just before the match resumed after rains. Then I wonder what more can one ask to complete the day?
Day 2 at Pondicherry:
My next day at Pondicherry was as memorable as Day 1. I hired a local Auto rickshaw to reach Auroville. The thing I like the most about it is that it belongs to none any in particular. It belongs to Humanity. Mother Mirra Alfassa found this place in 1968. Undoubtedly, it is a Universal township. A very unique golden metallic sphere is locted close to the Center of Auroville, this is nothing but Matrimandir, built by Mother. This is a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection. Around 2500 people live inside Auroville, even though it is capable of housing many more.
Not every other person is allowed to enter Matrimandir, as it is typically a place to find one’s consciousness and not a tourist attraction. There is a beach close to it known as Auro Beach.
Chunnumbar Boating Camp and Paradise Beach
My next visit was to Chunnumbar Boating Camp. This is yet another scenic place. A good 20 minutes Boating took us to something known as Paradise Beach. The name is so apt, I say. One of those beaches to get inside the water. The water here is so calm and serene. After I thoroughly enjoyed the beach, I took a boat back to the Chunnumbar Camp.
Apart from everything else are these beautiful churches that are here. They are old and amazingly beautiful. Every Church has its own uniqueness. The evening lights make them look much more beautiful. All the 4 of them are not just buildings but God’s House.
Bharati Park & Botanical Garden
The Bharati Park and Botanical Garden are just around the City. Bharati Park being my favorite over the Botanical Garden which is nothing more than a Toy Train station.
The last part of my stay was Shopping at Pondicherry. However, I’m not too much of a shopping person. But yeah, the options here are abundant. Even though the handicrafts are very carefully done yet they are reasonably priced. The candles, soaps and cologne are a must. Street shopping for people who love accessories is another nice thing to do. The city is also popular for cotton fabrics. And it is known as a home for HIDESIGN and other leather items.
Before I checked-out of the Hotel, Half lemon told the Manager of the Hotel that she ain’t a half lemon errr. or School going kid. While she smartly conveyed that she works in an IT Firm. Later the Manager looked at me and raised his eye brows, I just smiled and said Bye to the staff.
Surely everything about this place makes my heart yell out ‘Take me there again!!’ Indeed it was a little like soloing! I gathered a tons of memories from here in the form of pictures. Finally now I fall short of words to describe this City of Dawn!