Friday, December 29, 2017

Pondicherry

Ever since I got engaged, my bro and I were planning a trip to Pondicherry. My fiance was working in Chennai at the time and the plan was that she would join us and we would have a bachelor party sort in Pondy. But with all the wedding preparations, the plan never took off. Fast forward 6 months after the wedding and a weekend finally came which was optimal for visiting Pondicherry. Google said it will rain the entire week except for the weekend when the weather was supposed to be pleasant. Thus began our short and relaxing trip which was spent mostly by the beaches and cafes. 

We booked an Innova from Bangalore for around 11pm and reached Pondicherry by 6am. Our AirBnB guy was kind enough to keep the room ready for us that early. We took a 3hr power nap and headed out searching for a place for breakfast. We found - Kasha Ki Asha right next to our house. They have a limited menu and the food here is expensive for the quantity they serve. The food was good though.

After a hearty breakfast we wanted to go to the Aurobindo ashram but it is closed at noon and we couldn't reach there before time. The house we stayed in was in White Town and was at 10 minute walk from all major attractions in Pondy. We visited the Notre Dame de Anges church first which looks similar to Notre Dame in Paris (I know because I have been there ;) )

We then walked by the Rock Beach which has a bunch of monuments like a French memorial, Gandhi Statue and an old light house. There are also museums and exhibitions which you can visit if you are with family or are interested in them.
 
Bro and I spent time babysitting my niece as she played in the Bharati Park while the ladies went shopping on mission street.
We then regrouped at Cafe Xtasi for some amazing wood fired pizza. If you visit this restaurant as a group, you should definitely try their large pizza (It does total justice to the adjective and is HUGE!)

We wanted to go to the Paradise Beach which is accessible by the boat. The river meets the sea at Paradise Beach. However due to rains the previous week, it was closed for tourists. We just took a trip on the boat which costed Rs 150 per person and was totally not worth it. If the Paradise beach was open then it costs Rs 200 per person for two way boat ride. The Paradise beach is on one side of the river, but there is a way to reach the other side of the river which you can find through Google Maps and it is worth a visit there during sunset.

We went to Rock beach again at night and had dinner at LeCafe. This cafe is open 24hrs and is also pretty cheap but the food is not that great. Since we were at the east coast, my cousin and I woke up early to see the sunrise. For our bad luck, it is not visible from the rock beach. On googling we came to know that the sunrise is best viewed from Serenity beach. We came back and had another power nap as the checkout time was 11am. We went to The Indian Kaffe Express for breakfast with prices comparable to the ones in Bangalore and amazing food too. The caramel sauce on the waffle was heavenly.
 
We then went to Baker Street which is a highly recommended bakery/cafe on Bussy street. We got croissants, cinnamon rolls, cookies and chocolate eclairs which we took to the Serenity Beach where we had a picnic..

It was cloudy so it was a perfect picnic spot. You can enter water here as it is not so deep.

We stopped by the newly opened Nutshell restaurant for some tea by the beach. We left from the beach at around 3pm. We reached Krishnagiri for dinner at one of those fake Saravana Bhavans. All of us were very hungry since we did not have a proper lunch and hence gobbled up food as it came (I am sure it was quite a sight to the people seated on the tables beside us). We reached Bangalore at 10:30pm.


Recos for Pondicherry:
  • Stay somewhere in White Town or at a walkable distance from Rock Beach. We stayed at the Tamil House (as listed on AirBnB which on booking, the actual address came as Villa Indra) It was a 3BHK, each with attached bath. One room had 2 single beds and other two rooms had queen size beds. The hall is huge with a small kitchen counter. The price was Rs 5500/night.
  • Bussy Street, MG Road Area and Mission street have a lot of cafes, pubs and street shopping
  • As per my friend Akshaya - LePondy in Paradise Beach and LeClub in White Town have good food. One was closed and the other was bit far for us so we missed both :(
  • My friend Amruth from Twitter recommended Indian Coffee House for good dosas and pongal. 
  • Serenity beach is a must visit and it is on the way to Auroville in case you plan to visit it too.
  • Innova from Bangalore - Rs 12/km + Rs 2500 for tax/permit
  • In case you guys decide to take the train or bus to Pondicherry and wish to rent cabs there then this pic I took should be helpful.

Now time for a trip down the memory lane. The trip I took in 2013 was way different from this one. We were a bunch of 23yr old guys who booked a Tata Sumo to Pondicherry and mainly visited temples *sigh* (We were decent guys back then :P) We left Friday night and reached pondy on Saturday morning. We searched for a cheap hotel, checked in and after freshening up went to the Aurobindo Ashram, Rock beach, Auroville and Serenity beach that day.


The next morning we headed out to Mahabalipuram and covered Shore temple by noon.


From there we went to the Kanchi Varadaraja temple and finally visited the Vellore Golden Temple. You probably can visit Madurai temple too and also shop for sarees if you have time in hand.

PS: Thank you FB for these pics from 2013 and itinerary which I had lost.

So depending on number of days you have and the company you are with you can stick to a relaxing trip or take a spiritual route with the temples and Auroville or both.

You might also be interested to read: Chandigarh-Kasauli-Amritsar, 5 States and 2 UT, YercaudSringeri and Horanadu, Hampi,
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