I’ve always been an avid audience of travel shows even before the TLC era. I’d pretend to host my own travel show while Deepti Bhatnagar would take you on a trip around the world on Musafir Hoon Yaaron ( Cable TV obsessed ’90s kids would know what I’m talking about). That along with travel shows featuring India on Discovery channel used to be my favourites. One destination that always caught my fancy was Pondicherry, and I finally got a chance to visit the place last year.
Pondicherry, fondly known as Pondi is easily accessible by road, quite scenic a ride actually. The nearest airport is Chennai and you can take a bus or take a taxi from the airport. The taxi drivers will quote exorbitant rates and it’s best to use your haggling skills to bring the rates down between 800-1000 INR.
The moment you enter the French quarters you can see a stark difference in the architecture and the attitude of the people. The town is lined with churches and buildings exhibiting French architecture and the walls in shades of white and yellow. The streets are still named ‘Rue’ highlighting the colonial influence.
Pondicherry has earned it’s reputation as a tourist destination and there are plenty of options for travelers to stay depending upon the budget. I happened to stay at the beautiful yet inexpensive Hotel Coromandal Heritage located right in the heart of the city. The manager was extremely courteous and helped us get some great deals on bike rentals. Bikes, besides your feet of course, are the best means of getting in and around the city.
Eat Pray Love!
Let Zomato and Trip Advisor be your best friends in Pondi. Go by their recommendations for the top rated places, they are definitely worth visiting. Spend some time strolling the streets of Pondi, getting lost in the French quarters, finding peace at the Aurobindo Ashram and blessings from the Lakshami, the elephant at the Manakula Vinayagar Temple.
Pondi is a foodies paradise. There’s something for every palate right from a sumptuous organic breakfast at Kasha-ki- Asha which gives you the best whole wheat pancakes and DIY lemon soda to a delightful lunch amidst kitsch and quirk at Cafe Des Art followed by the heavenly hot chocolate that is served with a solid chocolate spoon at Cafe Ole and finally a scrumptious dinner of woodfired pizzas at Cafe Xtasi. Sipping some chilled beer at Paradise beach without a care in the world is something to be experienced.
Auroville has become synonymous with Pondicherry and for good reason. Hundreds of visitors throng to India’s largest eco friendly township everyday to experience the Auroville way of life. Everything right from the food at cafes to the stuff at boutiques is organic and amazingly amazing! I found some really cool souvenirs as well as the richest handmade chocolates there. If you have time at hand, do apply for the visitor’s pass at Matri Mandir, the beautiful golden dome center and spend some time there meditating.
My Pondi sojourn came to an end with a stroll on the Promenade followed by a hearty south Indian dinner at Cafe Surguru.
I can’t wait to go back!