Pondicherry is the capital city of Indian union territory of Puducherry nestling along the coastline of Bay of Bengal. It is affectionately known as Pondy. The area was a part of the Pallava Kingdom, The Cholas, the Pandya Kingdom etc. The French acquired Puducherry with an occasional interruption by the British and the Dutch. Its culturally diverse for which pondy’s history is to be blamed.
Every place has a story, every street, every pathway, every by lane, they are waiting for you to unfold them. Stories coming from Pondy are the most varied, diverse in terms of people and architecture. Vibrant and dull, historic and conventional, Indian and not so Indian. Pondy is a paradox!
See, Read, Experience to believe it!
Day 1: Experiencing the Bay of Bengal for the first time
I love these early morning flights, how often do we get to see the sun rising. We landed in Chennai early morning from Mumbai, the ride to Pondicherry was extremely blissful. There were Beautiful roads & the air was fresh (may be the charm of a new place). On the way we decided to drop in Auroville tourist centre for our Matrimandir bookings, we booked our meditation program in Matrimandir a took a Monday morning session (Thankfully we did that as it’s closed on Tuesdays) we entered the White town part of Pondicherry in the quiet Dumas street and reached our guest house Lescale. The best part of being placed in white town was that we were surrounded by some amazing food joints. There was a food guide blog we referred to when in Pondy & we went crazy following it. We were greeted by Old churches of different architecture styles, colorful houses, sleepy silent streets, French Quarters, typical Tamil houses. Also that Greece element Bougainvillea was present everywhere – Adorning windows, over compound walls, beautifying already graceful motifs, around rustic doors almost everywhere.
We enjoyed fish delicacies in Le Club on our first day.
Our evening was spent at the Promenade, just 2 min walking distance. Promenade is the Marine drive of Pondicherry, sitting at the edge witnessing these crazy waves crashing, every after 2 waves, I went back with jerk thinking now the 3rd one is going to hit me! Bay of Bengal was the most violent, the most blue, most beautiful, most pristine it could ever be! It was the most unusual Rhythmic Background to our long chats, picturesque setup for our colorful outfits, and carefree nonjudgmental winds for 2 happy souls. Evening was followed by a dinner at Satsung with red snapper fish hiding behind a cream green color yummy basil sauce with mashed potatoes to accompany and yummy Garlic breads. This set up was perfect to finish our first day in this wonderland.
Day 2: Experiencing the Celestial MatriMandir, Auroville.
We started on our hired bike from Lescale, it was a 40 min ride from our guest house to Matri mandir. The only KIND OF “experimental” township in the world is called Auroville (City of Dawn).
The concept of Auroville as Mother – Mirra Alfassa states is for one and all, Men women of all countries it’s a symbol of Humanity. People from various parts of the world have been living here since long. The Matrimandir, a golden metallic sphere in the center of town which was conceived by Alfassa as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection”. There is silence and discipline maintained here. The experience in the mandir is out of the world, It felt as if we are walking inside earth’s sphere. There are spiral ramps leading upwards to an enclosed space with only skylight being the provision for light directly hitting on the crystal kept in the centre. The sphere is air-conditioned with mattress kept along the unsupported columns. This space has been built exactly the way mother saw it in dream. The landscaping is beautiful all around Matrimandir. Auroville is planned in such a way with Matrimandir being the epicenter of the town & with “Residential Zone”, “Industrial Zone”, “Cultural (& Educational) Zone” and “International Zone” around it. The project has received full backing from Govt of india & UNESCO. It is a living example of sustainable living, future cultural social, spiritual needs of man. It’s a must visit when in Pondy!
We made a lunch stop at Tantos- it truly serves the best Pizza ever. We had Shrimps, beacon pizza and its taste is still hovering on our tongue. After freshening up we made a visit to paradise island- its formed due to tsunami, its pristine, virgin & beautifully blue!
Day 3: Anniversary day!
When I say Pondy is paradox , it is !
Paradox : a tranquil town had not woken up at 8:00am , but when we reached here in the market it was a different story all together . There was Hustle bustle around, people assembling their products trying their best to make the first sale of the day right from fruits to vegetable to colorful flowers. It was an awesome atmosphere here!
3 hours Bicyle ride
I opted for a 3 hour Bicyle tour called as ‘wake up pondy. I m glad I did that. It was such an amazing experience riding through pondy early in the morning. From Tamil houses, French houses, churches, ashrams, schools, I could see all. The best was early morning visit to The Basilica Of The Sacred Heart of Jesus, a fine & beautiful example of Gothic architecture. Riding through the white town, felt like I was in France.
Later that day we could visit The Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges church. I was so overwhelmed after entering here, was it the vault ceiling, the checkered floor, the vintage lights, the arches, the Greco-Roman architecture that we used to study in design school, the fact that Napoleon III visited here, Corinthian columns or just all of it in one frame. It was so beautiful n beyond words. Sometimes the feeling you get at some spaces cannot be explained!! I am between an atheist and a believer, but sometimes the art, talent and conviction of a man astonishes me. They can construct something so beautiful just out of the feeling of devotion!
Our day was well spent with evening ritual of sitting at the promenade.
I had a ‘sea moment’ !
We grow up and everything changes. We are made up of such amazing moments which seem so tiny. I couldn’t stop myself gazing at that tiny little girl, her dad clicking her picture as she posed. I couldn’t stop myself some series of flashbacks, couldn’t stop myself from making this my little memory. I love such ‘Little things in life’, I love such Travel moments. We used to sit for hours at this place just chit chatting & Observing people at the promenade. That day’s dinner was at Celine’s Kitchen ended with chicken tikka masala and roti (back to our roots, as we were tired of Pizzas, pastas, Loafs)
Day 4: Bidding Adieu!
It was the most difficult thing to do, so we spent our last few minutes at the Promenade with a morning walk, munching again on loafs & chai and a concluding picture with our awesome host Nicholas. We had a good 3 hour ride back to Chennai airport with a superb stop at a stall for Black tea.
The best thing about roaming is it lets you observe and question and relate. But the ultimate thing is it lets you be you. They say ‘The gladdest moment in human life, is a departure into unknown lands.” So true!! I want to go back to this place again and again and again!
To live is to Travel.
My resolution 2017 is to die well traveled.