A rare combination of coastal Indian and French cuisine, Puducherry is our own French colony with a tangy tinge of India in it. A place well known for peace and tranquil owed not just to the Aurobindo and Auroville Ashram but also to the Serenity and Paradise (beaches). A true escape from the regular hustle bustle of a busy corporate life. When me and my friend decided that we go away from work for a while, this was our first choice for no specific reasons.
Day 1 – Bonjour Pondi
We took a flight, a direct one from Hyderabad to Puducherry. For those who didn’t know, yes. There is a single flight from Hyderabad to Puducherry courtesy Spicejet. So if you do not want to while away your time in boarding buses, trains and cabs, do check out for direct flights from your place. Reached Pondi at about 11.30 am and hit our hotel – The GINGER. All we had was a list of places to visit in our 3 day stay here. So the first thing we did was to have a wonderful lunch out at the hotel where we were put up. For us, Pondi was all about Fish. So we went ahead and ordered their signature fish dish (which by the way took ages to be served). Totally worth the wait, must say!!!!
After this heavenly treat we hit the road, literally hit the road. Found out the local market and rented a bike for our trip. And off we went to the Auroville Ashram (Thanks to Google maps). Since we had not booked earlier, we could just have a look around and witness the Matr Mandir. It is truly an exercise for those who are mostly confined to their desks because of their work. Almost 3 – 4 kms of walk inside to reach the spot. We felt weird when we saw people cycling their way in and out. But after a looooooong walk (which felt like almost 20 kms) when we got to witness the Dome, we didn’t really mind it. We then headed out to visit few temples – Manekula Vinayagar temple and the Varadaraj Perumal temple (which we initially mistook to be Kanniga Parameswari temple, thanks to Google Maps again). We then hit our first beach of our trip, Promenade. A cool walk along the shore with the sound of waves hitting every now and then in the background is something you need to experience if you are in Pondi. Its like an Ilayaraja classic which brings in the aroma of life. Did you just read aroma???? There was another aroma apart from Ilayaraja’s classic which was inviting us….. The Le Cafe, the French cuisine dine out which served the best Pizzas of Pondi (says Google again).
Day 2 – Our Panai Soru Kozhambu
For those who know me and my lazy bones well, it takes a thought about beach and a stubborn friend to move my ass at 5 in the morning. And before we could even think about it, we were off on our very own Dhanno to the Serenity Beach. Rocks, water, sand and an eerie calm. Priceless. Our plan for the day was to visit Aurobindo Ashram and the much talked about French colony. So we hit the road with Dhanno and google maps. We also visited the St. Basillica Church and the Samba Kovil. Only to find ourself famished. We found this hoarding on a posh looking hotel on our way out every now and then. To put an end to our curious pangs, we walked right into it just to taste one of the most heavenly delicacies of the world.
Must say, the soup (Nand poondu rasam) Crab served in steaming hot garlic rasam turned out to be a relish but could not beat the original ‘Oru Panai Soru Kozhambu’ literally meaning One Pot (Mud Pot) full of steamed rice and curry. I am pretty sure, a thought that we have landed right out of a draught stricken area must have crossed Ms. Anita, the waitress who served us this delicacy. After this master hog, we hit our hotel back and probably didn’t want to head out anywhere else. Later in the evening we headed out to Promenade beach again, this time around to try out some authentic French cuisine for dinner and ended up at the Coramandel Cafe, famous for its ambience and cuisine. We were pleasantly surprised after looking at the menu, probably because we were totally unaware of what French cuisine is all about. Overall, it turned out to be more of an Indian flavour to what seemed like a French savoury. And all night through I had just one question on my mind. How could ‘Paneer’ make it to the French cuisine???
Day 3 – Buddha Bay
Wherever you are, Sundays are bound to make you feel lazy. And Sunday it was. After our free breakfast, we decided to take a nap for a while longer to make it up to the Sunday effect. After which we hit the road to the Eswaran Kovil which incidentally is right next to the Varadaraj Perumal temple. We then visited the Puducherry Museum. Reminded me of one of our History classes back in school (in a nice way though). I was specially attracted towards the Paintings that were put up there. Marvellous. And then we decided instantly that we would have some local food that day at Adayar Anand Bhavan. The Veg Thali (Meals) there could deceive anyone into believing it was not sufficient. But turned out to be as filling as ever. We then chilled out a little and went shopping to the MAX store there. We had booked for a dine out at Bay of Buddha (The best Pub at Pondi as told by Google) which is a roof top at Promenade Hotel for that night. Our last night at Pondi. All thanks to Mr. Nizamuddin, the desk manager at Promenade who managed to keep a slot available for us and the best one too.
Day 4 – Jour Des Coquillages
The plan for the day was to reach Chennai for our flight back to Hyderabad at night via Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram, as it is popularly known as. Before we left Pondi, we visited the Paradise Beach, just in time to witness the sunrise.
It was time to bid adieu to our Dhanno, a true blue VESPA which had been our travel mate for 3 days. Took up a cab from Pondi to Chennai. Just at the time when we were thinking, it was all over so soon, we came across a surprise. A pleasant one though. A Shell and Pearl museum. A real eye candy. Not many of them knew about this. Had not heard about it earlier. Not even from Google. And then we stopped over at a food court for a quick bite. But obviously Fish being the flavour of the day.
We then saw the Shore Temple, Pancha Rathas, The unfinished cave of Krishna Mandapa, the Light House (scary stairs) and stepped by the famous Tiger cave. But then bunked the cave and pushed off straight to the waves across. Had a good time at the beach there and headed back to the Airport (Chennai).
A trip to remember – Flight, Fun, Food, Fish, Friends, Fusion, Fossils, Fotos and Fondi.
Lessons from my FONDI trip
- It is good to check out all possible options of travel and commute well before taking a trip.
- Should have tried one of the home stays at the French Colony.
- It is good if you know / can manage with the local language – Tamil. Even otherwise, English rules.
- Never be in a rush to finish off all the places to visit or things to do in your trip list. It is sometimes good to stay back where you are and enjoy the moment. A la Deepika Padukone in ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’. After all you didn’t pay for the hotel room just to keep your belongings.
- Trust google maps. But also make sure you confirm with local people around about places of visit. Deadly combination, especially if you are not a native local. And last, but never the least,
- It is alright to not have photos of a certain place, point or people as long as we have the memories close to our heart.