After months of planning, we finally decided to book train tickets to Puducherry. We had no idea about the place, nor we had known anyone who had gone there. We just saw some beautiful pictures on Instagram and that was it. Why not Puducherry?
It took us some time to find an affordable room and a nice place to eat breakfast. There are a lot of rooms available near the White Town and its better because there are a lot to see within a kilometre radius. We had to get ready by afternoon and had to cover the nearby destinations by the end of the day. We left out the big endeavours for the very next day.
Its better to rent a bike or a scooter when you are in Puducherry because buses don't get into most of the places and you would have to walk an extra mile. You can find lot of cheap rentals in Mission Street.
We took 2 scooters and a bike and we had to ride triple in one scooter. But don't worry, Puducherry has got the least strict traffic system. Its actually funny that its hard to find someone wearing helmets in the city, even the police officers don't.
We went straight to promenade beach, the heart of Puducherry. They say history lies on promenade beach form one end to another.
To walk down Puducherry's famous Goubert Avenue, or beach road as it is referred to, is a lesson in history. Every building on the road, once known as Cours Chabrol, has a story to tell.
Puducherry was a union territory a few years back. The soil here has the stories of French, English and the dutch to tell. The French revolution started and ended here. After the English left India, Puducherry was under French for a long time. Later it got diluted with India. Now, Puducherry is a separate state with Telugu, Malayalam and French as official languages. The culture stick to these languages. Puducherry's history started when the French East India Company established habitats in 1673. In 1693 the Dutch defeated French and took Puducherry. After six years they returned it to the French and left. Even after India got independence Puducherry was under the rule of French until 1954. The foreign rule had changed Puducherry from just a ocean side village to a well planned tourist destination.
Tourists here are mostly French, like they are at every corner of the town, some of the French never left Puducherry. I mean who would, right? Promenade's like the cleanest beach you'll ever see and also you can literally see ocean without the barrier of sand. There aren't many beaches like that in India.
There are a lot of French and Italian restaurants by the side of beach and also lots of wine parlours.
Puducherry is famous for its wood fried pizza which unfortunately we didn't had the luck to taste.
White Town - Black Town
During the French rule, the white and black people were divided by a canal. White Town and Black town. There are only two bridges built across the canal so that the others won't get into White Town. White town is the exact Puducherry. The promenade beach and all the historical places are situated there. Every building in White Town has a French touch, like they are amazingly architected and painted beautifully.
Most of the buildings had been turned into cafes or restaurants.
We decided to spent the night roaming through the streets. It seemed that Puducherry become alive after sunset. During night Promenade beach became more beautiful, crowded with locals and tourists. Vehicles are restricted entry to Promenade beach after 6 pm till 6 am. It gives way to pedestrians, even cycles are not allowed.
It was the World Cup season and England Vs Sweden was displayed on a large screen at the beach. All sorts of people was there chanting for their favourite team. Divided by country, caste, religion and united by the beautiful game. It was really a alluring sight to see.
I can't start describing the day 2 without praising the dosa and coffee we had from the Indian Coffee House. The place had that ethnic touch and the food was really good. I turn back and I realise that this is all we need. A cup of coffee and a little bit of conversation.
It was about a 12km ride to Auroville international township, started by Sri Aurobindo's disciple Mother Mirra Alfasa. Auroville is a French word which means rising city in English. Spread about for about 4000 acres, Auroville gives habitat to thousands of people from around 54 countries. Majority of Auroville's citizens are foreigners, there are doctors, teachers, all sorts of people.
They all visit Auroville and stay there for weeks, months to live in harmony and peace. There are about 5 schools, restaurants, bakeries, farms, solar plants, a self sustaining miracle is what Auroville is. Anyone who had ever visited Auroville would undoubtedly want to stay there for a couple of days.
This architectural wonder took 37 years to build and was completed in 2008. It is in the form of huge sphere surrounded by twelve petals. The dome is covered by golden disks and reflects sunlight. Inside this central dome is meditation hall known has inner chamber - this contains the largest optically-perfect glass globe in the world. Over 300 people can meditate here at the same time. You'll need to book two days before in order gain permission to enter Matrimandir which we unluckily hadn't.
There are small shacks in and around Auroville were decent food are available.
This pristine, beautiful beach is meticulously taken care of and host of benefits from food and beverages to showers and restrooms. Swimming is permitted close to shore only. Bring an extra pair of clothes if you wanna dip in.
The beach is private and hence closes at 5pm and requires an admission fee.