Pondicherry: A tale of two cultures #BestOfTravel

11th Mar 2017

The essence of Pondy

Photo of Pondicherry: A tale of two cultures #BestOfTravel by Srijani Banerjee

Every time one reads about all the cheap places to visit or the safest place for female travellers or even the best place for solo travel, the name of Pondicherry keeps popping up again and again. Now if there was a place that seemed to have extreme aversion to my visit, it was Pondicherry. I forget the number of times my plans for Pondicherry got cancelled.

Finally I took matters in my own hand, asked destiny to mind it's own business and went to book my tickets for Pondicherry. A friend of mine also decided to join me hence the fun and excitement doubled up.

We went during the Holi weekend and it proved to be a big mistake. Pondicherry was teeming with tourists. The buses from Bangalore were full, the hotel rooms were full... but where there is a will there will be a way!! We found seats in a special bus of KSRTC and an overnight journey dropped us in Pondicherry early in the morning. The bus ride is a different story altogether. I have never experienced such a bumpy ride before in my life, tying myself to the seat seemed to be the best option.

Day 1
Photo of Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Srijani Banerjee
Photo of Chunnambar Boat House, Nonankuppam, Puducherry, India by Srijani Banerjee

Meat mania...

Photo of Cafe Xtasi, Puducherry, India by Srijani Banerjee

Fisherman's wharf...

Photo of Auro Beach, Bommayapalayam, Tamil Nadu, India by Srijani Banerjee
Photo of Dumas Street, White Town, Pondicherry, Puducherry, India by Srijani Banerjee

The first impression of Pondicherry was that of a sleepy little Tamil village with wide roads and lovely houses and a glimpse of sea at the distance. 

The bus stop provides loads of options to stay but we wanted to stay in the French colony come what may as we wanted to be near the beach. A 15 minute walk from the bus stop took us to the French colony where we were informed by every hotel, guest house and hostels that rooms were full. Finally after a lot of walking around we found a guest house with one available room. So the guy decided to fleece us and asked for Rs.3000/ night. After lots of bargaining  we booked the room for 2000 bucks for the entire stay (2 days/1 night). (Arrival of another group also prevented us from dilly dallying ;p). With a roof over our heads and a quick nap we were ready to paint the town red. The guest house owner let us hire an Activa for 250 bucks per day. Even though one can get two wheelers at lesser rent we preferred it because it saved us from walking to the rental area.

First stop was Paradise beach or the Chunnambur Lake house. It was quite an interesting place. Once you reach the Chunnambur Lake house you have to travel by a ferry to the beach. The white sandy beach is beautifully nestled between a lake ( back waters) and the Bay of Bengal.

Photo of Pondicherry: A tale of two cultures #BestOfTravel by Srijani Banerjee

We reached at 12 pm and the Sun God was radiant in all its glory, which reminds me...don't forget your sun screen or sun block. I did and I came back totally toasted.

The ground beneath my feet...slipping away????

Photo of Pondicherry: A tale of two cultures #BestOfTravel by Srijani Banerjee

She walks in beauty!!!

Photo of Pondicherry: A tale of two cultures #BestOfTravel by Srijani Banerjee

Main aur meri tanhai

Photo of Pondicherry: A tale of two cultures #BestOfTravel by Srijani Banerjee

Paradise Beach provides ample opportunity for fun activities, mostly for kids but when you have the beautiful Bay of Bengal beckoning you, anything else hardly seems attractive. The beach is comparatively less crowded than the other two beaches. There are showers and changing rooms on the beach to wash off the remnants of the sea before you leave. We spent quite some time in the sea and finally headed back to the lake house.

From the Chunnambur lake house we went for lunch. If you have read any article related to foodie delight in Pondicherry, you will come across the name of Cafe Xtasi. They serve the best wood and Clay oven prepared pizzas.

The toppings are unique and it is quite pocket friendly. But the wait to get inside is quite long. We waited 45 minutes before getting a table but the food was worth the wait.

After a really late lunch we headed to Auro Beach which someone told us was known as the Serenity beach. It's a common misconception since there is a Serenity beach resort near it. The locals though can't guide you unless you ask for Auro beach. It's some 12 kms from the main city quite close to Auroville. It is best if Auroville and Auro beach are visited together. Saves a lot of time and effort.

The Auro beach is extremely crowded as it houses many beach resorts, guest houses and huts. The sea is quite rough out here and it has the fisherman's wharf.

After spending some time we headed back to our room where my friend decided to sleep for sometime.

The Rocky beach or the Promenade was so near our guest house that I couldn't resist the urge to visit it. It was crowded. That's an understatement actually, it felt like the whole Tamil Nadu had decided to visit the Promenade. It becomes a pedestrian only road in the evening. The promenade is a rocky beach and people are banned from going into the sea. The whole stretch of the beach is well maintained and beautifully landscaped. At one end there is the statue of Jacob Francis Dupleix and at the other end there is the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. The beach houses quite a few interesting things but it was getting difficult to get around in the crowd. So I strolled around in the White colony.

The roads were empty and the houses with their huge walls seemed to hide generations of mystery inside. The street lamps, the doors, the honeysuckle plants climbing along the walls transport one to an extremely serene world. There is a Church right opposite to Joan of Arc. The church of Cappuchins or Notre Dame de Ange's looked like any other church one might come across but the paintings and the colored glass windows were giving it an aura of spirituality. The interior is tastefully designed and the church ground has a lovely statue of Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

Photo of Pondicherry: A tale of two cultures #BestOfTravel by Srijani Banerjee
Photo of Pondicherry: A tale of two cultures #BestOfTravel by Srijani Banerjee

Finally dinner time. We wanted French food and Satsang was the best place to get it but unfortunately it was closed during our trip so we went to Celine's Kitchen. Not the best place for French food ( we actually had Italian) but the ambience is lovely. There are tiny little areas cordoned off with curtains in the garden and there is a huge thatched area. The food was good, nothing to write home about but good. After dinner we called it a night.

This tiny town had so much to offer that its quite difficult to record all the experiences in one post... to know about Day 2 follow the link https://www.tripoto.com/trip/pondicherry-a-tale-of-two-cultures-day-2-5974ba8616926 .

Photo of Auro Beach, Bommayapalayam, Tamil Nadu, India by Srijani Banerjee