It was early Saturday morning when the 15 of us clambered on one of the city buses, making ourselves comfortable at the back. Sleepy-eyed ‘selfies’ and plugged headphones only lasted for a couple minutes. Soon enough, we all buzzed with excitement, chattering away on the way to Pondicherry, better known as ‘Pondy.’ This was my international college club’s first out of Chennai outing, and the international students readied their cameras, steadily snapping away at anything fascinating. Two and a half hours later, we arrived at the town of Auroville, our first destination.
From the bus, we hopped straight into our tempo vans, a super convenient mode of transportation within the small town. Auroville is known to be the haven for peace and sanctity. We arrived at the learning center, which showed a brief movie about this town. Soon, we were strolling through a trail, which led to the main attraction of the town: the Matrimandir. Although it takes about 15 minutes to reach the destination, we didn’t seem to notice the time, as the walk is very pleasant, in the serene forest environment. After reaching, you are faced with a massive golden sphere, a grand display, sunlight radiating magnificently against the clear blue skies. We didn’t get to go inside this meditation chamber, which is maintained in utter silence. After a few silly poses and photo sessions, we made our way back down the trail, enjoying the cool breeze, and birds chirping along for company.
After a quick pit stop over for lunch, which was tomato basil pasta and a mango smoothie for me, we traversed back to Pondy, which is a little outside of Auroville. As we were only in Pondy for just one day, we simply enjoyed sightseeing through the windows of our tempo vans, as we made our way to Pondicherry or Promenade beach. On our way, cute little French styled cottages and cafes lined the streets. The Tamil influence is quite evident as well. Colorful Tamil styled houses adorned the streets as well. Street signs in both Tamil and French give an interesting touch to this French colonial town. The Mahatma Gandhi statue stood valiantly in front of Promenade Beach.
You can choose to take a ferry out to the beach or go for a boat ride. We chose the former, and cautiously tip toed our way into the ferry. Pretty much all 15 of us jam packed into the medium sized ferry. Gentle waves rippled through, as the setting sun left a magnificent orange glow in the sky. The beach is actually really clean, filled with many locals and tourists. After throwing my slippers into my duffel, and patting on the sunscreen, I rushed off for a fun game of volleyball.
What started off as just a game between four of us soon expanded into a serious match between 10 people altogether, with the locals joining in. Amused by this game of tossing a ball back and forth over a net, they whacked it just as hard, grinning widely. We cheered them on in our broken Tamil, and they played on, encouraged further. Proved to be tough competition, we did end up beating them though!
Exhausted from all that activity, we soon waded into the cool waters, digging our feet deeper into the sand. A game of collecting the most unique seashells soon erupted. Laughing and splashing around like young kids back in pre-school, the time just flew by. Our short and sweet trip came to an end, as we naturally went into another crazed photo session. Sketching out ‘ISAC,’ the name of our club, into the sand, we left our mark. We would be back again one day…
We spent just a day in Pondy, and yet managed to sightsee and do quite a bit. The main attraction to catch is the Matrimandir in Auroville, though there’s nothing else left to do in that town. Aside from Promenade beach, Pondy has a lot of cute restaurants that I’ve heard of. Although we opted for the tempo van, the less expensive option is strolling through two-wheelers. Pondy is a fun getaway, especially with a small group of friends. Make sure to pack up your sun screen, sunglasses, and sun wear!