We decided at a sudden moment and took to Pondicherry – a break from our city life. We took a flight into Chennai and hired a taxi from the airport. There are many options available and normally charge a return fare of approx. Rs 3000 for a 2-hour ride to Pondicherry through the highway-route. Once in Pondicherry, I strongly suggest you ditch the cars and taxi and take to hiring a scooty or a bike to enjoy at your leisure. The rental price ranges between 200-300 per day and you need to fund the fuel.
I strongly recommend you stay at the villas in the French Quarters (it is a very different experience) and for those of you who look for the comfort and hotel-like service, there is no better option than The Promenade as it has the best location.
Pondicherry is famous from the meditation enter at Auroville and we had the top-most on our agenda. You need to ride about 10 kms from the city to reach Auroville and walk about 1 km from the parking spot. When the heat is harsh, it can get tough but once you reach the dome, the sight just blows you away. For those who incline to meditating, you can also book yourself for an early-morning session inside the dome. For the non-meditators, you will not be permitted inside the dome.
The other must-visit spot is the Promenade or the Rock Beach. You can walk the long stretch while you hear the waves and have a nice conversation with people who matter the most. You should reach in time to see the sunset and walk up to Jetty point, as great place for pictures. I recommend having dinner at the Oriental rooftop restaurant at Le Promenade, where you can catch a nice view of the beach and waters with excellent food.
We spent most of our time riding amongst the French Quarters and gorging on divine food and excellent breads - a completely French experience in this area. The streets are named in French as well and the concept of dining within the villas at French Quarters was an experience not easily found in India.
I strongly recommend Carte Blanche, Villa Shanti and The Are Café for some amazing meals. We were giving very good feedback fro Café Rendezvous. however it was closed for renovation (one of my list for the next visit :)). For the bread lovers, you must visit the Baker Street and try their bread savories. And for those with a sweet tooth, you must dig into the sinful desserts and milkshakes are Zuka. Don't miss the chocolate butterflies on the ceiling in their shop.
On the way back, one must take the ECR (Eastern Coastal Roadways) route and we stopped at Mahabalipuram temple for a visit. It is a artistically carved temple by the beach. The breeze was very good, not letting you feel the heat at all. The Mahabalipuram beaches are extremely neat and clean and some resorts have their private beaches as well. This is a bit longer than the highway, but a detour worth it.
Pondicherry is a place for people who want to relax, eat good food and like to walk in a pollution free environment. I am definitely going back to Pondicherry soon :)