Day 2 :: Cycling tour, Shri Aurobindo Ashram, White Town, Cafe Xtasi, Auroshikha, Shri Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Promenade
Our day started rather early as we decided to explore the town by renting a bicycle and going on a self guided cycling tour. Now, when in South India you just can't begin your day without a hot cup of Filter coffee. The "KBS Kofi Barr" at the Vysial Street is hands down my absolute favourite for filter coffee. It's even better than its other branch at the Promenade, in my opinion. It's a joy to watch filter coffee being made - the aroma of freshly brewed coffee beans, the technique of pouring the coffee to give that right amount of foam on top....ah, just hopeless-filter-coffee-fan things!
We rented a bicycle from Mission Street. There are a number of vendors who provide Bicycles as well as two wheelers at a really cheap price. The bicycles can be rented for full day from morning 7 am to evening 5 pm just for INR 100. YES, BELIEVE IT. Trust me, it's the best way and the cheapest, to explore Pondicherry.
I think this was the best time I had in the entire 3 day trip. Peddaling leisurely through the lanes of Tamil quarter, the white town... watching people pass by, wandering through the lanes, observing the brilliance of Dravidian and French architecture; my morning was sorted.
Another experience that has been etched in my memory from this trip is cycling at the Promenade. The feeling of serenity at this place during morning hours is unmatched. The sun shining bright over blue waters of the Bay of Bengal as far and as wide your eyes can see, the smell of the sea and cycling along the Promenade - it's certainly an experience not to be missed. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the Promenade is open to all kind of vehicles only after 7:30 - 7:45 am, so plan your morning accordingly.
We visited the "Shri Aurobindo Ashram" later during the morning. The Samadhi of Shri Aurobindo is situated here. Thousands of followers, disciples and tourists visit this place every year. People gather around this Samadhi and meditate to pay their respect. No electronics can be used here, in order to maintain the sanctity of this place.
Pondicherry is famous for its handicrafts, incense sticks, decor products, handmade candles, handmade cosmetics such as soaps, perfumes, lotions, essential oils etc. These are manufactured at the Ashram and is available for purchase at various shops. We visited "Auroshikha" right next to the Ashram for the same. It's a perfect place to shop for yourself and dear ones to get the ideal souvenir from Pondicherry.
It was lunch time and my 'foodie-list' prompted me to visit Cafe Xtasi to gorge on their much adored wood fired pizzas. I would just say that the place does live up to its hype and you must consider including it in your list of places to eat when you're here!
When in Pondicherry, do stock up on local snacks such as Murukku - it's a must try! The 'Mysurpa' at Sri Krishna Sweets is one of the must try and must get back home items!
Later, we arrived at the famous Shri Manakula Vinayagar Temple. It is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and the grandeur is worth experiencing. It is also quite well known for the temple elephant 'Lakshmi' who gives blessings to its visitors.
The day ended with a gelato from GMT and enjoying the sound of crashing waves under the moonlight at the Promenade.