21 April, 2008

Its time to give a break - Pondicherry

French ruled it for 300 years a 480sq.km. area of Coromandel Coast. I traveled 296Kms from Bangalore, without imagining that I shall enter a completely new world. I thought, I was in India but felt as being in France.

Serene Territory, a definite spot Pondicherry was on my travel map last weekend. Away from the heat and hassle of metro city, Pondicherry was nice option to travel and enjoy the calm waves of Bay of Bengal.

It’s a small city with vast range to explore things. And if one gets bike on rent with a very reasonable price, than the traveling pleasure multiplies. I got on to my rented bike and moved on, into the magical lanes of White built Pondichery where breath taking fragrance of flowers and serenity of air was waiting for me to explore.

First Day:
I got charmed to see French culture so well flourished not only in town planning, road sign boards but also in the restaurants where I enjoyed the French Cuisine delicacy. It’s a unique experience to see the place still have French connection known as “India’s little France” making a difference from rest of India. It’s amazing to see that Pondicherry still have the French touch, where the policemen wear the red kepis preserving the wonderful heritage of French.

Beach is another beautiful attraction at Pondicherry. The Serenity Beach is 1.5 kilometers long. It’s a beautiful site to watch as it is cool and clean. This beach also have a magnificent tall statue of Mahatma Gandhi placed between 8 pillars and a memorial commemorating the soldiers who lost their lives during the World War I. This beach is ideally suited for relaxation.

The Le café Restaurant on the beach just adds the wonder to the convenience to sip the coffee and enjoy the ultimate beauty of the waves of “Bay of Bengal”. This restaurant also helps in arranging the tour trip for Pondicherry. They not only have outstanding staff but also excellent menu. All during my stay in Pondicherry, I thoroughly enjoyed my French breakfast and evening tea in this restaurant.

On the bike cutting the edgy air with the swiftness of speed no distance was far. Firstly , we went 8 kilometers away form Pondicherry towards Cuddalore Main Road to see the Paradise Beach. This is also called “Plage Paradiso”.

It is located at Chunnambar near the mouth of the backwater. Here I was amazed to see proper merging of the back-waters and the beach. One can enjoy the holidays by either boating in backwaters or play making sand mountains on the beach. If one is lucky, one can also see dolphins playing into the sea.

Coming back it was the lunch time, and no chance I wanted to miss to have French food. I wasn’t sure where to head soon there found a French Bakery. I asked on of the person there to suggest us some good French Restaurant. And the reply came “Well, I am the owner of the first French Restaurant of Pondicherry and for the way you can follow me..!” I was simply amazed to know about “Hotel de Pondicherry” have served people for almost a decade and finally I was enjoying the authentic French Cuisine. Also this hotel is also popular for some scenes shooted of the popular movie "Jism"

 The large number of Churches in Pondicherry of 18th and 19th century is yet another legacy left by the French. So my evening spot was to attend the Friday prayer of “Sacred Heart Church.” There is beautiful glass painting depicting the story of Lord Jesus. Large number of people had gathered there to offer prayer and it seemed as if the moment had got still in the aura.

Second Day:

Believe it or not, I woke up early in the morning in the excitement of watching the waves of Bay of Bengal. Walking on the clean beach feeling the pleasant breeze of is a unique experience that I have never experienced before though have seen many beaches.

This morning we went ahead with our plan to visit "the City of Tomorrow". It is located about 10 km north of Pondicherry in the jungle area. There is a calm atmosphere, peace and greenery. It was aimed as a Universal Town, where people from different nationalities, faiths and beliefs could live in peace and harmony and devote in better living and green environment. The experience to be there was universal, a moment of forgetting all the limitations and boundaries and working for the mankind together. They were celebrating this year as their 40th Anniversary. But unfortunately not much progress has been made in last 40 years due to the less support of Govt. But the place has powerful peace and that’s what matters today after all.

We came back Pondicherry city, filled up our stomach with delicious food and went back to our very cozy and homely guest house to have some rest. It’s strange hot humid weather which often makes us feel uneasy to be outside home for a longer duration of time. Accommodation is never a problem at Pondicherry, there are many have many Hotels, resorts and guesthouse. We preferred to stay at “Vatica Guest House”. Such Guest House are cheap and excellent to live in. Its specialty is that it’s a resident house, so one feels very homely staying there with all hygienic properties measured. Above all it is quite close to beach and main market.

So after having a good rest, in the evening we decided to move on to our next destination “Auroville Beach”, where I found a large number of French. For the moment, I felt as if I was not in India. It was simply ideal for a quick dip and then being carried away by the cool breeze. The beach is attended by the Safety Guards which adds up to a very positive picture of the effort made for tourism. But I believe there is still a large scope for improvement and enhancement to be made for the recreation of the tourists. This beach also has some small resorts for the people who want to wake up in the morning go to the beach have a dip come back have a sip of beer again next morning same routine to follows with a picture perfect view of beach.
elieve it or not, I woke up early in the morning in the excitement of watching the waves of Bay of Bengal. Walking on the clean beach feeling the pleasant breeze of is a unique experience that I have never experienced before though have seen many beaches.
Third, the Final day:

It was a final day and a moment to experience the synergic of Pondicherry. We went Lord Ganesh’s “Parikrama Arilmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple” to offer morning prayers. "Lakshmi" was waiting for us to shower her blessings. She was huge but beautiful, wearing silver anklets in her feet. Lakshmi, the “Her-Elephant” comes everyday in the temple and showers her blessings by putting her trunk over the head of the visitors of the temple. But her blessings are not free, she blesses only if you feed her with a bunch of green grass. And we were one of the lucky to receive the blessings from her. It was indeed an amazing moment. I was completely charged up with Lakshmi’s gesture.

So with all those positive charges it was time some more rejuvenate. Yes! Shopping was on my cards next. Pondicherry is a complete shopper’s paradise. Pondicherry is popular for its exquisite traditional handicrafts, excellent quality hand-made paper, hand-woven mats and carpets, perfumed candles, wooden antique furniture and sculptures, semi-precious jewelry, pottery etc. But my fascination there was the fine fabrics on competitive prices which are easily available on the streets of the market and also at various boutiques. Boutiques have their own distinct style and bountiful variety of products.

After empting my pocket in the market my final traveling aim was “Sri Aurobindo Ashram” is a compulsory visit in Pondicherry, without which this trip was incomplete. The world renowned ashram was founded in the year 1926, by Sri Aurobindo and his Mother Mira Alfassa who was a French painter. The ashram attracts people from all over the world. It is the landmark of peace, wisdom and discipline. Everyday people come and meditate in this ashram. The Ashram’s courtyard has memorials of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo under the tree. As part of meditation, the disciples of the Ashram beautify the memorials with the different colorful and fragrant flowers. A very spiritual feeling prevails through the Ashram. It’s a feeling that cannot be expressed in words but surely it’s a mesmerizing magical moment to visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
The light filtering from the hand-made beautiful paper lamp which is embossed with real dry flowers and leaves reminds me the fragrance of white long lanes of city, high tides of Bay of Bengal, steep small sips of coffee at le Café, serene beauty and poised peace with equisetic aroma of French Cuisine.

It’s about “Pondicherry”,
Its time to “give a break”..

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