My trip to Pondicherry and Auroville was part of a high school pact I made with four, very close friends of mine. After school was over, we agreed upon meeting once a year wherever in the world we were, in order to spend quality time together and catch up on life. Although one of us could not make it, 🙁 this trip is exceptionally close to my heart. It was a roller coaster ride right from the beginning, when we started planning it to bookings and eventually going! It was one filled with oodles of (inside) jokes, laughter, musings, the summer sun and cuddles leading to an indelible journey!
Before I get to telling you about our journey to Pondicherry, I want you to know that the five of us were called “The LG” (Try deciphering it) back in school. Well, we still call ourselves that! So stay tuned for more LG trips, they’re super fun. 🙂
How long does a trip take to plan out until you can actually see yourself going? Two weeks? A month? Well, we took a long two months to decide! What’s interesting about contemplating where to go are the many options you see on India’s map. I usually just open Google Maps and navigate places depending on the budget and mood (although, most times I take a detour to Europe or New Zealand’s maps). They also have an option called ‘Explore’ on the far-right bottom of the page, which is quite interesting especially if you have no idea what exactly you’re looking for. Eventually, after all the research and disagreements, we narrowed down on Pondicherry because we wanted two things – a coast and a place none of us had been. Google Info: “Pondicherry (Puducherry) was a French colonial settlement in India. Its French legacy is preserved in its French Quarter, with tree-lined streets, mustard-coloured colonial villas and chic boutiques.” And what’s exciting is to see the amalgamation of Indian culture with that of the French. How inviting!
It was a super early and super excited start to the morning, hustling to Mumbai’s airport and we almost made it in time. We took a flight from Mumbai to Chennai, and then drove from Chennai to Pondicherry. It’s a safe three-hour drive to Pondy along vast, captivating grasslands filled with yellow wildflowers and a clear blue sky above! It’s the perfect long summer drive with good music and great company. Hints of the sea-face now and then will make you want to get off and catch waves or tan a little.
We were staying at the Sea View Villa on Serenity Beach for the first couple nights. It’s the cutest little blue villa directly connected to the beach owned by a French man named Alex. He was kind enough to tell us a little about the place and a few tips, like renting bicycles for an easier and cheaper commute! The sea was as inviting as ever, so we jumped right in and spent all afternoon sun-bathing. Later that evening, as the sun set over the horizon, we walked around the daily market to rent cycles at the local shops. These cycles were absolute saviours as the distances to be covered were rather absurd, and they were a convenient means of transport whenever we wanted to step out. That night was, to say the least, beautiful! It was a full moon night, and one could hear the sea lashing out and see glittery lights of the city in the distance. What a start to the trip!
The second day, we intended to start early so we could cycle all the way up to Auroville, an experimental township approximately 9 kilometers away (particularly ambitious, and rather unfortunate as you will see further on). Quite obviously we couldn’t actually make it all the way because it was too hot, the secluded roads looked unsafe, but predominantly because of how unfit we were to cycle such a long distance. Ultimately we cycled around town, on the beach and to almost all the coconut vendors we saw! It was the sweetest, most fresh coconut.
In view of the fact that we could not visit Auroville on day two, we spent the entire third day walking around the township. Here, the days are blindingly bright and hot while the nights tend to become humid. The tranquility and serenity of the afternoon will make you feel like taking a siesta on a hammock and oh that feeling! On their website: “The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity in diversity. It is also concerned with sustainable living and the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind.”
This place was filled with positive vibes and a soothing feeling. Of course, your company does matter but I couldn’t stop imagining what it would feel like to travel solo to such a place, oh I wish! We met the most kind and thoughtful visitors. To be very honest with you, I didn’t research as much about Auroville and I absolutely regret it. It’s a shame to just spend one day here. However, we did visit Matrimandir which lies at the centre of the township also known as the Peace Area. One would imagine it to be a temple (mandir) and may avoid it judging it’s name however, it is designed to be a place oblivious to religion and faith. It is built purely for humanity to connect with its inner self. It’s not the typical tourist site, it’s a place for individual silence and peace. Inside it are 12 petal-chambers. From the centre of the meditation chamber runs a single beam of sunlight from the top to the bottom. The calm atmosphere is a way of life that must be experienced.
We missed visiting Savitri Bhavan but I’m aware that it needs to be explored if you’re in Auroville!
For more information – http://www.auroville.org/
This part of our trip was a rather relaxed and easy adventure. I hope you were able to gain a sense of the journey so far however, the best is yet to come! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and are eager to read Part 2 of this series as much as I am to share it with you all! 🙂
- Unless you’re a person like me who prefers travelling during the off season period, I’d suggest you avoid the months of May and June while travelling to Pondy.
- Make sure you rent bicycles for convinient transport only for ₹70/day.
- Get the yummiest tuna sandwich (and more) at ‘What’s Up’ Café – Serenity Beach. It has a sea-view deck!
- Best contemporary American Café – ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ serves delicious milkshakes and great breakfast.
- Are you a Cat lover? Lunch at ‘Right Path Café’ at the Auroville Centre. It is the ideal place for you! Purr