I hope you all enjoyed reading the first part of this blog, and I wonder if it was helpful at all. My family and friends had some really kind words to say, but I would love to know what you all thought of it. Do express your opinions, whether they’re good or bad, in the comments below. It’ll be beneficial for me if I have to improve on execution!
Unfortunately (or fortunately), this was the day we had to check out of our little blue villa by the sea to explore the city life of Pondicherry. All packed up, we wondered where we could catch breakfast before hitting the road to the city; until we came across a cute café called Motorcycle Diaries, right at the end of the lane from our villa, by the East Coast Road (ECR). It’s a quirky, fun and cozy café that serves some delicious smoothies and shakes, which go perfectly with the typical, all-American breakfast. We then took a rickshaw to our next accommodation- the Aadhaar Guest House, in the heart of Pondicherry City. We were overwhelmed by the view from our room; it faced the Pondicherry Harbour, with the lighthouse in the distance. The Bay of Bengal looked crystal-clear under the beaming sunlight. Also, we had a balcony! Balconies are a temptation; I could sit there all through the day and the night, by myself, just taking in the view! However, we had a lot to see in the city in just three days, which put us on our toes from the very first day.
Our host at the accommodation gave us a map of the whole city. Every sight, restaurant and café was precisely located and perfectly categorised under particular colours. We noted the places we wanted to see for our three-day sojourn, and narrowed down two locations to visit for that day alone. Immediately after we decided, we walked to the ‘Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus’, situated on the south boulevard of the city. Believe it or not, this was the first time I was visiting a church, so I was very excited to see the cultural differences. It’s an oriental example of gothic design. The interiors are decorated with rare recoloured glass panels, each narrating events from the life of Jesus Christ in the form of paintings, drawings and sketches. Kneeling down on that church pew, the silence spoke loudest to me, and within seconds I saw myself shedding tears; at that moment, it was just my soul and I. It’s amazing how much the things we take for granted do for us in return. Yet, in all that stillness, the uncontrolled mind talks to you.
With the sanctity of the church still hovering above us like a cloud, we leisurely strolled around town until we found ourselves on Promenade Beach. Promenade Beach is the famous stretch of the beachfront along the Bay of Bengal. It’s all very pleasant and windy, but honestly, it’s not a big deal if you give it a miss.
WHITE TOWN DAY! I was looking forward to this day ever since we decided on the itinerary. However crowded and ‘touristy’ this part of town is, it’s the most inviting. Luckily, it wasn’t very crowded. Just strolling around White Town is so calming and serene. We saw some astounding architecture in the form of churches, temples, government buildings and statues. To name a few, the Pondicherry Museum, Pondicherry Library, Consulate General of France, Raj Nivas (a government building), Botanical Garden (Aayi Mandapam), Notre Dame Church, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the famous Promenade Hotel. We also visited the prominent Aurobindo Ashram, and out of all the lovely settings we saw, I absolutely loved this beautifully preserved place. I still treasure the feeling of sitting amidst the massive garden of flowers, each one emitting a positive vibe of its own. Flower Power! Recollecting the immense happiness I experienced after visiting the church on Day 4 and the ashram on this day, I am so thankful for those magical moments!
Since we visited almost all the sights on Day 5, we were looking for things to do on the last day of our trip to Pondy. Browsing through the map that our host presented to us, we came across a tiny island on the east coast of the Union Territory further down south called ‘Paradise Beach Island.’ We jumped at the idea, as it was an island! It’s a forty-minute ride to the jetty and a twenty-minute boat ride to the island itself. As soon as we stepped foot on the boat deck, we stood dumbfounded at the sight that met our eyes. How did such a place even exist on the Indian Subcontinent? A clear blue sky above, a cerulean blue sea, crystal shinning sand and only ten people! Wow. Just one look at each other, and we ran swift into the sea, plunging with excitement. The only thing this small island lacked were the food shacks and cafés that were abundant on the mainland. If one decides to spend the whole day there, it’s inconvenient unless you carry a picnic basket (which sounds rather fun). We returned to our cosy room and stayed in until dusk.
A lot of people we interacted with on our journey so far suggested we walked along Mission Street for a rather local vibe and atmosphere, so we did. It was peak hour when we got there, which made us feel like taking a U-turn. We made an impromptu visit to a tattoo studio, only to check the rates. Yes, you guessed right. After a lot of convincing, pleading and thinking, we decided to get small tattoos! Primarily because we were marking our first trip together as part of our pact. It was such a spontaneous decision that I didn’t get the time to give thought to it, or design it myself. But the traveller in me wanted the typical bird tattoo. So, I got a tattoo of three tiny birds in full flight on my right-hand wrist. One may think that it’s clichéd, but I think tattoos are very personal and, therefore, a personal choice. However overdone a design may be, each person has a different interpretation and understanding of it, which makes it unique in its own way. My explanation behind this bird tattoo suggests the need to go places, a free spirit and wanting a consistent change or assortment of life; living without excessive restraints or obligations.
Before dawn broke, we left for Chennai Airport to return to our respective homes. Looking back on our journey as friends, as a support system, and this beautiful trip to Pondicherry, I realised their worth. In life, we meet numerous people, all different from each other and only a few stay with you till the end; these are my few. I lived with them for five years, and of course we had our fair share of ups and downs. But, we’ve come a long way, and this relationship is meant to be. No matter where I am in the world, who I’m with, what I’m doing or how many more people I meet; I love and cherish my equation with them and always think of what they would think or do or say. These are my girls and I am proud of them.
YUP! Dedicated my first travel story to these four beautiful girls and our friendship! Here’s to many more LG trips and inside jokes.
Hope you all enjoyed reading my Pondicherry & Auroville travel story, and in its course figured out the person I am. I await your comments and opinions. Stay tuned for my next post!
- Motorcycle Diaries is an expensive café. Incase you do consider going, flood your wallet!
- Pondicherry has inefficient Uber services. I’d suggest you take a Rickshaw for long distance commute.
- If you don’t enjoy walking on Promenade Beach, visit Le Café, munch on fries and take in the wind.
- Blueline at The Promenade Hotel is a luxury, fine dining restaurant. It is perfect for a candle light dinner date!
- For a more economical meal, eat at the New Farm Fresh Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant (close to the Museum).