Saturday, August 30, 2008

Give Time a Break: Pondicherry

Giving time a break is what I was exactly doing last weekend, away from the din and congestion of Bangalore, away from this 15-inch screen I glare at for over 15 hours a day, away at this peaceful and passive retreat at the capital city of the eponymous Union Territory, often cited as La Côte d'Azur de l'Est (The French Reviera of the East).



We had been thinking of visit Puducherry from quite some time, but somebody or the other had some work every weekend. Three days of visiting beaches, driving, less-than-four-hours-sleeping, eating at French restaurants, and exploring the laid-back township could sum up the fun-filled tour I could have easily extended for two more days had I been given the choice. Beaches and restaurants were all we could go to. I had wanted to visit a few churches and maybe a museum, but very unlike me, I had not planned at all this time. I had hardly spent half an hour on google, and that too a month prior to the trip.

We went to three beaches. One, the rocky beach besides Goubert Avenue, a great walk very similar to Marine Drive, Mumbai. Two, the peaceful Auroville Beach, with no one there; I had taken my car almost on the beach and it had gotten stuck in the sand. We had planned to be there before sunrise but managed almost 15 minutes later. The water was good and cool, but no one else from our group entered despite my repeated come-on-at-least-taste-the-water yells from within the waves. The third beach was more populous and cleaner, where we had reached through a boat on the Chunnambur backwaters. The resort had scooting and speedboating too, but only two of the four of us could do that because we were short on time and they on scooters (they only had one actually).

We ate at a few French restaurants, about which I'll write another detailed post, but this amazing place called Baker's Street should find a mention here. Everything from the tiles to the furniture, the crockery to the delicacies, the owner to the visitors there was French. [Please refer to an elaborate post on the same: Eatouts in Pondicherry.]

We had stayed at Ginger Hotel the first day, quite a spic-and-spam place with excellent interiors and comfortable rooms. The hotel had free wifi internet and though we initially regretted none of us had brought our laptops, I am now glad none of us took one. The second night we moved to a cheaper Sea Side Guest House on the rocky beach, which was comfortable too, but not as swanky as Ginger. The worst part was that they would not let you after 11:15 pm, so we had to wind up our evening walk short.

The mode of local transportation is autos, who charge heavily. Rs 50 for a 2 km drive to the beach, and Rs 30 is the minimum fare. We learnt that the hard way when the auto we hired from Hotel Mass ran out of gas barely a km away. And the autowaala got hurt when one of us called him a cheater. Next we had to witness a drunk Chaitanya consoling the pony-tailed auto driver for 15 minutes. Quite fun was the following 20-minutes walk at midnight in that unknown place, before another auto skidded menacingly to stop in front of us and charged us 60 for a km of distance. This was the evening we had arrived; the next day we drove to wherever we went.

Driving to and fro was more fun than I had expected, even though I had to do it single-handedly the whole time. A third of the way comprises of NH7, which is an extremely well-built highway with picturesque green hills on the sides. I could consistently drive above 100 on this highway after crossing Hosur, and touched the max of 130 in my Alto. The next two-thirds is NH66, a two-lane undivided road by the countryside, but the traffic is very less and we had to slow down a bit only when we passed certain very small villages. [Please refer to my next post: Bangalore to Pondicherry in an Alto, a detailed one on the route and the drive.]

The aftereffects were very good too. We'd woken up before 5 all three days, and gone to bed not before 12-1. I was so tired that when I came back on Monday and went for an afternoon siesta at 4 pm, I ended up waking up 11 hours later, at 3 in the morning! That was the most undisturbed and satisfying sleep I've had in ages.

Overall a nice place where time actually seems to have taken a break. Do not expect Goa. You won’t find the crowd and the rush and pubs, which are anyways aplenty in Bangalore. An ideal place to spend some lazy lamhe with someone special and enjoy French delicacies. As I repeatedly kept saying while at Pondicherry, I would come here again, on my first outing after my honeymoon.

Related posts:
         Bangalore to Pondicherry in an Alto
         Eatouts in Pondicherry

14 comments:

Amiya Shrivastava said...

I am jealous now!! You gotta see the well built Indian Highways of which I am only dreaming to see and on top of that when I was in India I visited rest of the South India save Punducherry and a few other cities.

I am sure to visit it this time I come there.

Violet said...

Interesting posts should not come up as the first thing on a Monday morning. I have to read it between work and meetings, which means I can't concentrate on either.. anyways.. was expecting this one for long.. and thanks for the much awaited pics.

Roli said...

good... a good trip by you after a long time. The credit goes to your friends or to you? ok, leave that... ;) the conclusion is that you enjoyed.

this post really explain all that you did and make others think that even they should go and visit such cool and great place in India.

try to go for some more trips like this... and then keep us informed about the plces of our India... :)

ashes said...

Amiya:

You are one guy who has an equal interest in highways as me. Come India, and I'll show you India is not as backward as you have started believing in less than a year.

ashes said...

Violet:

Thanks baby. Yeah, even I was expecting this one for long :).

There are more pics at orkut, and even more at picasa.

ashes said...

Roli:

Yeah right, a good trip for me after a very long time. A much needed one too.

Yeah I really enjoyed a lot, and am in for more such trips. Am already planning for the next one.

Indigo said...

That is a very interesting and detailed account of your travel. Good work.

ashes said...

Indigo:

Thanks.

Anadi Misra said...

Kya kahein....fundoo blog...I guess I already stated my opinion, but let me reiterate for the record(Sorry been real busy for the past couple of weeks).

Glad you took the trip..and man, what amazing pics...You tempt me to try Pondicherry next time...Good fotography! Besides, nice new interface for your blog...Reading your blogs in general (chrome etc.) makes me feel that Indians my age are so far technologically advanced in India that I feel like a fumbling old man.

Destination after honeymoon? Where do you want to go on honeymoon?

ashes said...

Anadi:

Thanks.

Well, honeymoon is yet too too far. And I cannot plan it alone, you see :). But I constantly kept missing something at Pondicherry, and therefore thought of coming here again at a later point in life.

Shyam Srinivas K said...

I like to introduce myself as Shyam, Webmaster of www.pondicherry.net.in. I am an IT professional who love my native city, Pondicherry. Over the years I have entertained and helped many visitors to our city. It's been fun. However, one common feedback I have received from many of them has been that there is a lack of structured information about Pondicherry on the web.

So I decided to create a website with all the information that we believe a visitor might want. I realized that as we have lived here for more than two decades and have entertained so many guests, over time I have come up with a list of places that people seem to like. So I threw in a personal touch and came up with a list of places that we think will make you return to our city, and hopefully to this website.

If you have a chance please visit www.pondicherry.net.in

I would be really thankful if you can visit the site and provide me your valuable suggestions and feedbacks about the site.


Thanks and Regards,
Shyam
Email : shyam@pondicherry.net.in
Website : www.pondicherry.net.in

Shatakshi said...

Hey great effort..after reading ur post anybody would want to give time a break in Pondicherry. Have read ur post "Bangalore to Pondicherry in an Alto" as well..its quite informative. Have taken a print out of it as we are travelling to Pondicherry on this 12th.

Loved ur pics too... Do u mind sharing which camera was used?

M sure with all ur effort & info we would reach Pondicherry quite comfortably. Thanks for the amazing stuff :)

ashes said...

Shatakshi:

Thanks for the kind words.

I used a Sony Cybershot T-100 for the trip.

anjali gupta said...

Lovely blog post. Amongst attractions in Pondicherry, some must visit places are the lovely beach front promenade, Auroville, Gingee Fort, Gokilambal Temple and the Government Museum. For accommodation, click here to know about hotels in Pondicherry.

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