I visited Pondicherry, after spending three blissful days in Auroville in June’15. I was looking forward to relaxing and soaking in this beautiful town during my two days.
Here are a few of my recommendations that could help you further plan your trip:
- Stay and Visit – The best decision of my trip was to stay at the Aurobindo Ashram guest house. Even though, they are simple with basic amenities, the promenade view offered by this guest house beats any other accommodation. It comes with the added advantage of visiting the Samadhi from 5 am -11 pm and one can even be a part of the evening group meditations if staying at any of these guest houses. However, if you are visiting Pondy for leisure – Le Dupleix, La Closerie and Palais De Mahe are a few worth visiting Hotels to stay or eat at , in the French quarters.
- Quiet and Peaceful time at the Ashram – My primary reason to visit Pondy and Auroville were for the Shri Aurobindo ashram and the Mother. My days began at the Samadhi and ended with the group mediations in the evenings. This had to be my best spent time across the two days. Photography is prohibited and phones need to be switched off while visiting the Samadhi. I further explored Pondy by visiting a few centres of the Ashram – the Paper Factory being my favourite.
- Morning by the promenade – The Pondy promenade is the Marine Drive of Mumbai sans the cars and traffic. The traffic here in the evening is that of only humans. Best time to visit the promenade is during sunrise and for early morning walks. The view is breathtaking and makes for a refreshing start to the day.
- Walk, Cycle and Click! – The French quarter of Pondicherry is best explored on foot. If you are a lover of doors, windows, pop up colors – French architecture will not disappoint you. It is categorised by colonial villas, compound walls and stately doors with the bougainvillea flowers and trees adding to their charm.
- Spend time at the beaches – Serenity beach which is about 8-10 kms from Pondy is a must visit and one can spend some alone time and enjoy the calmness of this beach. Paradise beach which is farther away came highly recommended but I sadly did not have enough time to visit it.
- Visiting the Church and Temples – A trip for me is incomplete without visiting its religious centres. I cycled around and visited the two most beautiful churches – Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception Immaculate Church. Both the churches have elegant architecture and provide a sense of calmness. Get blessed by Lakshmi, the Temple Elephant at the Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple. Mornings are the best time to visit this temple and enjoy the hustle bustle of this area.
- The Tamil quarters – The French quarters are the most talked about and photographed area in Pondy. A little deep into the town, you will find yourself amidst chaos and a sudden shift in the setting of the city. The distinctive architecture – open courtyards, verandas and sitting platforms make for a welcoming change. The Maison Perumal property pays a great tribute to this way of life.
- Cafe Hopping – Pondy is a foodie’s paradise. I had gone with a huge list of cafes and places to eat at and here are some of my favourites: Cafe Des Arts for most relaxed time and best crepes and coffees, Satsanga for a quiet and wholesome meal, Villa Shanti for the best desserts, Rendezvous and Hotel Promenade for an evening meal. Bakers’ cafe for a scrumptious breakfast, Palais De Mahe for a relaxing lunch and Kasha Ki Asha for a healthy meal with a boutique to shop at.
- Shopping and Boutiques – Pondy has some wonderful and slightly expensive boutiques. Kalki, Auro Shri, Habitart and are a few of my favourites. La Maison Rose also has some very unique and designer boutiques. I did succumb and pick up my share of paper lamps, jewellery and pottery products.
- A relaxing massage – I spent the last afternoon getting a traditional ayurvedic massage. I honestly went without too many expectations but returned more than satisfied. I would suggest adding one of these in your trips for a great holiday experience. Palais de Mahe has a brilliant in-house massage centre.
These are some of my reasons as to why Pondy and Auroville were one of my favourite trips this year and I hope to visit them again.