(The photographs used are all original)
Where do we get the cheapest alcohol? Yes, right. The answer is Union Territories. Pondicherry not only offers serene beaches but also cheap and varied alcohol. I travelled to Pondicherry during the month of October. We (two of us) booked a night bus (Greenline travels through Redbus- AC Sleeper) and started at 10:00 PM on 29.10.2016 (Saturday). We prefer travelling during the night hours because this not only saves a lot of time but also makes the journey comfortable (less traffic).
We reached Pondicherry by 5:30 AM, which was much before than what we had expected. Unlike the hustle bustle in other cities, this city wakes up only by 8. Not having many options, we decided to meander on the streets and stride till Rock Beach. Also, since the check-ins began at 12:00 PM, we had to look out for a petrol pump to use the restroom. But believe it or not, the exploration part was fun. We walked for a few kilometres and finally reached Rock beach.
Rock Beach: The promenade at the rock beach is beautiful yet hyped. Call it luck or mere coincidence; it was crowded even during the early morning hours. Though the morning breeze did the trick, yet the humidity was sufficient to put one in a black mood.
Next, we headed to the White Town (the French Colony). The yellow houses had a fabulous architecture and it did look like something we see in the movies. But somehow, I felt it was overvalued too. There is nothing much to see there; one can just get a few pictures clicked (that too not in front of the houses as the French people obviously don’t like it). The place is perfect for clicking a picture in a black ravishing dress!
Pondicherry is a small place; one can take a two-wheeler on rent and finish exploring in a day. We did no different. Since this was our first backpacking trip (literally, we only had two backpacks), we rented Activa and went on Pondy-venture with open arms. We went to few churches like Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges and couldn’t help but admire the mint condition of the place.
With the ride ready, we could no longer wait to check out the other beach (Serenity beach) which was 14 km from the main city. Driving Activa was pure bliss! Serenity beach was one of the isolated beaches of Pondicherry. There were many boats there, but less number of people. By less, I mean two to three men at an Omelette stall. We had our breakfast there (the omelette was horrible). We watched the fishermen, enjoyed the cool waves, saw dolphins (yes, really!) and some French women swimming in bikinis. After spending around one hour at Serenity beach, we headed to The Indian Kaffe Express for lunch but didn’t like the menu. Surguru Restaurant seemed the only possible option. But the waiting queue and the rude behaviour of the waiter/waitress drove us up the wall. We ate Dosa and had Lassi (both were not up to par).
Following this, we checked into The Green Palace (our hotel for the stay which was booked via OYO). Yet again, OYO didn’t fail to impress us. With its exemplary service and superb quality of food, room and staff, OYO did not leave any stone unturned in helping us make our trip comfortable. Post check-in, we decided to rest for some time and by the time we were ready for another stroll, it was evening. We decided to hunt for a good eating joint, for even in the morning, the breakfast and the lunch did not satisfy our hunger.
The much talked about Café Xtasi was on our list. After having waited in the queue for one hour, we finally got in and ordered chicken Pizza. Probably, the stars were not in favour of our stomachs and the huge pizza turned out to be a total flop- not only in terms of taste but money too. It was then that we realized the worth of 1000 bucks!
Disgruntled with the progress of the day, we went back to Rock beach and covered the whole length on foot. That marked the end of our first day. Tired and sleepy, we reached our hotel by 10:00 PM.
Our second day was filled with adventure, for we had decided to go to Paradise beach and Auroville. Our first stop was Auroville. The ride (Activa) was smooth and the experience was good. There is a 1km stretch that connects the Auroville information centre to the main Auroville meditation hall. It is a shady path and can be covered on foot. No vehicles are allowed. There is a gate pass that is issued after the visitors are made to watch a 15 min video (that tells about the origin of Auroville and its history).
The pass is issued free of cost. One cannot enter the main Auroville globe until one has taken prior permission. The visitors are only permitted to walk up to the viewpoint from where they can click pictures and enjoy the scene.
It took us 1 and a half hour to finish exploring Auroville and then we headed to Channumber boathouse. This boathouse is situated on the banks of the Channumber backwaters and connects to Paradise beach via ferry service. The management is terrible there. We had to wait for 2 hours for our turn to get into the ferry and reach Paradise. The rates are as follows:
Paradise beach: This beach ticked all the right boxes. With clean blue waves crashing on the whitish sand, this beach was the one! We felt a different kind of happiness when we faced the Bay of Bengal.
It was so inviting. We had to enjoy the waves and we did so. But, the odds were still not in favour of our stomachs and all we could find to eat was Rice and Cauliflower (now, who eats that?). At 5:00 in the evening, we drove back to our hotel (not to forget, we ate chips and other junk on our way back). We rested for a while and then the hunt for a place to eat dinner began again. Not being able to reach any conclusion, we ended up eating at A2B. The North Indian Thali was something we had been craving for.
It was time to pack our things as our Greenline was scheduled for departure at 10:30 PM. But not even once did we feel that it was a short trip. Pondicherry can be easily covered in two days. But if one wants to enjoy the humid air and the moderate currents of Bay of Bengal, one can always extend the stay.
I hope this information comes in handy.
One liner for the trip: Pondicherry is not up to scratch; the place to too puffed up! Nevertheless, it was a trip to remember.
“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”
― Wendell Berry, A Place on Earth