In the last couple of months, I have been hopping from place to place, snapping pictures and experiencing different cultures. In December, I visited Goa and Gokarna and even posted about my trip on my blog with a help of more than a dozen pictures and the response I got was unbelievable. I think coastal towns have grown on me as I was quite happy to go to Pondicherry.
One of the first things I noticed was that the weather was so much better than other coastal towns. It wasn't balmy at all! It was like Bangalore with a harsher sun. I absolutely hate the balmy weather so this was like a dream destination to me.
We were on the road all day and finally reached Pondicherry around late evening. I, for one, was ready to head out to get a feel of the city. After freshening up a bit, we took off for the Promenade. The roads of the town were quite small and maneuvering a large car through them was extremely stressful for our drivers as they were more afraid of scratches than of accidentally running someone over.
The Promenade is a long walkaway along the sea. It was lit up really bright that night, with fairy lights everywhere as Republic Day was two days away.
Clearly they like to go all out for Republic Day!
My cousin didn't like these pictures but I loved the way the light turned up on camera so I had to upload them. The whole area was crowded with tourists and street vendors and little kids running between our legs. There were cafes along the coast as well but they were all jam packed as this is usually the time of the year when they have the most number of tourists. We did come back here during the day time before we left, but personally, I feel like it has a lot more charm at night.
One of the craziest experiences was the one we had at dinner. We went to a little cafe called Cafe Xtasi and ordered their large pizza as the menu said it would feed 4-5 people. What we didn't expect was it to be pretty much as big as our table!
Although the pizza was really good, I could only handle about one and a half slices.
The next day we decided to visit Auroville. I'm sure you know what Auroville is. It's well known around the world and people visit all year round. Auroville means City of Dawn and was founded with a purpose to realise human unity. It is a spiritual centre that does not discriminate based on religion, race, caste, etc. It has it's own little township that is about eighteen kilometers away from Pondicherry city and is surrounded by forests. The thing I loved most about Auroville is that it reminded me so much of my school. The school I studied in was situated in the middle of a forest as well, and we walked through it to go to the art centre (known as the Art Village) or the Study Centre where we discussed various aspects of life. Being back in that environment made me return to my roots a bit. It's that sort of serenity that brings you closer to the Earth and everything you believe in without feeling the need to voice your opinions on the more touchy subjects of life. I don't know if that made sense but that's just how I look at it.
Apart from that, I like the fact that Auroville does not promote any particular religion. Ever since I began to think for myself and realised that I was an athiest, nothing annoyed me more than being told what to believe in or being told to do something in the name of God or religion. I prefer to be spiritual than religious. If you're like me, you will enjoy your time at Auroville too.
The first part of Auroville we visited was the boutique.
The building was very Earthy and open and even had a tiny amphitheater and cafeteria in there. Of course, I bought a bunch of things in the store. A few of those things will be included in a giveaway I'm planning to do shortly, so stay tuned for that.
Since the main attraction is the Matrimandir, our next stop was in that direction. There is a bus facility but we decided to walk to the Matrimandir since it was only a kilometer away. It took us more than fifteen minutes because I stopped every two steps to take pictures of Mother Nature all around us.
|[The extent of my dad's photography skills can be seen in this picture]|
The Matrimandir or "The Mother" looks like a golden globe. The outside is made up of brass plates. On the inside, there's a ramp that goes along the walls of the globe up to the main chamber. The main chamber is surrounded by pillars and in the centre is a crystal ball with a single beam of natural light falling into it. It is supposed to symbolise some sort of connection between the Earth or humanity and the Universe. Some people say that it symbolises future realisation. The beauty of spirituality is that you can make what you want of it without there being a need for debate or argument.
I couldn't get a picture of the crystal ball as I didn't go inside this time but google has some good pictures if you want to see what it looks like.
Once again, we decided to walk back to the main area, taking pictures the whole way.
|He was really shy! When he realised that I was taking pictures of him, he ran like the wind!|
Since a lot of designer clothes are made in India, we get a lot of them in the street shops for less than ten percent of the store price (so you can imagine how much it actually takes to produce one garment and the amount of profit the company makes). Some pieces are deemed "defective" as they have a thread sticking out or a small stain on the inside, and these are rejected by the brand. They are sold by the manufacturers at a nominal wholesale price and are sold by the buyers at a slight profit. A lot of hunting and bargaining is involved in the process of added these clothes to your closet! For instance, I purchased a Tommy Hilfiger dress for 200 rupees when it usually retails for around 2000 - 3000 rupees in stores. It has the official tag on it too.
The shopping area was called Mission Road and it was very similar to the Brigade Road/Commercial Street area of Bangalore but with a lot more street shops.
I'll probably do a whole other post on everything I bought as this is starting to get a bit lengthy. There's still a bit more to go so hang in there!
On Monday, which was Republic Day, we were set to return home but we decided to leave a bit late. In the morning we went to the French Quarter of the city as I was dying to see it. Google said it was a recreation of Bourbon Street of New Orleans in Pondicherry. This area was occupied by the French around the same time that the British were ruling the rest of India, so the architecture is a bit similar to that in New Orleans (that's what I gathered from the pictures I saw on Google). It almost feels like an international city the moment you enter it. Everything is cleaner and the pavements and buildings are a bit different. It still holds the old world charm, even though it had received a fresh coat of paint in the recent years.
|The French Consulate was the main attraction!|
The French Consulate is right next to the Promenade, which is very empty during the day! I don't know how we missed this part when we walked along the coast on our first night there.
There are a lot of little cafes along the Promenade but my main interest was the architecture and the basic layout of the French Quarter.
|I posted this one on Instagram as well. It is my favourite shot from my trip.|
Seems like an overload of pictures but I didn't have the heart to cut any of them out of the post. I also did a travelgram/travel diary on Instagram to catalogue my holiday. I hope to make this a regular thing as I have several other holidays planned for 2015. If you do take a look at my feed, please let me know what you think of it. I'm always open to feedback.
At the end I felt like two and half days was too short a holiday! There is so much I haven't seen in Pondicherry and I hope to visit again soon. I wanted to visit a pottery school and an art village as I am an art student of sorts, and several popular French churches and even the war memorial. Hopefully, I will get to go again soon and put up a continuation to this post.
I would be thrilled if you took the time to leave me a comment, letting me know if you liked reading this post and/or looking through my pictures. I hope this puts Pondicherry on your wander-list!
Stay tuned to my blog for an upcoming giveaway including a couple of products I purchased in Pondicherry and some other stuff too. Also, if you want a constant insight into my life and my take on the places I visit, this is the place to be!
Until next time!
Which city is on top of you wander-list for 2015?