Mustard-yellow mansions and bougainvillea facades, calm-inducing ashrams and history-resurrecting museums, sandy feet and sun-kissed skin – this pretty much sums up my weekend at Puducherry.
This February, my brother was scheduled to perform at a Glorious concert in Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry, and now referred to as Pondy). My mum decided that we are going to be a supportive lot, and had us pack our bags for the weekend, to follow my brother’s concert tour (yes, we were his groupies for the weekend).
The union territory of Puducherry is a coastal city in Tamil Nadu, India, and was a French colonial settlement until 1954. While for the most part the city is like any other in South India, the French Colony/White Town area and Auroville are visually captivating in their unique ways, and are areas that one would spend considerable time exploring. And of course, the beaches.
We drove to Pondy from Bangalore (the drive was approximately 6.5 hours), freshened up quickly, had a friend of dad’s take us to a local eatery in the middle of the city , and attended the concert. We spent the night at The Ashok Beach Resort. Yes, it sounds fancy, and it would’ve been, had it not been for the obnoxiously loud and unnecessarily bright concert/music festival that was held in the garden-area of the resort at midnight!
To make up for the disastrous sleep, we woke up at 5.30 AM, and made our way to the beach, which was a minute’s walk from our room, since it was ‘part’ of the resort. The dark circles so gained were worth the view.
We spent the rest of the day as typical tourists. With Google Trips as our tour-guide, we visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, took a stroll down Promenade Road, and spent the afternoon walking around picturesque White Town (French Colony), where we also visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
We feasted on a well-deserved lunch at La Villa, in White Town. I highly recommend the Coconut Prawn Curry, and urge you not to miss the nutty olive-hummus, which is one of the accompaniments to the complimentary bread-basket.
I received my dose of history-fix at the Puducherry Museum, which showcases a variety of historically-relevant artifacts – from sculptures and colonial furniture, to coins and an ancient tree trunk. The entry fee is INR 10, although I do encourage visitors to contribute a bit more, for the upkeep and maintenance of the museum.
We ended our short trip to Pondy with a ferry ride to Paradise Beach. The line for the ferry is long, and the the ticket counter closes at around 4 PM. While the beach was a pretty sight, it was mighty crowded as the area hosts water sports.
Pondy is a tourist’s delight, since it has so much to offer. It has sites and views that cater to each person’s desires. From Auroville that offers spiritual calm, to French cafes and boulevard views, this little city is a gem on South India’s coastline.
Note: This was not a minimal-budget trip. However, one can definitely manage a trip to Puducherry for more than just a weekend, on a tight budget. That’s the beauty of dorms/hostels and the sharing economy.