A laid-back and serene place, where the efflux of time is slowed quite a bit, buildings reeks of history and every street corner make you meet a motley crowd of people in jocose and where cycle and cycle-rickshaws still find a place in people’s life as a mode of transport – that is Pondicherry for you.
Mind you, what I am talking about is may be 10% of Pondicherry by the beach side the places which were built by French settlers during 1740s – rest of the city is just as rambunctious as it can get typical of any Indian city. Thankfully that 10% is preserved till date without any alterations and walking those cloistered streets metamorphoses you at least 30-40 years back in time.
The best thing to do in Pondicherry is to walk – yes you need to be a peripatetic to enjoy the each and every nuance of Pondicherry – to visually devour it’s vibrant colors, doors, windows and gables of its heritage French and Tamil buildings and also the French streets like Rue Da La Marine, Rue Campagnie etc. It would be any photographers delight to take a promenade along vintage Pondicherry and click away it’s beauty.
The next best thing in Pondicherry is it’s beach. But unfortunately the stupidity of the Government has robbed Pondicherry of a genuine beach experience. In the name of preventing Tsunami tones of boulders are laid on the beaches running kilometers along the shoreline. The boulders are well below the ground level and I don’t think it serves any purpose of preventing any kind of sea erosion let alone a Tsunami, they are not even forming a wall. So the best thing you can do is sit by the sun bathed footpath by the sea or find a nice boulder to sit and relax and listen to the breeze and watch a distant boat sailing into horizon. Even though a genuine beach experience is robbed it’s still a nice place to loaf around and especially if you can hit the beach early in morning to watch sunrise. The whole sea front is covered in a mélange of red and orange and typical of Pondicherry you get to see a motley crowd around, making the whole milieu bubbling with life but still maintaining the trait of tranquility which I feel is the trademark of this place.
If you want a real beach experience and intend to stand by the waves, then you have to travel 15km either towards the North to Auroville beach or down South to Paradise Beach. I went to Auroville Beach and careened myself along the long shores of Auroville awash by the waters of Bay of Bengal. If you are ready to walk a k.m. or so from the beach entrance from the roadside, you can get a pretty calm and pristine beach front. We got a good collection of shells from these undisturbed parts of the beach – including star fish, oyster shells, and snail shells etc.
Apart from a Photographers delight Pondicherry can also boast to be Gourmet’s delight. From Indian to French to Italian you get every rubric of food here. We had a typical Tamil break fast of Pongal, moved for an Authentic Italian Pasta in an Italian restaurant for lunch and then for French Pan cakes with strawberry syrup for snacks. There are quite a few French and Italian restaurants all along the heritage area. Notable among them is the Le Café in the beach front. Head there in the early morning for a French Coffee and Sandwich or cakes. We had a nice French Latte at Le Cafe early in the morning witnessing the day break in eastern horizon.
|From Vibes from Pondicherry|
What to do at Pondicherry?
- Take a heritage walk and enjoy the heritage buildings like Raj Nivas, Legislative Assembly, Aurbindo Ashram and plethora of others. You can cover the entire heritage area in about 3hrs
- Have Google Map in hand, Pondicherry is a small place, with Google Map in hand you can easily walk through the streets
- Try out different options of food
- Hit the beach early in the morning, witness the day break, jog along the footpath through the entire beach [I jogged was 30mts there it was awesome]
- Take lot of pictures if you are a shutter bug
We stayed at Hotel Corbelli in Mission Street, the advantage of this hotel is it’s very near to the beach and heritage area. You can walk down the street and reach heritage walk ways and further down in 10mts you hit the beach.
That is it from Pondicherry. “Give Time a Break”, as they say in Pondicherry Tourism promotions, true to its ad, give Pondicherry a try to escape from hubbub of city life and travel back in time for some serenity and copacetic break.