Travel

Pondicherry: India’s French Connection Ditched by her friends, an intrepid travel blogger gets third time lucky in Pondicherry

@tinachoudhury

PONDICHERRY OR Puducherry is perhaps one of the most precious trips of my life. Why I call it precious is not because it can be reached only by extraordinary roads. I call it precious because I landed in Pondicherry on my third attempt (I had been ditched by friends twice earlier).

Pondicherry: India's French Connection
Every corner of Auroville is something of an architect’s delight and has long attracted idealistic designers eager to experiment with the creative yet vintage. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)

If you are a traveler who doesn’t believe in carrying a list of “do’s and don’ts” or “places to visit” then you have the perfect destination in Pondicherry – a French colony till 1954.

Pondicherry is mainly a city for explorers who don’t have a fixed plan but are armed with a smartphone and good data connection. To get around, all one needs to do is Google “cafes near me”, which in itself is an exciting endeavour. And that is precisely what we did.

The secret passage to happiness, the Serenity Beach, a 20-minute drive to the north of the town. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)
The secret passage to happiness, the Serenity Beach, a 20-minute drive to the north of the town. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)

Pondicherry is easily accessible from Chennai. We had taken an early morning flight from Hyderabad to Chennai (one hour). We rented a cab (Rs 2500-3000) from Chennai airport and headed to the French colonial settlement.

It took us close to four hours to reach our destination – the Serenity Beach, where we booked rooms in a homestay called The Hermit Crab. The residence was a stone’s throw away from the Serenity Beach, tucked away from the hustle-bustle of the city.

 Pondicherry: India's French Connection
There are times when you talk to yourself. Witnessing the sunset at Serenity Beach can be a one such experience of a lifetime. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)

The first destination was Auroville, an experimental community founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, a spiritual leader, on the ideal of human unity based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. It was built as a universal township where people from all over the world could live in harmony.

Golden Globe or Matrimandir, a temple with spherical dome covered in gold discs, is the focal point of Auroville.  A slice of art, a pinch of nostalgia and a lot of peace – this is how I felt about the place. Browsing around the curio shops in the vicinity, one can chance upon interesting souvenirs, gifts and handmade products.

Pondicherry: India's French Connection
The renowned Golden Globe, Mantrimandir in Auroville, is a meditation center and an auditorium. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)

An evening cuppa along with the cinnamon pineapple puff at the coffee shop inside Auroville was a perfect culmination to the evening.

Day 2 started with a craving for a nice English breakfast and that is how we ended up at a very vintage-looking eatery, called Artika Café Gallery. Located in the French Colony, the courtyard resto has pleasant outdoor seatings.

The walls of Akriti cafe wears a vintage look. Here you can spend hours just doing nothing. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)
The walls of Akriti cafe wears a vintage look. Here you can spend hours just doing nothing. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)

French Colony is dotted with restaurants. Walking down the streets of this grey-yellow-white colony, you will discover some amazing café serving awesome French food.

Amongst our discovery, Crepe in Touch topped the list. We went for snacks and ended up spending three hours relaxing. This place has interiors to die for. Subtle and flawless were the keywords, be it food the ambience.

We decided to fly through the air and live in the sunlight and enjoy life as much as we could. So we stopped at this beautiful café called Crepe in Touch and enjoyed the time, food and company as much as we could. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)
We decided to fly through the air and live in the sunlight and enjoy life as much as we could. So we stopped at this beautiful café called Crepe in Touch and enjoyed the time, food and company as much as we could. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)

The best thing about Pondicherry is that all of the places that one needs to wander are kind of accumulated over a walkable stretch. A stroll across the beaches is a must thing to do when you are in Pondy.

 Pondicherry: India's French Connection
The town abounds with secret passages and finding these is are a traveller’s delight. (Photo: Tina Choudhury)

Any journey to Pondicherry is incomplete if one hasn’t set foot on the French bakeries- the more you explore its veins, the more it gets into yours. There is no other thing like wandering that brings you closer to yourself.

COMPLETE PHOTOGALLERY

For more information on Pondicherry travel and stay, click here.

(Tina Choudhury is a Branding and Corporate Communications professional currently working for a Healthcare brand. She’s an avid traveller, social media enthusiast and a blogger by passion.)

–ENDS–

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