Sunday, June 6, 2010

Beach Blues—Pondicherry!!

A trip to this coastal destination was long overdue; however, it is definitely better late than never. This quaint little union territory has more to offer than just Auroville and Aurobindo Ashram. The Colonial designs of bright yellow and brick red bungalows and bakeries at every street-corner still reflect its very “French” past. However it would be unfair to say that only the bungalows and ‘oven fresh bakes’ serve as a flashback to its French heritage, I must also mention the roads and markets with stylish French nomenclatures that add to the aura and manage to keep up the city’s image. To add to all this, Pondicherry is now the hub of all aspiring artists and modern painters, who find their inspiration in the heart of this city. The bustling intelligentsia with the rich cultural mix of writers, artists and spiritual soul seekers define the spirit of Pondicherry.

Our journey started along the picturesque ECR- the ‘oh so wonderful’ East Coast Road that connects Chennai to Pondicherry. During the short journey of two hours, you will be graced by the presence of the deep blue sea running parallel to the road—an experience worth preserving for a long time! Through speckled stretches of coconut and palm trees, and the vast blue at a distance, the East Coast road connected us quickly to Pondicherry. I was struggling to keep my camera away for even a minute, as I would inevitably find something interesting to capture in every 5 seconds. For North Indian travelers, who are so used to the six lanes of Delhi -Rajasthan, the ECR might seem a little shy in breadth, however, the well maintained smooth highway makes up for it through the amazing scenery on both sides.

We reached Pondicherry a little after sunset, and passing through the twinkling church lights and lavish gardens, we finally reached our Resort. Set right across the beach, The Promenade made our stay memorable with great Coastal delicacies and candle-lit dinners on the sea view patio; not to mention the Ayurvedic spa and in-room relaxing massage facilities.

The next day started with a very heavy breakfast—thank God for the great mango season, we got to taste some very unique French recipes inspired by delicious mangoes. Our first destination after this was the famous boat club of Pondicherry. Promoted specially by Pondicherry tourism, this place offers you boat rides through a stretch of backwater leading up to an Island beach—the famous Paradise beach! Needless to say, both the island beach and the boat ride lived up to my expectations. The fifteen minutes boat ride across the backwater-ish stretch leads up to a beautifully secluded island with a vast beach spotted with dwarf palms. There are shacks offering all sorts of coastal delicacies including the Spicy Fish 65!!

What I will remember most about this place are the small cafes stringing the sea-view road near the impressive Dupleix statue. These small cafes have balconies overlooking the ocean thwarted by a huge rocky landscape. We stepped inside one of these quaint cafes….Everything about it was just perfect- the Italian Ice-cream, the sea breeze and the rough splashing reverberation of the water just across the street. I could sit on that balcony for hours just looking at the sea and stuffing myself with the amazing munchies. A perfect afternoon led to a perfect sunset along the horizon, and as the twinkling lights lit up the streets of Pondicherry we walked back along the stretch of the sea, back to our hotel.

This is a perfect spot to laze around I realize now! There is no hurry of going to one tourist attraction after another, it’s just a matter of prioritizing your fine senses—what attracts you more? The sea, the food, or the long walks- it is just a matter of choice. Pondicherry boasts of some great culinary masterpieces tailor-made especially for sea food lovers, I simply loved the improvised prawn cocktails and amazing desserts! Maybe someday when I am in a mood to go nowhere, I’ll crash here and spend days and weekends discovering each new French cafĂ©, and visiting every art house in the city!

Till then … Au Revoir Pondicherry!

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