How Pondicherry took a piece of my heart away! 

The city of French Villas and Bouganvillas did win over me but not for its beauty and charm this time but for the crazy stories that me and my friends Cannica and Pallavi will narrate to our grand children. The two day trip was a rollercoaster ride of weird twists and turns but at the end of the day it only left us laughing at the mishaps and of course a little bit of skin tan. Pondicherry happened to us in a much clichéd way when all three of us had reached the threshold of our 9 to 5 life pressure. We gave the trip a two weeks window time, meanwhile which we booked our stay and the transport. When we met at the majestic station the Friday night barely did we know that the two days ahead had in their bags for us.

Day 1 – White Town and Promenade Beach 

A comfy overnight journey in the Greenline Bus and we were in Pondy before the crack of the dawn. Here comes the lesson one – bargaining with auto drivers when you are tourists is a waste of time because you will be overcharged anyway. Nine kms away was the beautiful Airbnb property we had booked purely out of impulse, by just looking at the pictures of the beach-side huts by the pristinely blue sea. Well it’s a perfect budget hide out in a natgeo like set up incase you are looking for some insanely tranquil getaway. The cottage overlooks the blue waters of the Auroville Beach situated in remotest corner of the village. Although it’s not safe to hang around by the beach but you can have a gala time sitting in your room staring at the vast sea sipping over your coffee. To help you guys out I have attached the link to the property here. Samprutha Beachside Hut- Ganga Up, Bommapalayam.
It would have been too gutsy of three girls who had only carried the shortest of their outfits from their wardrobe for their much awaited beachside getaway, to stay at such a secluded place. With a heavy heart we cancelled our booking there and headed towards the main city.The obvious lesson no 2- Never rely on an auto drivers to get you to a decent hotel with a liveable room. Our drivers helped us witness the worst hotels existing in the city. After some 7 odd bad hotels we finally rested our tired bums in Hotel Vijayantra. Rented our scooters and headed towards the white town.

The enchanting White Town 

P.S it’s extremely easy to rent bikes in Pondicherry, I neither did I have a licence nor did I knew anything about a scooty except for how to start one. And about traffic rules? Well let’s keep that for some other time. Although I successfully made it back to Bangalore alive without killing anyone 😉 We  rode through the Promenade Beach to the White Town, also famous as the French Colony.  Beautiful eateries, vibrant colours, jaw dropping architecture and lots of Bouganvillas. White Town is the food for a vintage lover’s soul. We sat by the side of the streets whiling away our time, clicking probably thousands of random pictures of the walls, the doors, the cafes, the streets our faces and what not.

Cafe Des Arts

Like every other visitor we clicked our mandatory heavily directed and posed pictures against the quirky yellow walls of Cafe Des Arts. But there was much more to it than just good food and quirky decor. If you are a lover of vintage clothing you will find some lovely dresses in the store tucked in a corner if the cafe. The collection was truly vintage and pretty reasonably priced so you don’t have to worry about your shopping burning a hole in your pockets. 

Delhiwala 6

Delhiwala 6  is that happy emotion that a North Indians feel when they find ‘good’ North Indian food in South India. Quirky decor in a heritage building teamed with Chole bhature, Pav Bhaji; what more an insta-addict could ask from a beachy holiday.

Happy face and happy tummies walked out of Delhiwala-6 knowing not what to do and where to go. So we decided to spend some time by the rock beach and then wander in some random direction. I loved how the Promenade beach has made arrangements for tourists. Every road leading to the beach from the White Town is barricaded at 8 at night. So you only fond pedestrians strolling around the concrete pathway beautifully embedded with palm trees and elegant street lights lighting up the area. 

 

Shopping in Pondicherry

In the evening we stepped out for a ride across the city and stumbled across a lane that was a boulevard of tiny stalls that sold earthen clay artefacts, handmade paper lamps and ceramic items. Colorful lamps put for display lit the streets and we managed to pick some for ourselves too. 

 After a not so happy meal at Dis Dis & Co. the rest of evening was again spent sitting at the sores of the promenade beach watching the ocean crashing against the rocks, listening to the roars of the waves. Someone has very wisely said some experiences can neither be expressed in words nor through pictures. Sitting by the Rock Beach was what made me believe that authenticity of that statement. Summing up, Day 1 was picture perfect till we made our way back home. What followed wasn’t as pleasant an experience but worth sharing. Obviously who wouldn’t be proud of dodging a group of almost 30 drunk men on an empty street at around 12 in the night. 😛 Well! I’d rather keep the story untold but then yeah! I made it alive again 😀

 

The next day greeted us with another set of sweet surprises and shocks which i am gonna tell you on my second blog on Pondicherry. On the next blog I’ll be talking about everything you need to know about Auroville.

Till then keep wandering.

How to leave the tourist in you behind and become a traveller instead 

Over the years how we perceived travelling has evolved dramatically. Read how you can make your trips more worth the while and explore the traveller way

The old school Mountain Railways of Ooty are a sure shot way to Adrenaline-surge

Been wanderlusting lately?

Probably the Nilagiri are the answer to your calling. What could a reckless traveller ask for other than a long weekend after all?

Ooty to Bangalore is what Mecca is to Islam. It is where I fell for the Nilgiris too. And it all happened on the toy train, the Nilgiri Mountain Railways. Now a UNESCO world heritage Nilgiri Mountain Railways first had their 19th-century vintage engines running in 1908. Over a century old, these trains still run on steam engines and issue the old card type tickets. Thanks to UNESCO this will remain unchanged for ages to come.

People use it to get to their work early in the morning, children use these to reach their schools. What is a once in a lifetime experience for many of us is a daily chore for the local commuters out there? The sights at the stations are subtly chaotic all round the year. This experience for a traveller is very exotic in itself as the engines and the track used in this railway are the few last ones remaining in the world.

 In an hour-long trip of 26 KMs from Ooty to Coonoor, these horary  X class locomotives which are is more than 50 years and the oldest more than 80 take you through the spectacular mountains of the Nilgiris through the Mettupalayam Station, Lovedale, Adderley, Hill Grove, Runnymede, Kateri Road, and finally Coonoor Station through 16 tunnels and across 250 bridges. When when you have the luxury of choosing your seats do make sure you pick one on the right side because the view is breathtakingly beautiful and if you are a shutterbug like me, you don’t  want to miss out on that gorgeousness. On your way, you will be witnessing the Western Ghats at their most beautiful self, starting from the grazing lands to the most exotic flora and fauna from the wilderness absolutely untouched by the wrath of tourism. If you are really looking forward to truly experiencing Ooty which itself holds a beautiful history, the toy train rides are strictly a ‘do not miss’.

Prior to 1820s anyone barely knew of Ooty. However, the fabulous tales of the “blue mountains” were in the air. Mr John Sullivan the Founder of British settlement in Udgamandalam was ordered y the authorities of the East India Company to verify the authenticity of the Nilgiris and thus was born the “Queen of the hill stations Ooty” and its whimsical mountain railways.

 A single ride from Ooty to Coonoor pretty much sums up the paradise for you. And trust me I can vouch for the best connection, only if you know what I mean. No wonder this got SRK dancing to the tunes of Chaiyaan Chaiyaan and we still haven’t got over it 🙂