Travel

3 days trip to Pondicherry

My trip to Pondicherry was due for long. I had these deep subconscious longings to visit this city since a long time. I teach post grad students and deliver sessions on data science and business analytics to the different colleges and universities of Mumbai. The workload is overwhelming. My soul was longing for a break, from all the hustles of the city, from all the work assignments and I decided to choose Pondicherry, currently known as Puducherry as my destination for a solo trip.

Pondicherry was ruled by Portuguese, Dutch, English and the French but the French rulers have rule Pondicherry for the longest time. In 1673, Bellanger, a French officer, took up residence in the Danish Lodge in Puducherry and the French Period of Puducherry began. In 1674 Francois Martin, the first Governor, started to build Puducherry and transformed it from a small fishing village into a flourishing port-town.

Arrival to Pondicherry (Day 1)

I had taken a flight from Mumbai to Chennai, I could not find a direct flight to Pondicherry from Mumbai which was convenient as most of the direct flights were hopping and would take long as 12 to 13 hours long to reach Pondicherry. This was the most convenient option to go via Chennai. 

From Chennai , you can take a direct bus(Red Bus) to Pondicherry too, but I booked a cab from the airport, it was expensive, but the journey was comfortable and safe.

 Place of stay La-Cedille

I had initially planned a trip for only 2 days and had booked a French heritage house at the white town Pondicherry for 2 days. I had done some research and had decided that White town will be the best place for my stay during this trip. I had done the booking a couple of weeks before and had received confirmation from the authorities. It was a beautiful old French Heritage house called “La Cedille”  at the heart of Pondicherry only 5 minutes distant from the Promenade beach or the rock beach.

Like all the French architecture, this house had a wooden main gate followed by a courtyard, filled with green plants. The house has majestic doors and large windows. I booked a large double room, I love the space and the antique furniture and decor in the room, especially the bathroom which was huge and royal. I was craving balcony and terrace, so if you are in love with the sky or love to peep your head through the window, you should book the superior room with adjoining terrace.

Rock beach

This is a beautiful beach completely justifying the name “Rock beach”, French name, ‘Plage de la Promenade’ in the white town, Pondicherry. The beach is rocky, and the waves keep crashing to the rocks during high tide. There are beach guards who inform you when the sea is not safe. There are tiny food stalls on the beautiful road adjacent to the beach selling fresh fruits and onion samosas which you will love. There is a War memorial at the end of the beach stretch with the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. The war memorial is dedicated to the martyrs of France and India who died for their country during the first world war. The 60 years old piers which were constructed on the rock beach during the French colonial rule were destroyed by storm in 2022.

Lunch at the SPOT

Located just adjacent to the Promenade beach in White town, this restaurant attracts both local and foreign tourists and offers a wide array of French, local Pondicherry and fusion dishes. I had simple chicken curry and rice. The chicken curry was a specialty of Pondicherry cooked in coconut milk along with vegetables like moringa and potatoes. Loved every bit of the curry.

Dinner at the new Banana Cafe

This is beautiful rooftop cafe selling French style food by chef Senthil. I had a local friend recommending this place and I had gone there for dinner. Took a Auto rickshaw from the La Cedille. It was light drizzling the ambiance was great, light music and delicious food. I ordered a chicken roast with a salad on the side and a coffee. The food was really great here, French crepes, galette, Au gratin you can check here.

Day 2
Visit to Auroville

Auroville is a visionary township built by Shri Rishi Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa who is popularly known as mother. In 1914 she visited Pondicherry with her husband to meet Shri Aurobindo and accepted him as her mentor. Though during 1914, she had to leave India due to the outbreak of first world war, during 1920 she visited Pondicherry again, never to leave again. In 1968 she founded the project Auroville which is a township hosting member of more than 35 countries. Auroville is based on sustainable living, spiritual development and social growth. It hosts a community who works towards building a world full of harmony and peace without the constraints of religion, political beliefs and monitory status.

The Auroville has a meditation center which is a Golden spere emerging from the earth symbolizing new consciousness called Matri mandir. You need to book online for visiting the Matri-mandir inner chamber. At least 1 week before you need to book. Viewing the Matri-mandir externally is available at any time from the viewing point at Auroville. You can book for the inner chamber at https://mmaccess.auroville.org.in/visitors/new

If you visit Auroville, you should definitely visit the bakery here. I loved the gluten free bakes especially chocolate cakes, cookies available here. There are numerous shops selling local jewelries, soaps, candles, incense sticks which you can carry as a token of remembrance or gifts.

Lunch at Auroville bakery

I ordered a plate of steaming hot chicken memos. These were huge too filling. I could finish only half plate, the rest I packed. I also ordered a cold coffee and gluten free almond flour chocolate cake. I highly recommend this. It was too fabulous.

Visit to Aurobindo Ashram

Your quest for spiritual upliftment will be incomplete, if you don’t visit the Aurobindo Ashram. The Ashram is a community of people who are interested in spiritual growth and sustainable living.  There is a library rich with books written by Rishi Aurobindo and the mother and other authors imparting knowledge on various aspects of self-development. All the Ashram buildings are green buildings which save CO2 emissions and minimize water consumptions. I was so overwhelmed when a group of school children from Andhra wanted to know my name and whereabouts in front of Aurobindo Ashram , who had come to take a tour of the same from their school and wanted to click a photo with me, they gave me a celebrity treatment. Really grateful.

Pondy marina Beach

In the evening, I went to this Pondy marina beach with a local cab driver. Do visit the beach and the adjoining marine park. The beach is serene peaceful and stunning in beauty. You will love sitting on the beach admiring the beauty of nature, with waves lashing at you, drenching your clothes in salt water, while a local fisher woman cooks fresh catch prawn fry for you.

Day 3
INTACH tour of Tamil and French town

During the second world war, many Indian soldiers joined the French army to serve France and many of them are given the citizenship of France. Many of the Indian families have moved to France and they have huge French style homes in Pondicherry. In the city of Pondicherry, now called Puducherry, there are separate Tamil and French townships, showcasing both the architecture of the corresponding community.

I had taken a tour by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) who had provided me with a knowledgeable guide who gave me a city tour giving insights into the lifestyle of both the communities dwelling here. I am grateful to my Guide Vetri who explained in detail the insights into both the different types of architecture. I also took a tour of the local market selling fishes and vegetables. I also offered my prayers to a local temple.

Lady of Angels church

Goubert Market

Creole cuisine dinner at HomeChef Pushpa’s residence

Owing to my passion for local flavors and love for cooking I registered online for a local creole cuisine class followed by dinner. Anita De Canaga who is an entrepreneur, running an online store selling Arti crafts promoting local artisans and sustainability, is supporting her mom Pushpa De Canaga to continue spreading her knowledge about Creole cuisine, which she had learnt from her mother-in-law and Anita’s Grandmother  Silouveyammal. She went to Vietnam and Cambodia and stayed for 40 years, and all her children were born in Vietnam and Cambodia. Anita said that her grandmother used to cook with the local produce all vegetables produced in her garden and the birds like, turkey pigeons and hens were farmed at home. Anita’s mother learnt all the dishes from Silouveyammal. After Anita came back to Pondicherry in 2008, 8 years ago, around 2015, started doing food popup dining events at home with her mom homechef Pushpa, to keep the tradition alive and to prevent the Pondicherry cuisine from perishing.

We cooked beetroot and egg salad followed by Fish Assad in the main course and payasam made with coconut milk and boiled moong dal as dessert.  The food served on banana leaves and the conversation which flowed was memorable. The place is a must visit if you love local food. I am really grateful for the love and hospitality showed by her family. 

Overall Pondicherry touched my heart, and I am planning to visit again sometimes. The city felt familiar, I felt welcomed, the gorgeous foamy sea waves, the black rocky sea beaches, the delicious food and the people are all simple yet wonderful. I feel Pondicherry is a must visit at least once during your lifetime. 

https://pondicherrytourism.co.in/3-days-pondicherry-top-places-to-visit

https://www.akhilamaram.com/pondicherry-3days-itinerary/

Aboutindrani

Indrani Sen is a teacher,lecturer in Information Technology/Computer Science for the past 12 years. She has authored 4 text books in Information Technology.
She is passionate about cooking and loves to blog about food and travel.This blog is like my baby as I have built it from scratch by myself with little help from colleagues ,friends and of course Google.

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