05th October to 07th October, 2016.
Driving south from Mahabalipuram, we took the well maintained East Coast Road to Puducherry (Pondicherry). Puducherry is a very famous tourist destination, and we are sure there is little in this article that you don’t already know about. But driving into Puducherry, it is easy to see why it is so popular. Streets lined with beautiful buildings, awesome food, and the ocean nearby. There is very little missing.
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Pondicherry is to simply walk around. Each street will offer something new. Perhaps the sight of a temple and flower market in the shadows of a colonel Portuguese building, perhaps an old church, may be a quaint little bakery, may be the best cup of filter coffee; you will find something for sure.
In one of those walks we ran into Cafe Xtasi, a pizza place. They have a wood fired oven right in front of the restaurant, and you can watch the entire pizza being made right there. And pizza here is delicious. Another dish worth a try is their very juicy pork chops. All in all, it is safe to say, Pondy has a very vibrant food seen. For example, the joint Baker’s street serves authentic french baked goods. We fell so in love with their biscuits that we bought some along for the rest of the trip. These little cookies could lighten our mood whenever needed. If you want a coffee with a view, Le Cafe’ which is right next to the ocean has some excellent baked goodies.
But with all the eating, we did not forget what makes Pondy really special. This whole place revolves around Auroville and the Aurobindo Ashram. Auroville is said to be the nearest humans ever came to Utopia. It is a global commune that experiments ways of living, questioning many assumptions we take for granted. We had but a two days in Pondy. So we rented a scooter and went off to explore this magical place. But this is the thing; Auroville is much more a place to be experienced than seen. The few hours we spent in the sylvan campus does not qualify us in the least to comment on the place. But the green thought and sustainable living practices we witnessed there did leave a deep impression on us. The visit left us curious, and we hope to go back sometime for longer to experience concentrated meditation, organic food, green architecture, and a myriad of other things this place has to offer. That being said, the whole visit was an enriching experience, and we would do it all over again just for the drive to Auroville. Temples, traditional houses, and lotus ponds along the way were in themselves sufficient reason to make the trip. Auroville was very much a bonus.
It is unfair to talk of Pondy and not talk of the ocean. In this place, you are never too far from it. You have a lot of stretches to pick from. The rock face right next to the police headquarters is a good place to sit and chat. But it is in Auroville beach that the sea is really alive. There are sells to be collected and waves to be chased. Also, the beach side shacks sell the best fish.
As we were approaching the end of our trip, we decided to start picking out gifts for everyone back home. We found the Auroville store to be a really good place for this, given their environment friendly selection and adherence to fair trade policies. Gifts aside, though it has been nearly 60 days on the road, we don’t really feel like coming back.