I spent a little over 2 days in Pondicherry and the place seems to have grown on me. A quaint, tiny beach town that doesn’t offer you too much in terms of an adrenaline filled holiday was the perfect break I was looking for that weekend in 2016. We ate, walked, ate a little more, explored the history the town had to offer, and of course, ate some more- it was almost perfect for that first vacation we took together as a new couple.
The beauty of Pondicherry lies in its simplicity- Don’t go looking for nightlife and beaches you can party at. Public transport will be a pain, but it’s not difficult to figure things out if you can talk to a bunch of people. Language is a barrier, but talk, get around. And don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the slow paced life and the delicious food the cafes have to offer.
Here’s what the 2 days in Pondicherry looked like for us:
Day 1 :
9:30am — Chennai Airport to Pondicherry
Language was a problem. We managed to figure out that going to the bus stand in Chennai from the airport would be a waste of time since the bus station was further inside the city, and the bus would be crossing the airport on it’s way to Pondicherry (which means you’ve wasted around 3 hours traveling in Chennai itself.) We had the option of catching the bus from the Highway too, but there was a high possibility of the seats being occupied. Keeping all this in mind we opted for a cab instead. The going rates are around Rs. 3500–4000. We bargained a little bit, made some local contacts and managed to get a deal at Rs.2800 (all inclusive)
The journey to Pondicherry took us 4 hours, keeping in account a pit stop of 40 minutes for some idli-wadas-dosa and another 15 minutes for some coconut water.
1:30pm — Check into French Quarter, Pondicherry
French Quarter is where I’d suggest you look for accommodation. It’s beautiful, serene, green, clean, quiet, and you can hire a cycle (70 bucks a day) or a bike (250 bucks a day) and roam around the neighbourhood. Plus most of the places you want to visit are situated right at the French Quarter.
4:00pm — Out and About!
We got out for a quick meal, walked a little at the Promenade, rode down to Serenity Beach & enjoyed a quiet 20minutes on the rocks, got back to French Quarter for dinner and wrapped up by 11:00pm.
Places here open early (I love it!) Expect to wind up by 10pm, and be up at sunrise!
10:15am — Out and About!
We checked out the museum and rode around the by-lanes, figuring out directions, routes and the geography of the place. The French colony is neatly arranged with everything aligned at right angles. We couldn’t get the hang of it till the end, but that’s the fun of it 😊
11:15am — Off to Auroville!
A bike ride to Auroville took us 25 minutes. Before we started the tour, we thought of spending some time at the local cafe at the start (Dinesh Cafe) A veg biryani (70 bucks) is enough for a complete meal for two. We opted for watermelon juice (50 bucks a glass) while we sat under the trees on that hot summer afternoon, observing garden lizards in their natural habitat, discussing snakes and monitor lizards and insects that lived in the jungles of Auroville.
Tip — try the Aparajita juice. It’s a juice made out of a flower, and is pretty popular in Auroville.
Auroville failed to fascinate me as we drove around the village on our bikes. The concept of getting lost in the lanes that lead to the tiny settlements in this sustainable village did little to excite me. The Visitor’s Center was a sigh of relief, but I could not make myself too comfortable here either.
5:30pm — Off to Pondicherry
After spending 6 hours at Auroville, I was glad to get out. Mostly because not doing anything is not my style. We spent an hour at Svaram too, a place where musical instruments you probably wouldn’t have heard of in your life are made. We made a pit-stop for some coffee and cake, and headed back to home sweet home in Pondicherry.
9:30pm — Dinner
A man played a violin while we enjoy a rainy night sitting at our table by the French window in Le Duplex. It was a perfect date night.
8:45am — Breakfast
10:00am — Out and About
We decided to visit the bus stand in Pondicherry since we were scheduled to leave that evening. One visit had us confused and apprehensive. Language will be a problem again
After confirming from multiple sources we reached the conclusion that taking a bus back at 4:15pm would make us reach Gyundi in Chennai at 8:15pm, just in time for our flight.
We spent the day visiting churches and drinking, and finished it off with a very memorable lunch.
4:15pm — Depart for Chennai
We weren’t too sure about the AC bus timings, and people weren’t helpful either. We decided to hop on to a non-ac Puducherry Transport bus, and it really wasn’t that bad 😊
The rickshaw fare from Gyundi to the airport is around 350 odd bucks, we managed to walk a little and get someone who agreed to drop us off for only 100 bucks 😊
8:30pm — Chennai Airport
And we made it on time! And ended up enjoying a fabulous Tamil Nadu Thali at the airport.