If you’re in Chennai, Pondicherry should be on your to-do list.
A three hour journey from the city, you can board the local MTC bus that starts every half an hour at Madhya Kailash bus stand near Kasturbai Nagar railway station. It also stops at Thiruvanmiyur bus depot before taking off on the road.
The vibrant pink and blue roadside apartments are soon substituted for earthy coloured local as well as french houses that resonate the beauty of the once French Colony.
You also immediately get transported to a foreign land when you see easy-going middle-aged foreigners (now locals) cycling their way through the narrow by-lanes. An occasional yellow Vespa is the only traffic, as it cruises through the French residential areas contrary to the local busy tourist-hounding money-making tamilian zooming past you on a scooterette in the tamil-dominated localities of Pondy.
It is nothing more than a weekend getaway as you will have seen most of the colourful town, by evening the next day.
Apart from the French colony, Pondicherry is also a place for foodies to treat their innermost gastronomical desires. Cafe Xtasi on Mission Street is a must if you like pizzas. The dimly lit pizza place serves an almost 24 inch firewood oven baked pizza along with 60’s music, the crowd starts trickling in by lunch and goes on till late in the night. It’s a great place to be.
Satsanga is another place that one should try. The French restaurant is situated on La Bourdonnais Street in the interiors of the little town. A dimly-lit restaurant, the chandeliers portray a cozy atmosphere for both family as well as friends. I particularly ordered a prawn pasta which was way beyond my expectations and totally did justice to the money paid which came up to a reasonable Rs 500 without alcohol.
Last but not the least, though overrated, Paradise beach, is situated a little away from the mainland and can be accessed by two ways – by ferry and by road, though they are separated by a rope and a watchful lifeguard. The ferry is a better option as it helps to escape the blazing sun by sailing through for 20 minutes before reaching the beach.
The beach is a good place but hospitality is disappointing as you cannot sit around in the shacks if you’re not going to eat anything at their small over-priced counters serving fish. We were immediately told to find some place else even though there was nobody waiting for a seat. It did not happen at one place but in fact two before we decided to walk back to the ferry line.
The best part about Pondicherry is cheap alcohol and the French colony. Alcohol starts at a mere Rs 60 for a beer can and can be guzzled down almost instantly before the heat gets to you.
A two day trip can cost between Rs. 2,500 – Rs 3,000 per person and should definitely be on a traveller’s bucket list in India.
(P.S. – The above opinions and experiences are mine alone and can differ from person to person, do not take it as the law)
Happy travelling! 😀