Back in 2016 our girl gang wanted to go on a holiday together so we all decided, planned and shortlisted places in India to travel so here we were in Pondicherry which is now known as Pudducherry and fondly referred to as Pondy.
Pondicherry, a quaint little French corner of India is a sneak peak to the French culture in reference to the food, architecture and the locals around. It is a cute little place and a destination which can be explored at leisure in 3 to 4 days of time span in a pocket friendly way. So we were on our way to Pondy during the last weekend of 2017 to loosen ourselves and have the time of our lives.
Before we take you along our Pondy experience through this blog we would love to share a detour to this ancient monumental site dating back to the 7th and the 8th century which is popularly known as Mahabalipuram and one of the famous complexes of Mahabalipuram is the Shore Temple. Shore Temple as the name suggests is an ancient temple of Lord Shiva by the shore that is the Bay of Bengal. We recommend you to surely go to visit this ancient town as it is on the way to Pondy by road from Chennai and you will not have to put your extra time in travelling to this place.
Bellas Suggestions:- Visiting Mahabalipuram for sunrise early in the morning is a good and positive start to the morning and trip as a whole. The road that leads to Mahabalipuram is well constructed so going by road will be a joyful ride. But you will not find any food or tea stalls on the way so please keep some snacks or beverages handy for the road trip.
From Chennai airport we reached Mahabalipuram in an approximate time of one and a half hour.
P.S… A minimal amount of entry fee is to be paid for the ticket.
₹10 per person for Indians
$5 or ₹250 for foreign nationals.
THE TEMPLE PREMISES AT MAHABALIPURAM
IF YOU WISH TO CHECKOUT A SHORT ITINERARY OF PONDICHERRY AND HOW TO REACH, PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO THE END OF THIS BLOG.
Day 1: Arriving at Pondy and evening stroll at the Rock Beach
As we reached the little town of Pondy we checked into our hotel, Abirami Residency and as all the girls were exhausted as we had taken an early morning flight from Mumbai, our gang decided to have a light meal in the hotel itself. After taking a little rest in the hotel we went on our first and foremost expedition to the white town of Pondy being Aurobindo Ashram.
- Sri Aurobindo Ashram
[8am-12pm and 12pm-6pm]
Sri Aurobindo Ashram located in Pondy is a community of Sri Aurobindo’s disciples. It is a very peaceful and serene place to visit and one can just sit by themselves and feel the positive energy in the ashram by spending a couple of hours there. Disciples from all over the world visit this Ashram. The ashram is very well maintained by the disciples which you will realise as you enter because you will see a garden full of different types of colourful flowers and green leaves. There is a book shop in the Ashram if you want to buy books on Spirituality.
Bellas Suggestions:- Please wear comfortable footwear which is easily removable as you will be entering the ashram barefoot and keeping the footwear at the counter.
After visiting the Aurobindo Ashram we took a stroll on the Rock Beach which runs parallel to the little white french town of Pondy.
2) Rock Beach
Pondy’s very own Marine Drive. The promenade is usually a decorated street but as we visited on the 26th of January, the place was lit with tricolour lights and there were dance and other programs going on and the place had happening vibes of a small fair. We spent a good 1 to 2 hours hanging out with our girl gang breathing in the salty breezy air of Bay of Bengal.
After the Beach we headed onto our first dinner at this amazing place called Dilliwala 6. After the dinner we walked back to our hotel to burn out some calories and crashed on our beds happily.
DAY 2- Morning session Auroville, Lunch at la cafe; Evening at Serenity Beach, dinner at Farm Fresh.
We started our day with our complimentary breakfast. The plan for the morning session of the Day 2 was to visit Auroville which was approximately at a distance of around 10-15 kms from our hotel. As suggested by the locals we took an auto rickshaw to Auroville which were easily accessible from our hotel.
[Monday – Friday : 9.30 am -12.30 pm & 1pm – 4 pm]
No entry charges
As we entered Auroville, we saw a documentary on the construction and the history of Mantri Mandir which is worth watching as it describes the scientific and spiritual importance and benefits of meditation.
Bellas Suggestions:- If you want to meditate and visit inside the Mantri Mandir, please coordinate with the staff at Auroville to make prior arrangements for the same.
After watching the documentary we headed through the muddy paths of Auroville to visit the Mantri Mandir. On our way to reach the Mantri Mandir we had a little stop at a huge Banyan tree which happened to be a good photo stop for our gang. It is better to have a morning visit to Auroville and wrap up by afternoon to avoid crowd. You can buy some famous baked products at Auroville which are made in their in-house bakery but the food items, textiles and hand made products are a little heavy on the pocket so it is advisable to have your shopping spree at Pondy. After visiting Auroville we headed back to this cafe named Le Cafe at Rock Beach, White town. We ought to mention that our expectations of this place came crashing down like an avalanche as we had the most disappointing lunch of our lives.
After the disappointing lunch we headed back to the hotel and in the evening to explore another beach , The Serenity Beach.
Bellas Suggestions:- We wanted to go to see the sunset but as it was cloudy we couldn’t get to experience the sunset for which Serenity beach is famous although the orange tinted sky was worth the visit. After the sunset the security guards will try to vacate the place so go reasonably before the sunset to spend some equality time.
For our dinner we had plans to visit Le Pasta which we had researched to be as one of the best Pasta serving joints in Pondy but their hospitality and priority towards Indians was a blow to us Indians. To know more about our experience, click on Le Pasta
But as they say “Gods plans are the best plans” because we found the most delicious and mouth lurking Pizzas and Pasta’s at New Farm Fresh.
After the sumptuous dinner we walked back to our hotel and concluded our day 2.
THE PREMISES OF AUROVILLE
DAY 3:- Cycling our way through the pretty streets of Pondy
On day 3 after having a leisure breakfast at the hotel we went on to the local bicycle rent shop on the Mission Street to rent out our bicycles for the day.
Bellas Suggestions:- As we were late and reached around 11ish it was tiresome and little waste of time for us because of the non-availability of the adequate number of bicycles required for our girl gang as all the bicycles get rented out early in the morning between 8am to 9am. If anyone of you want to rent out two wheelers it is readily available at shops on Mission Street. As you rent the bicycles one need to deposit photo Id proofs which will be returned on submitting back the cycles.
Cost of renting on bicycle per day is between ₹100 to ₹200 depending on the quality and type of cycle.
4) Botanical Garden
[9am – 7pm]
If you are a flora enthusiast then this place is heaven for you. This garden is in existence since the French colonial era. The garden is filled with species of local flowers origination from Tamil Nadu. The garden displays floral structures of cartoon characters (minions being our favourite) and animals which will attract the kids. The garden also has a toy train ride, the ticket for which is ₹100 per head. Also it has a nursery section from where you can buy and take home saplings of your favourite flowers. The entry to the botanical garden is ₹20 making it an economical option.
After the Botanical garden we headed straight to this very famous cafe of Pondi, Cafe De Arts but as our gang was hungry AF we did not want to wait for 1.5 hours to get our table so we were back on our bicycles in search of new restaurant/ Cafe on the streets of Pondy to satisfy our hunger pangs.
As destiny would have it we discovered this very tiny little cafe in a corner which would be one of our best food experiences of Pondy at Canteen 18.
After a satisfying late lunch (as we were searching for a good place to eat) we had reserved our evening slot to visit the beautiful churches made with intricate French architectural influences. As the three famous churches of Pondy are at a considerable distance from each other and we being on our cycles thought evening would be a pleasant time to witness the beauty of these churches.
5) Immaculate Conception Cathedral :-
6) Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus :-
7) Notre Dame :-
Bellas Suggestions:- As we chose the evening slot for visiting cathedrals of Pondy we were lucky to experience and attend the evening mass. So it would be ideal to visit these churches between 7pm to 8pm because the beauty of the churches is enhanced by the lightings during this time.
8) Aayi Mandapa (White monument) :-
We took a short stop at Aayi Mandapam which we randomly came across on our way back to the hotel. It was very well lit in the evening and can qualify as a good photo stop. The place is very calm, breezy and well maintained.
After a little shopping from some random local shop we went to deposit our cycles (to avoid extra charges deposit the bicycles by 8pm) and headed to the hotel and treated ourselves with dominoes pizza’s in our cozy rooms itself and crashed onto our beds to prepare ourselves for the last day of our trip.
Day 4 :- Check-out from the hotel, Paradise beach & Bird Sanctuary (Outseri lake)
After having our last breakfast in Pondy we checked out of Abirami Residency and headed straight to Paradise beach.
9) Paradise Beach
This beach is situated south of Pondy and is separate from the main land so to reach the shore you will have to take a ferry to this beach which is like Pondy’s own little island. For all those beach bums it makes a perfect place to take a dip in the waves and get yourself those tanned lines. You will be taken aback by the scenic beauty of the greenish blue water, coconut trees and the white sandy shore. You can spend a leisure time soaking under the sun with your loved ones as there is no time limit to sink in the beauty.
After all the pizzas and Pastas for straight three days, we wanted to binge on some Indian food at some random Indian restaurant before heading to Outseri Lake which apparently was a bird sanctuary. The road leading to Outseri was not very well paved and it was all the more heartbreaking to not be able to spot a single bird which was against our expectations.
Bellas Suggestions:- You can totally skip this place and save on some time chilling and getting some retail therapy. We had some spare time on our hands so we went back to Pondy to tickle our shopping buds.
This is like a one stop shop in the white town selling some very amazing hand made souvenirs like diaries, pens, coasters, fridge magnets, gift articles, fragrances, essential oils, beauty products, incense sticks and handbags. The best part about this place is that it sells products made by local women and hence shopping from here is an encouragement to their art and skills. Also the products are very reasonably prices so it will not burn a hole in your pockets.
Bellas Suggestions:- Do shop for a wide range of fragrances, essential oils and beauty products that are organic and natural which will soothe your mind and soul. Some of the products we purchased and recommend :
- Handmade diaries
- Fridge magnets
- Incense sticks- Vanilla, Lemon grass, Lavender
- Body mists- Opium, Lavender
- Essential oils- Eucalyptus, Mint
After getting done with the shopping we headed back to Chennai Airport which took us around 3.5 to 4 hours drive from Pondy and near the airport we had an authentic South Indian dinner at Sarvanna Bhavan.
We were back to Bay with some fond Pondy memories and experiences to share it with the world. We would love to hear your experiences and how this itinerary helped you to enhance your experience and make it a memorable trip for you.
Climate and Atmosphere :
The four days that we spent at Pondy in the month of January, we experienced a little bit of drizzling and also bright sunny days with temperatures around 30 degrees celsius. You can experience a little humidity in the air all round the day as Pondy is situated in the coastal area of South India. If you wish to keep wind cheaters or umbrellas handy, you can do so as per your convenience.
45 mins- 1 hour
No time limit
3 hrs- 4 hrs
No time limit
All three churches
1 hr- 2 hrs
3 hrs- 4hrs
No time limit
Overall budget (per person in INR)
Drop taxi service
Food expense of places we visited
Bicycles on hire
P.S this cost does not include personal expenses like shopping and the cost is subject to change as per your spending pattern.
HOW TO REACH PONDY ?
Air Tickets : We booked online air tickets from Bombay to Chennai 2 months prior to our travel date and the ticket costed us approximately ₹5000 for return journey back to Bombay through Musafir.com
You can get good deals on other websites as well if you plan in advance.
Taxi on Hire : From Chennai airport to Pondy and from Pondy to Chennai airport we booked online taxi for our drops and pick ups through Chennai based Drop in taxi service Dropintaxi.com This taxi service is pretty reasonable, safe and reliable. If you wish to wait on your way they provide waiting service on hourly basis at minimal extra cost. It costed us approximately ₹3000 for one way with waiting charges at Mahabalipuram for 2 hours and as we were seven of us it costed around ₹400 per head for one way.
Also we took 2 autorickshaws at a rate of ₹400 per auto that accommodated 4 passengers in each auto with waiting charges for about 3 hours at Auroville.
Bellas Suggestions:- As our hotel was well connected to all modes of transport and situated within the city we opted to take autos likewise you can alternatively hop into local bus service as well.
On our way back to hotel from Serenity beach we took a Bus ride which was one short, economically viable and crazy bus journey which costed us ₹4 per head.
Within the city you will have a sparse network of Ola cabs with very few cars in operation so it is not a reliable source of transport in Pondy.
Cars and two wheelers are not allowed for maximum time of the day in the white town so you can take Cycle rickshaws to move around which are on a little expensive side but will help you commute easily if you don’t want to walk or cycle around.
All said and done, Pondy can be best explore by taking strolls around the city, exploring the narrow alleys of white town and also riding a bicycle.