Pondicherry - French Riviera of the East

The Promenade
The Promendae
This time, all we were looking for some fresh place, some offbeat destination, far from the usual favorites Goa and Kerala, we finalized to explore Pondicherry (Puducherry). More commonly referred as Pondy, a French colonial settlement in India until 1954 which is now a Union Territory town bounded by Tamil Nadu state. The best part is that French legacy is still preserved in its French Quarters, The White Town which reflects the French Architecture, mustard/orange colored villas, boutiques and French food.

I was lucky enough to grab a great deal on flight tickets for three of us, my wife, son and myself. Booked tickets Delhi - Chennai to and fro for early February, two months in advance. Days passed in excitement and research of all good places to visit, planning all itinerary. As always, wife did all the packing with her surprising super skills and took care of everything. And no, I didn't forget my camera this time.

Finally, the day arrived and we booked Uber for our early morning flight to Chennai. It was still dark outside as we boarded our taxi, but three of us were pretty much awake in excitement. Roads were empty and within 20 minutes, we reached the airport. Check-in was smooth and soon we were on-board. Did the usual social check-ins on Facebook and Instagram, posted few pics to make sure others are jealous and soon we were flying high enough. After few minutes, everyone started to doze off until the usual sales promotion begin. Tried to ignore as much, but they ensured everyone listens. Pretty irritating though but Air Hostess was beautiful so made peace with it. After an hour, had Breakfast and soon we landed in Chennai around 10am.

We already pre-booked a taxi to take us to Pondicherry to cover the distance of 150 kms (3 hrs approx). The guy was late and language barrier was an issue as I kept calling him to get the update of his whereabouts. Finally he showed up after 20 minutes and we were on our way through ECR road (East Coast Road). It was February and damn hot that we even ditched our plan to stop at Mahabalipuram for an hour. We continued our journey to Pondy without much stoppages except for grabbing refreshments.

We booked two hotels in Pondicherry, two nights within the city and other hotel for two nights as well right outside the city near Paradise beach. Our first stay was in the city hotel, we reached there during lunch time and already tired, we jumped into the Pool as soon as we checked-in to our room. After an hour, we felt refreshed and tired at the same time. Grabbed quick lunch and crashed in our room. 

We woke up around 6pm and got ready to visit the city, look at the architecture. Preferred most trusted Autos to take us around all they suggested were temples and churches. We took their advice and covered two temples and a Church in same evening (I can't even recall when did I visit a temple last time in Delhi). Not that I am an atheist, but temples are not what I came here for. At least we enjoyed looking at their typical South Indian kind of architecture and then we called it off and enjoyed Authentic South Indian dishes in a typical South Indian restaurant and we left only when our stomachs screamed 'Enough'.

We hired an Auto and reached back to our hotel and crashed while watching Shin Chan in Tamil (my son's favorite), though we didn't understand a word, but at least my son was happy watching it.

Next morning, we woke up all charged up and had nice Buffet breakfast and then carried on to explore the French Town. We went to Aurbindo Ashram and it was so quiet and peaceful. Our son who is opposite of what the place was, couldn't keep his calmness and led few people towards us who suggested that we should leave. Well, that's what happens when you have a 4 year old kid and moreover, not a wise choice to take him there. Well, at least we grabbed attention of many there and left as soon as we could.

Our next stop was Promenade, which runs along the Bay of Bengal and passes several statues, including a 4m-high Gandhi Memorial. This is the rocky beach where you just walk along, enjoy the views, the breeze and relax. We did some photoshoot, and left for the White Town. We explored the streets as we walked and clicked around to take those beautiful memories back with us. Tried French cuisine and the wood oven Pizza.

It was 4 in the evening and we came back to our hotel and relaxed only to wake up at 8 in the night. Still exhausted, we stepped out of the hotel and went to an authentic South Indian Restaurant to get typical experience of South India where we were asked to remove our footwear, were served on a  Banana leaf, when we asked for a spoon and people around us looked at us with astonishment, well different kind of experience I must say. We came back to our hotel, watched Shin Chan in Tamil again and went to sleep.

Next day, the thought of going to an actual Sand beach made us pretty excited. We had our breakfast in the hotel, packed our bags and booked a cab towards our second hotel, which was situated outskirts of Pondicherry and was just 25 minutes away. We reached our second hotel before the check-in time and after keeping our stuff, we headed for the beach which was 2 minutes walk away. Paradise beach is a tourist destination, but our part of the beach was the other side and was untouched and very less tourists. We enjoyed the beach, drenched and soaked our souls until sun went harsh on us. We came back and enjoyed rest of the day in our resort, had dinner in the night and looked at stars in peace before dozing off.

Morning was refreshing, the breeze from the sea nearby felt rejuvenating. We got ready for our breakfast and my son loved it as he saw 7 different kind of Donuts in kid's zone. He wanted to have all, but gave up after three while we cherished our platters. With our tummies filled, we went to the beach and relaxed, clicked pictures gave best poses for our next DPs. We didn't want to head back to hotel but again the sun decided to be harsh on us and to avoid any sunburns, we came back and enjoyed in hotels' pool for a while. After lunch, we relaxed in the noon while watching a typical bollywood movie and munching snacks.

Evening was pretty chilly as we walked along the beach and soon the winds made us return to our hotel. We sat in the resort, looked at stars played music and had some deep talks, enjoyed dinner and went to sleep.

This was the day we had to leave to head back to Delhi, our home. We woke up and packed our stuff, got ready and had Breakfast. We felt low as we didn't want to return and little we knew that there is an adventure waiting for us before our trip ends.

We had booked our taxi in advance for 12pm to catch our flight at 5pm, but the driver came 45 minutes late and as soon as we started our journey, in next one hour his car broke down and we were stranded on highway with no network, no help as driver left us with his car and went to seek help. We waited for almost 30 minutes and kept calling driver and he kept saying 5 minutes every-time and never turned up. We were positive that we will miss our flight when wife suggested to ask any ongoing cab. I tried to stop few cabs but none of them were ready to go. One cab stopped and tried to assist and he stood along and helped us stop a private car heading towards Chennai. He explained them the situation in his local language and the couple in the car agreed to drop us. That time I realized that there are still good people in this world. They did drop us to Chennai well in time and we were able to catch our flight, thanks to them.

We reached back to Delhi and rested on our familiar bed, thinking about the adventurous day we had and what a beautiful trip we had.

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