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Pondicherry
The French Riviera of the East
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I had been waiting to travel to Pondicherry or "The French Riviera of the East” as it is called, for the lovely beaches, cobblestone streets, French architecture and of course the good food and wine! The opportunity presented itself when a few colleagues of mine decided to go there for a short trip to recharge during the weekend. Pondicherry is ideal for rest, relaxation and culture as opposed to the bustling nightlife and water sports, for which Goa would be a better option.

We decided to start out trip by making a visit to Sri Aurobindo Ashram which was established in 1926. This was the ideal place for some meditation & reflection and it was a wonderful way to begin our relaxing weekend.  In the afternoon, we continued on to explore the French Quarters with its wide boulevards and distinctive architecture with buildings painted in cream, yellow, pink and white. Many of the homes here have been converted into boutiques and restaurants, so we leisurely walked around and had some amazing food.

We had reserved an entire day for Auroville, the universal township started by Mirra Alfassa (or “The Mother” as she is fondly referred to), a spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo.  Auroville is home to more than 2000 people from 35 different countries and is meant as a place to realise human unity in diversity. We rented some bicycles to explore the various zones and of course to visit the Matrimandir - a concrete globe of astounding dimensions, located in the centre of Auroville.  The Matramandir just radiated peace and serenity and the crystal ball located in the centre (which glowed with a single ray of sunlight that was directed on it) left us absolutely spell bound.

Although a lot of Pondicherry’s beaches have been lost due to coastal erosion, we made sure to visit Paradise beach which is located along the Pondicherry – Cuddalore highway. This still remains as a nice getaway with the backwaters on one side and the sea on the other. Access to this beach was through a boat ride from the Chunnambar boat house.  We made sure to carry some beach towels and a picnic hamper as there aren’t too many options for food. 

(Note - The boat house operates from 9 am to 6 pm. Going to the beach via the boat is not recommended for senior citizens as accessibility can prove to be a bit of a challenge.)

Pondicherry is also a shopper’s paradise, with numerous boutiques, markets and shops. Some of the items that the place is famous for is Aromatherapy candles and oils, incense sticks, handicrafts, handmade paper, pottery and leather items.  As we were there during the weekend, we explored the Sunday market (open from 8 am to 10 pm) that turned MG Road into a lively, vibrant open air bazaar.

Before we headed back home we went to the Manakula Vinayagar temple that we had heard so much about. This temple is highly revered by the locals and we were lucky enough to get blessed by Lakshmi, the temple elephant.

The accommodation options in Pondicherry include quaint city centre boutique hotels, as well as lovely resorts with their own beach fronts.. Just let Hammock know what takes your fancy and we will book it for you.



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