In this busy workaholic lifestyle, ever wondered how to plan a holiday and not request your boss for too many leaves? How to plan a trip on a short holiday? This is a dilemma we all face, but the solution is simple – plan your trips on long weekends!
And this is a tried and tested plan.
So for one such long weekend, a trip to Pondicherry was planned. Pondicherry or Puducherry as it is known today.
Pondicherry, nicknamed “Paris of the East”, was a French colony much before it was liberated in 1954, and is a Union Territory of India. Pondicherry is easily accessible from the East Coast via Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu or by air and rail.
And the journey begins…
To travel is to take your journey into yourself – Danny Kaye
Every journey, irrespective of the duration, has introduced me to various people. Some ended up being acquaintances while some ended up in close friendships. I have been fortunate enough to have friends in almost every state of my Incredible India. This also proves helpful when I am on budget trips and need a place to stay for a short while. Having friends who are locals also helped as they proved to be the best guides around the new place. So meet my closest friends, a TamBram (Tamil Brahmin) couple – Mr. and Mrs. Mahadevan.
This trip was planned by my girlfriend Fiona and myself over a Diwali vacation. We wanted to get out of Mumbai, away from the noise and pollution, and to have a good holiday. Air travel to Pondicherry was expensive. Hence, to curb unnecessary cost, we decide to travel to Chennai, spend a day there, and then drive down to Pondicherry.
While in Chennai, we visited the famous Marina Beach – one of the world’s longest beaches. Being beach bums, we were enthralled seeing the sun, sand and water.
The seashore was beautiful and so was the weather. Swimming is restricted in Marina Beach. The ill effects of commercialization can be seen in parts of the beach where there is garbage and pollution. But we owe thanks to many voluntary organisations who have taken up the task of cleaning Marina beach and protecting the ecosystem.
Since Chennai is another metro city that has fallen prey to never ending jam packed traffic, we did not get a chance to see much of the city. However, due to the holiday season, we got to meet many more friends of the Mahadevans and hear many wonderful stories of Tamil Nadu! We were also given a surprise by our hosts – a drive to Pondicherry to witness the most beautiful route!
This three hour drive was very smooth thanks to the roads (BMC can take a tip or two from the Tamil Nadu government on building roads). This was also a very scenic drive where there was greenery on one side and the sea on the other, and the road was through an archway of trees!
We enjoyed the drive and before we knew it, we reached our destination. We had a quick lunch of authentic South Indian thali at Surguru Restaurant and then head to our homestay – Swades.
Swades is a homestay run by a couple – Mr and Mrs Ilyas Sheikh. While they live on the ground floor, the rest of the 2 floors consist of small rooms with attached bathrooms, a common kitchen, meeting / dining area, and a terrace on both the floors.
I recommend a stay here. The rooms are not only brightly decorated, but are cosy as well. This place is centrally located in White Town and pocket friendly too! The area is very safe and the century-old places of worship, the markets, beach and restaurants are just a few blocks away. Bikes are easily available on rent too. Geared as well as non-geared two-wheeler cost around Rs.350 per day.