Pondicherry Trip

#1 Nov 14th, 2014, 15:17
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Although I have been thinking about sharing my travel experiences for long, however the part of writing a composition has kept me off. I am more of an extrovert who always favors talking over writing. Anyways getting back to my Pondicherry experiences. This has been a long tour covering Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry and Bangalore. I will however just cover my Pondicherry experience here given this is the first time I am trying to blog as such( All my write ups have been either official mails or Facebook status at max). One very important thing about my travel plan is that they have to be a leisure trip with lots of food. I never try to push to visit all the places at one day and over exhaust myself, and have sometimes even avoided few if necessary, but can never ever compensate over food. All my travel postcards therefore would definitely have some food pics in them.
Now if everyone has not yet been bored and left already then here is the trip report:
11th August 2014: To Pondicherry From Mahablipuram.
Our plan was to check out from the hotel in mahablipuram at 9 in the morning take a cab or auto and reach the nearest bus station to board our bus for Pondicherry. As always I did look up on Google and found that the best way(less time and expense) to travel to Pondicherry form Mahabalipuram was by bus. Still did inquire in the reception of our Mahablipuram Hotel about the bus station. It was made clear that there is a bus station and an auto can take us there. All seemed fine and as per plan, Yahoo. I even showed my chivalry for the perfect planning to my better half (given opportunities like these are scarce and one should never let go off if available, at least I don’t ). So we checked out from the hotel at 9 a.m. and took an auto (arranged by the hotel) for the bus station. It was then that we learned that the station we are going is actually a bus stop on the highway. The buses come directly from Chennai and most of the time they are full. My chivalry as usual then left me . We had two big rucksacks and two cabin bags and were not at all in any position to travel in a crowded bus for hours. Alternatively we searched for cabs which would cost us somewhere between 2000/- to 3000/- INR depending upon the availability of ac. It is a perfect example of not inquiring clearly and picturing things differently on little basic information. When the hotel receptionist confirmed about bus station she was having this bus stop in mind and I had foolishly pictured one mini CMBT of Chennai here. Damn!!! Anyways we decided to check out couple of buses first. Lucky for us after leaving two over crowded buses the third had few seats available and we somehow manged to get some space for us. Definitely few of the co passengers helped us with our luggage. Thanks to them we reached Pondicherry at 11:45 am after a hectic ride. We already had our accommodation booked in Hotel Annamalai International. The interior decor was fabulous and the stuff were so welcoming that it took away the tiredness. Below are some pictures of the hotel ( Not that I am advertising it, but just could not resist to share).

It took an hour and half for us to get freshen up and then hit the hotel restaurant “Haveli” for lunch. It was beautifully decorated and resembled a Rajasthani Haveli. We opted for a veg thali. Our plan for the rest of the day was to visit Auroville and then to the french quarters and have an evening stroll at the beach.
We booked an auto for 700/- INR that would take us to Aurioville and then drop us at the french quarters. The fare however is not a fixed one and it entirely depends upon your bargaining power. Unfortunately for us we both somehow were not born with it and never developed the powers as well .

Auroville
Auroville is an experimental township in Viluppuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, near Puducherry in South India. It was founded as a project of the Sri Aurobindo Society on Wednesday 28 February 1968, by Mirra Alfassa (also known as "The Mother") and designed by architect Roger Anger. As stated in Alfassa's first public message about the township, "Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity."
You can spend an entire afternoon raoming, chatting or even relaxing in the various gardens, coffee shops, stalls available at Auroville. In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir.
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#2 Nov 14th, 2014, 15:27
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Pondicherry Trip Contniued

Matrimandir
Matrimandir is an edifice of spiritual significance for practitioners of Integral yoga, situated at the centre of Auroville initiated by The Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It is called soul of the city and is situated in a large open space called Peace. Matrimandir does not belong to any particular religion or sect.
Below are few pictures of Auroville and Pondicherry City.
After we finished our tour of Auroville we went to Sri Aurobondo Ashram and released the auto.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram
The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual community (ashram) established at Pondicherry, in the Indian territory of Puducherry, by Sri Aurobindo on 24 November 1926 (Siddhi Day). At the time there were few disciples staying with Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo subsequently decided to withdraw from public view for continuing his spiritual work and handed over the responsibility of the sadhaks (spiritual aspirants) and the ashram to his spiritual collaborator, "the Mother", earlier known as Mirra Alfassa.
It is prohibited to capture pictures inside the ashram and I was not keep on breaking any rules either. Once inside the ashram no one would feel to break any thing either rules or noise. It was absolutely quite and serene. Once the entire tour of the ashram was completed we roamed around the french quarters for sometime. It was a long and hectic day for us so we decided to retire back to our hotel for the day and had plans for visiting the various churches, beach and other places of the city the next day. Below are the snaps of the French Quarters and the exterior of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. We had the dinner light. Just a bowl of thick mutton soup called Gaulash .Will post the experience of the next two days of our pondy stay soon.

P.S. The descriptions of the Auroville, Matrimandir and Sri Aurbondi Ashram are from Wikipedia for they are much more accurate and better.
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#3 Nov 14th, 2014, 15:45
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Lovely Pics....
#4 Nov 14th, 2014, 16:00
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Thanks @Nick-H , @justDEB. BTW my spellings and typos are horrendous, Microsoft often takes care of it for me . Just now I realized I have spelled even "continued" wrong. Bare with me please.
#5 Nov 14th, 2014, 16:20
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ha ha! We cetainly will not bare with you!

(this is a mistake that I often make, so I am laughing at myself too. Worse: I confuse bear and beer, a mistake that could prove fatal.)

Nice to see you pics and your coverage of the visit. The hotel looks very nice. The one I used to stay at has become just too expensive. Have been to Pondy three or four times, but not yet visited Auroville.
#6 Nov 14th, 2014, 16:38
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Damn it !!!! I actually typed "Bare" Grrrrr. And all this in an open forum . Reason i avoid writing too much. I meant “Bear with me”, which you have already figured out @Nick. Beer would have still been an wonderful alternative though ...

The hotel was great only thing it is a bit far from the French Quarters. Price again varies from time to time. I was there in August, so i suppose, it was not during the peak tourist season, i managed to get some discount.
#7 Nov 14th, 2014, 17:45
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#7
Rad, very nice write-up with smart pictures.....go ahead and do full trip report....you are doing great!
#8 Nov 14th, 2014, 23:10
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Originally Posted by SinghAlongSA View Post Rad, very nice write-up with smart pictures.....go ahead and do full trip report....you are doing great!

Thanks @SinghAlongSA
#9 Nov 14th, 2014, 23:31
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12th August 2014: Pondicherry City Tour
The day started off early. We completed the complimentary breakfast at the Hotel restaurant “ The
Renaissance” and were ready by 9 a.m. Booked an A.C. Cab for 2500/- INR for 7 hours.
It was clearly impossible to visit all churches and beaches of Pondicherry within 7 hours travelling across the city traffic. Moreover our (My wife and I) interest in photography makes it more time consuming. Hence we had already made a sort out list of the places we would visit:
1. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
2. Pondicherry Museum
3. Paradise beach
4. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
5. French War Memorial
6. Park Monument
7. Goubert Avenue
8. Beach Promenade

The first destination was The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
It is situated on the south boulevard of Pondicherry in Puducherry, India, is an oriental specimen of Gothic architecture. It contains rare stained glass panels depicting events from the life of Christ and saints of the Catholic Church. In the year 1895, the then Archbishop Mgr.Gandhi consecrated the Archdiocese of Pondicherry to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He wished to build a new church in devotion of Sacred Heart of Jesus. Rev.Fr. Telesphore Welter, the parish priest of Nellithope prepared the building plan and parish priest of Cathedral Rev.Fr.Fourcaud commenced the construction of the new church in 1902 at the Southern side of Pondicherry.
The blessing of the church and the first mass was held at the western wing of the present church by Mgr. Gandhi on 17, December 1907 and the new parish surrounding this church has been established on 27, January 1908.

Once we were satisfied with our clicks, we went to the Museum.
Pondicherry Museum
Pondicherry Museum has a gallery with sculptures and has the remains of archaeological findings from the Arikamedu Roman settlement. The museum also has a collection of rare bronzes and stone sculptures from the Pallava and Chola dynasties and artifacts excavated from Arikamedu (an ancient port just 7 km from city that had trade links with the Roman empires). Photography was prohibited here and I again complied with the law.

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Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

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Interior of Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


The next destination was paradise beach.
Paradise Beach
It was a long way on the other side of the city The beach can not be reached by car. The only way to reach the beach is via boat(speed / normal) . So once in the beach you would need to stay for a boat to come and take you back. Miss one and wait for the next. There is a very basic and small bar which serves cold soft drinks, beer and basic snacks. There are a couple of shelters for protection from the sun or rain and palm trees for shade too. By this time the sun has burning everything around and the heat was scorch. Our plan was to finish off with the paradise beach as fast as possible. However God had to dispose our best laid plans and we wasted 1.5 hours in there. The boat that was supposed to take us back did not return on time and when it finally came we had to wait for another 30 minutes as it was the lunch time for the crew. Well at last everything was over and we were heading back towards the city. However we got stuck in the middle of nowhere as the engine stopped roaring. The fault of the engine(or the fault in our stars ) was beyond the understanding of our driver which resulted in us waiting there till another boat would rescue us. Ironically there was no boat available to do that job so we waited and to avoid boredom kept clicking. At last a boat did come and typically our boat engine started roaring as well. We all therefore ruled out the option of jumping to the other boat and decided to travel back in the same one. Hence just as the other boat left and our engine went numb again. So another period of waiting and then finally got rescued by another boat. Somehow the faulty engine did not bother to respond now, in any case we would have not stayed in the same boat even if it actually did.
So after wasting our 1.5 hours and burned in scorch heat we planned to have our lunch .

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Way To Paradise Beach

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Paradise Beach

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Sun Deck Chairs Away From The Sun

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Way To Paradise Beach

After lunch our next stop was to buy some perfumes(presumably my wife had found out from some god knows what source that perfumes are great in Pondicherry. Oh how much i hated shopping then.) Anyways as per the cosmopolitan era, found out that all the perfumes are available in my city and at much lesser price. Next destination was The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception Cathedral is the cathedral mother church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore.
The Jesuit Fathers came to the French colony of Pondicherry as missionaries in 1689. There they bought a very large garden to the west of the French Fort. In the 1692 they, with the financial help of Louis XIV, king of France, erected a church which was demolished by the Dutch in the following year. A second Church was quickly built in 1699 but could not last long.
From 1728 to 1736 a large church was built on the site of the present Cathedral. This third church was razed to the ground by the British in 1761 during the Seven Years' War.
Erecting in 1765 provisionally (fourth in serial) a functional kind of irregular shaped shed where the Mission Press (official press depot of the archdiocese) is now, since the year 1770 the Fathers were earnest in building the present cathedral on the foundations of the 3rd Church. On 20 June 1791 the main work was finished and the Church was consecrated by Bishop Champenois. The Bell tower was built later. The choir loft was added in 1905. The Sanctuary was remodeled in the year 1970. The esplanade in front of the Cathedral was remodeled in 1987, to allow people to take part in liturgical ceremonies and special functions held outside.

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The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

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Interior Of The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

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The Main Altar In The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

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Candles

Will post the rest of the report soon.
#10 Nov 15th, 2014, 11:43
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By the time we reached the church, the 7 hours duration was over and we released the cab.
The church is very close to the french quarters and all our other destinations so we decided to hike.
Then spent an wonderful evening walking done the Beach Promenade, taking snaps, meeting new people.

The French War Memorial
The French War Memorial on Goubert Avenue is reminder of those brave soldiers who laid down their lives, for their country during the First World War.[15] It was built in 1971. Every year on 14 July (Bastille Day) the memorial is beautifully illuminated and homage is paid to those brave martyrs.
After sunset we decided to get back to our hotel and freshen up.
The dinner was at hotel bar and the whisky was followed by real mouth watering steaks. Yum !!!
Will post the experience of our last day in pondy soon, till then Ladies And Gentlemen here are some more snaps of the beautiful place called Pondicherry. Have a great Weekend Ahead !!

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Inside The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

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Park Monument (Aayi Mandapam)

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French Consulate

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Beach Promenade

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Mahatma Gandhi's Statue

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Goubert Avenue

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French War Memorial

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Beach Promenade

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Pondy Beach

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Dinner
#11 Nov 15th, 2014, 12:47
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Thank you very much.

We should refer to this thread in the thread about how dirty India is, bacause Pondicherry... isn't! And it shows in your pictures.
#12 Nov 15th, 2014, 14:52
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Rad...your pictures are just too smart....and Nich-H....Pondicherry definitely does not look like a town in India.
#13 Nov 15th, 2014, 15:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post Thank you very much.
Welcome Nick
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post We should refer to this thread in the thread about how dirty India is, bacause Pondicherry... isn't! And it shows in your pictures.
Oh that thread. I was trying to add my two cents there but could not. I guess i would some priviledge to do so. Well it all depends on where someone is looking. Every city has those places which looks like clean and i want a house there and again those few places which makes one think why the heck am i here. Same i have seen in US as well. But thanks for appreciating the pics Nick.
#14 Nov 15th, 2014, 15:46
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Originally Posted by SinghAlongSA View Post Rad...your pictures are just too smart...
Thanks a lot SinghAlongSA
Quote:
Originally Posted by SinghAlongSA View Post Nich-H....Pondicherry definitely does not look like a town in India.
well you are partially correct i must say. I can even show you certain places in Nashville , Denver which never gave the feel that I am in US( with respect to dirty, litter). Again i can show you some places in every city of India which does not look like you are in India( again with respect to filth, dirt and litter).
#15 Nov 15th, 2014, 16:42
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#15
The back streets of Pondy may not be as spotless as the show-town streets of the French sector, but still, Pondy has a culture of cleanliness which is completely different to my city, just three hours to the North.

I have also found that the streets of Kerala are better. One can generalise about India, but there are levels of civic awareness in different places, and some really are much better than others.

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