It had been a while since I had met my childhood friend Manhar. So I decided take some days off from work and visit her. She and her husband were staying in Chennai, and I had never really explored the city. But the interesting part was, that my 3-day itinerary was not going to be about roaming around Chennai, but spending some quality time with her. She suggested a road trip to Pondicherry and Auroville; and I couldn’t think of a better idea.
It Takes 2-3 Hours From Chennai To Reach Pondicherry By Road
We were staying on the outskirts of Chennai, so we were able to skip the city traffic and hit the highway pretty soon. The distance is almost 150-170kms, depending on your point of departure. The moment you are on the East Coast Road, the good part of the journey starts. It’s a smooth drive with a gorgeous view lakes and lush green surroundings. We also crossed quite a few salt farms on the way, the only reason we stopped our car mid-way during the journey was for fresh coconut water! One our way, we could see bunch of coconuts, just hanging from the tree. Intrigued, we decided to buy two freshly cut coconuts for ₹40 each.
We Stayed In The French Part Of Pondicherry
Due to its colonial history, Pondicherry is known for its French township culture. While looking for AirBnBs , we were quite sure about wanting to stay in that part of town, because the colourful buildings and the proximity to the beach and promenade was a plus. There are numerous boutique hotels in the area that have been able to retain the architecture of old buildings. If you do not want to stay in one, then you can go to restaurants in one of these places to experience that nostalgia and go back in time.
After freshening up a bit, we decided to explore the area on foot. We visited some popular spots like Cafe De Arts and the Promenade, but mostly just walked around exploring the local area. The bright coloured buildings, the amazing art-work in local cafes, made our ‘roaming around aimlessly’ feel quite fruitful.
The Next Stop Was Auroville
Auroville is a universal city, based on visions of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. It is a very inclusive township that is all about humanity, kindness and unity. It took us around half an hour to reach Auroville from Pondicherry. The main attraction here, is the Matrimandir. A large dome-shaped structure that is golden in colour because it is made with gold compresses in glass. It is not considered to be a tourist spot, as not every one can enter the complex. There is often a long wait for it; but we got lucky.
Once we were done with the tour, we explored Auroville complex. The place has a different vibe. It’s full of positivity and calmness. The cafes here are vegan, so we did get to try some interesting dishes, but not all of them were tasty.
Even though the distance was not much, we did decided to book a different AirBnB for ourselves in Auroville. Despite being secluded and in the middle of, what seemed like a forest, it was quite beautiful. It was minimalistic, comfortable and warm.
And Then It Was Time To Take Surfing Lessons
My friend and I, both are beach bums. But if it wasn’t for her, I would have never got the courage to pick up a surf board and ride the waves, well… almost. We signed up for surf sessions at Kallialay Surf School in Pondicherry. Even though are trip was short, we still wanted to give it a try, My friend was far more determined than I was and she was able to learn basics quite early on. I, on the other hand, was struggling. But our instructor was extremely good. She asked me to focus on staying calm and to just go with the flow, quite literally. Though i didn’t achieve much in terms of the skill, but I certainly managed to gather the courage to pick up the surf board, the next time I get an opportunity to do so.
We had never thought that we could pack so much of experience in such a short trip. The more you explore both these towns, the more get absorbed in their culture, and way of life. Despite travelling with my childhood friend, it allowed us to explore so many things about each other that we were absolutely unaware of. There is something about this place that makes you want to explore yourself, and be able to do that with my best friend by my side was a wonderful experience.