So guys who follow me on Instagram would know how we had a very small vacation of 3 days to pondicherry and velankanni when during this ganesh chathurthi (September 2017). We want to travel a lot and see new places but unfortunately my job gives so much money but no vacation or not even 4 days leave together! Thats so bad 🙁 But anyways we kind of make it a point to travel once in a year and that is mostly somewhere around our wedding anniversary that falls on August 28th. Jose loves driving so he kind of picks up all these places in the south of India but I dislike car journey only because atleast two days of our precious holiday is wasted sitting in car and munching on a dozen of Lays pack 😛 but anyways hopefully we will get exhausted of all spots in south soon and we will have no choice but to go longer distances ( Hee hee ).
Note : I swear I started drafting this post in October of 2017 and it took me 8 months to get it uploaded – talk about being lazy!
So this time our plan was Pondichery for 2 days and Velankanni for one day..oh we started from Kolar, Karnataka. Don’t ask me all the distance, route and mileage details please 😛 If you have any queries I would get them clarified from Jose who is the specialist in this case – I am actually incharge of the baby, snacks and DJ 😛 We booked our rooms at Pondiville Forest retreat (Tripadvisor link) and I couldn’t have asked for a better break from our tedious job life than this perfect place to be at.
The place is like so amazing that if at all I run away you should be searching for me there 😛 The place is like a hidden gem in the forest and when I say forest I literally mean it. The final approach road is a katcha mud road but the feel of driving till there is awesome..absolutely no vehicle and in the jungle with birds and butterflies.
The rooms were very comfortable and well furnished, just no TV for individual rooms and no phone signal too – that was the best part – no emergency calls, no instagramming, no newsfeed checking, we had the full realisation of our existence there 😛
Where all we went in Pondichery and what all we liked :
I think it depends on person to person on what you would like to do and see in Pondicherry. We were there as a family and our agenda was to relax instead of exhausting ourselves trying to strike off all the must visit checklist. We had started from Kolar early in the morning and reached our Pondiville by around 3pm, had our lunch there – such a homely vibe there – loved the food. We refreshed ourselves and then headed out to rocky beach.
Rocky Beach –
Rocky beach also knows as the promenade beach has time restriction for vehicle parking so choose your parking space wisely based on your plan. The Rocky beach is a much mentioned instance of disappearing coastlines of India where as much as 32.3 percent of the entire length of the Pondicherry district coast is occupied by seawalls and groynes as artificial means of protection from the sea. Well facts and figures apart, the place is good for a nice walk and italian icecreams but a little crowded and too touristry types. We just spent the evening walking, grace was enjoying her freedom for the locked doors of the car and we had nice scoops of italian icecreams.
We had to pass our time till dinner after the beach so we went to Our Lady of Angels Church (also called Eglise de notre Dame des Anges, White Chapel, Kaps Koil) is the fourth oldest church in Puducherry, a Union territory in South India. The original structure was built in Greco Roman architecture by Napolean III in 1855, with the architect being Louis Guerre (details collected from Wiki and I had no idea when I visited). There is immaculate conception cathedral as well but we did not go there because I did not want to miss the craft bazaar nearby lest I run out of time to check it out in peace 😀
Craft Bazaar at Gandhi Thidal –
Now I did not know that the area hosts crafts bazaar all year round based on the festival around but I came to know about it from their website while writing this post! This place is an enclosed building and reminded me of Dilli haat but way smaller than that. There were people selling lot of handicraft products and they were all so pretty, I wanted to shop it all 😛 I got a couple of wood slices – I had been longing to get these for my lettering and I loved the colors and finish of these. I also picked up a handmade macrame lampshade that has not yet seen daylight 😛
I learnt that pondicherry people does a lot of handcrafted stuffs. So much handmade stuffs especially soaps, candles, beaded earrings & jewelry, and most noticeably yarn lamps ( they have this love for lighting ). I heard that aurobindo aashram is a must visit, mostly for all the handmade and sustainable stuffs they make – candles, soaps, beaded jewelry tops the list. ( We did not visit the aashram but I think it calls for another pondy trip ;))
For food, you have like a gazillion options in Pondicherry so I don’t think its important where we ate 😛 The suggestions that I had was Pizzas in Tantos Pizzeria or Cafe Xtasi and Dessert at Zuka. Now I have no idea where there places are ( please look up on the map) and neither did we visit them. We instead went to this place called Villa Helena in white town – a heritage hotel which has so much of the medieval colonial aura. The 19th century mansion served as a women’s hospital, a teacher’s residence and an administrative office before it was turned into a bed and breakfast 15 years ago and currently running as a heritage hotel. I wanted to shamelessly take a pic of the washroom there (the only room I could get into)- it was like I was teleported to colonial era 😛
The restaurant area which is like the front yard of the villa was the most heavenly experience I have ever been at. The entry way had white pillar candles lit and then the lush green garden, lights hanging from the trees, the all white comfortable round chairs and tables..I was literally in heaven and also cursing myself for not learning to capture night life beauties on my cam 😛 You can check out the menu here on their official website – we had grilled beef fillet and lemon poached chicken salad. It was heavy especially after the many scoops of ice cream that went in earlier!
Paradise beach :
Then best beach ever and if you missed it, you have wasted your Pondy trip ! So basically the beach lies a little farther away from the town, across the river Ginghee that opens to Bay of Bengal and you can access it via road or cut across through a boat ride from Chunnambar boat house. Since we had our own car and since we have had ever so wonderful waiting experience during all our boatrides ever, we decided to skip the hassle of waiting and rushing through a boat ride and instead chose for the longer car drive.
The beach is not much of a tourist place so its very clean, least crowded and the water was actually blue! Grace made a couple of sandcastles and I wanted to click loads of pictures but since I had to help her with her sand work, I could no longer dare dirty my camera 🙁
If you are coming with family, get a bedsheet/picnic mat so that you can rest under the pretty shades of coconut trees lining the coast and have a majestic view of the blue ocean. Also remember to pack up a small evening snack to munch on while you have a good time.
Pondicherry Museum :
A definite must visit because Pondicherry is what it is because of the french colonies of the past. A tiny museum tucked in the center of the town, literally left me in awe of the sophistication and luxury the french administration had centuries back. The ground floor artefacts were a bit boring for my taste – loads and loads of geological artefacts, stones,coins,relics etc. The top floor is where all the collection of major furniture of the colonial era, used by Duplex himself is on display and looking at the gigantic mirror I was like – I have a mirror that shows just my face and here is one to fit 5 people together! There are few other museums in Pondicherry as well but due to shortage of time, we ended with just this one.
Casablanca shopping mall :
So we wanted to go shopping and after lot of internet suggestions, we decided to go to Casablaca. Although I thought it would be like the all in all of Pondy, I found that it was just another mall but the ambiance was totally Pondicherry style – loved the interior decor! We dint have anything specific to shop and we wanted to get some souvenirs but casablanca is defnitely not the place for that so we ended up buying chocolates and yes this pretty beaded earring that they sourced from aurobindo aashram 🙂
I told you they were pretty!
This is all where we practically went about in Pondicherry and we loved our 2 days stay there because one- we stayed at this super comfy and homely place , two – we had a very relaxed holiday and did not stuff our itinerary with too much running around and three -grace was super happy!
Tranquebar – the place of singing waves
After Pondicherry, we headed to Velankanni and we chose our travel through another historical place – Tranquebar an old Danish colony, now known as Tharangambadi. The few historic monuments you should definitely not miss here is the Shiva Temple supposedly built in 1306, Danish Fort (Fort Dansborg)- now turned into museum, New Jerusalem Church ( renovated post 2004 Church but originally built in 1700s when the lutheran church was established by the first protestant missionary in India). All of these are at walkable distance within each other and you can cover them in less than an hour. Our plan was a stopover for lunch at Tranquebar ad a small afternoon break at the beach – was just perfect!
We had lunch at the Banglow on the Beach – a heritage hotel run by Neemrana group of hotel, which was earlier the Danish Governor’s residence. Sometimes it feels like time travel you know – when you see how much of thing of the past is still intact and I don’t know the place literally gave me goosebumps!
The must do activity at Tranquebar is shell picking and I am not kidding when I say this ! There were couple of people with nets and bags, bring out huge bundles and seashells and another group sitting at the shore and sorting them out. We were standing at the shore but still we could grab a lot of shells, but unfortunately we could pick only so much that fit into our hands!
Velankanni Church :
Nothing much to write about Velankani church as it is so much of a spritual experience no matter what you do. We had a very long evening that we spent in the Velankanni Church, we walked till Matha Kulam Church, spent some peaceful moments there before we headed back to our hotel.
Talking about hotel, our stay was a little away from Velankanni town but the place was too good. After having come from Pondiville, I wouldnt be giving a ten on ten for “Velankanni Lake Resorts” but considering how much of a rush is generally there in Velankanni, getting a peaceful room is like so much of a blessing.
The photos in their website resembled the typical mauritius honeymoon suite pics of the hut in the middle of blue ocean and I wasnt disapppointed! The place is actually a fishing lake on a large area and the room are like individual villas right on top – it was a different experience. Although we spent just one night at the hotel, the view we had during our dinner was too good to be true 🙂
The next morning we returned back and our drive was through Trichy – as we planned to meet Jose’s cousin who was working there. All the drive from Tanjore to Trichy, I was unusually silent as I was getting soaked in lot of memories of the past, memories I didn’t even remember I would remember and as everybody says, college was the best time of my life no matter how much I cursed it when I was there! And after eagerly checking out for a long time, all I could catch was a glimpse of the clock tower – how much the place has changed! Adieu NIT Trichy – you made me what I am today 🙁
So well I am back to my Kolar – it is very very difficult to get back on track especially when you have such a wonderful break! Hoping to get a short break sometime sooner 🙂 Until then Cya!