Thursday, 24 December 2015

My 1st Solo trip, Pondicherry!


Can’t wait to share my happiness!

I’m back from an amazing solo trip to 'Puducherry' (Pondicherry) India. Although I have travelled alone a lot of times but planning, making all bookings, managing all expenses, dreaming and executing everything was different here. A bit scared in terms of safety, dealing with strangers, expenses etc. I'm an introvert kind of person so it was actually a big step for me. 

AND It has been an wonderful experience! Extremely awesome!!! Meeting new people, making friends, interesting places, amazing experiences, superb food... living near the beach, cycling, strolling, walking around... a lot to share from my trip to 'Pondi'.

I'm quite a budget traveler. I'll add all details of places and bookings in the end. 

One special thing about it is that, it's was funded from my earnings of new craft business. 
Another special thing was I did Scuba Diving!  Yeahh!

 ~ Part ONE ~

Ruskin Bond <3

When you're alone for some time, you learn to observe more and you enjoy in a different way. Something to read and music can keep the boredom away!  

Aurobindo Ashram's New Guest House. It was a basic neat room, cheap and safe. 
Sufficient for a solo traveler like me.

I reached around afternoon, checked in my place and freshened up. The auto-rickshaw overcharged me for a very short distance. Mind it, always get detailed info about your places. 

That day in town went in walking around, tried sinking in the place, getting along in the crowd. The Promenade beach was just 2 min walking distance. WoH!
It's the popular stretch of beachfront, lined with big black rocks in the city. These rocks are actually granite boulders put by Govt to stop soil erosion. Even in the afternoon quite a number of people were on the beach. Stray people. Stray dogs. And stray ME. I tried relaxing and freeing my mind. There was no need to get conscious of people. No need to get intimidated. They all are people for God's sake!

The beach and me

In a short span of time, I actually had a good sight-seeing. The famous 'Mahatma Gandhi' Statue (it's just on the beach), saw Park Monunemt (Aayi Mandapam) in the nearby park called Bharati Park and the French War memorials.
Statue and memorials

After quite a good walking I was hungry and came to this famous 24 hrs coffee lounge 'Le Cafe' which overlooks the beautiful rocks and sea. It's very much on the center and the best option for food there.
I had a veggie grilled sandwich and Caffe Frappe :)

Weather was pleasant and with evening it started getting crowded. If you have really nothing to do, be there, relax and enjoy the breeze ~  

With my pretty bicycle, above is a nearby lane!

Second day I was completely in form. Confident. I rented a bicycle from the guest house at 75 INR for a day (that's really cheap). For the beautiful lanes in white-town, bicycles are the best way to roam. I might be cycling approx after 12 years!
I carried a map and and marked where I needed to go. The map was super useful.
The city is well planned, you'll not get lost. People will help out if in trouble. In case you don't know French or Tamil, English works superbly.

I explored and saw the beautiful churches, temples, local shops, people, pretty houses and so much more. The Botanical Gardens were closed for some maintainance. One would witness lot of foreigners for obvious reasons of this being a french colonial place in 1950s, so may be kinda local there and also it's a huge tourist spot. 

There is this White Town section where these French impression can be see. Neat lanes and gorgeous trees all around. One can find interesting eat-outs and boutiques in between. Then there is this market place that is typically like any other city in India. All these touristy places are easily accessible. Pondicherry is a good place for foody people. Lots of nice options to eat out from French to local Indian Cuisine. Can be a bit expensive for a solo traveler though.

Solo travelers can use timers for their pics, ask shamelessly to strangers or else selfies are always there.

The beautiful Churches

- Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Immaculate Conception Cathedral
- Our Lady of Angels Church

The (South) Indian palate while on the move!
(l-r) Surguru at Heritage Town - It was great! Food and ambiance both.
Saravana Bhavan at Jawaharlal Nehru Street - This Pondy branch was very okaish. Quick budget food.
A Cafeteria at Auroville - Hmm it was good. 
Hotel Ahana, just in front of Railway Station - Good food and value for money.


Gossip near the beach :)

Pondy Urban Streets!

Tried a crisp Waffle with Chocolate sauce at the Indian Kaffee Express!

'Sri Aurobindo Ashram'
The samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

White Town

Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple - beautiful Ganesha temple

Wood-fired oven baked pizza! Yum

A common sight! :)

Random selfies, the lanes, the museum, an 18th century Light House!
The Puducherry Museum was small, but has a exclusive collection of some of the finest art works. Beautiful scuptures, paintings, objects from the 18th to 20th century. Swords, coins, mirrors, gods. Furniture from French dynasty; beds, dining set, liquor storage, cutlery and what not. Decors, animal carvings, clocks, rocks and transporting vehicles. I loved all these.  

The 'Bakers Street' for the French taste buds! 

What interesting house!

Me at the Promenade Beach :) 
Everyday in my Pondicherry ended with being on the beach side. I loved the sea. The beautiful, calm, soulful sea. You see lots of people with family, friends or alone. Even people befriending the dogs. Like me, all came to find some quality relaxing time watching the splashing wavy mighty sea. 

There are few good tips to follow: Wear simple, comfortable clothing to blend in. Best would be loose cottons and easy slippers. Use a sunscreen/umbrella/scarf. It's hot. Keep drinking water close, you'll sweat a lot. Forget Makeup girls.. Mascara/Kajal or lip balm will do. Keep cash handy. 

* Ashram guest house was booked through here. I stayed at New Guest House, which was 400 INR/day. It's very basic with rules and regulations. One can find lots of near-the-beach better staying places also.
* South-Indian food may cost 70 INR minimum, while French food may cost 200 INR minimum for a single person.
* Photography is allowed inside the Churches while no photography is allowed inside Puducherry Museum and Temples.
* The Aurobindo Ashram has specific timings for visitors. 8 am to 12 noon and from 2 pm to 6 pm. Again no photography/ no shoes allowed.
* Smartphone users can have installed. Helps with good restaurant reviews. 
* After around 6 pm no vehicles are permitted in the beach side. 


Two more posts will follow ~ Scuba Diving and Auroville. Stay in touch.