Just as we were heading towards the end of a project, we decided to take a break once the things are all wrapped up, it has been rather difficult few months with a very demanding client in terms of quality, we did our bit of research and came up with a couple of options –Calicut, Munnar and Pondycherry and we finally zeroed in on Pondicherry because being a Union Territory we knew that the booze will be extremely cheap, so we got our reservation done and started from Bangalore on Thursday night (Indira travels Sleeper Coach Bus) as this was the first time I was traveling to Pondicherry, there were lot of things I wasn’t aware of, First and foremost being the fact that If you are planning a weekend trip to Pondicherry make sure you get you return tickets reserved well in advance as there is a huge rush of people traveling back to Bangalore from Pondicherry and usually all the buses are booked ,also the fact that there are KRTC (Karnataka Roadways ) and PRTC (Pondicherry Roadways) operate a Volvo service from Pondicherry to Bangalore and back-the fact that not a lot of people are actually aware of this, helps you in getting a booking if you are on a short notice and decide to travel at the eleventh hour.
Our start was disastrous.. we were not able to find out the place where we were suppose to board the bus and then later it started raining heavy but we finally made it.. the next morning we were in Pondicherry at 6 ‘O’ clock and therefore decided to go to the Sea Front before we go to our Resort , to catch the Sunrise, however we got a little late and the sun was already up . Now just in case if you are new to Pondicherry here is a piece of information that can help, the Auto Rikshaws there don’t go by the meter and they don’t have a prepaid tariff card. You need to negotiate, what I know is from the Bus Stand to Gubert Avenue (sea front ) costs Rs.30 and from Bus Station to any resort on ECR (East Coast Road) will coast Rs.150. So after having our Breakfast at the Sea front in a nice cozy place which is a café of Hotel Ajantha , we took a Auto for our Resort which is almost 15 kms from the city.
We got our hotel Reservations done early in Hotel Ashok Beach Resort and the agent very conveniently forgot to mention that the check in time of the Hotel is 12 noon, we reached Pondicherry by bus after a rather difficult overnight journey and we just wanted to take some sleep before we start with the sight seeing, we took a Auto rikshaw and went to the hotel ;the standard rate is Rs150 from the Bus stand to Hotel Ashok ; also take a note that there is bus service from the bus station to all the Hotels on ECR(East Coast Road) there is a bus in every 20 mins and it only costs Rs 3 also if you are adventure loving sort you can ask the Auto to take you to Mission street and from there you can hire a two wheeler (usally costs Rs 100/per day) and then drive to the hotel, its not very difficult since the there is just one main road and you have to drive straight down on it. When we reached the Hotel ..we were immediately taken in by the warmness of the place, the hotel is tucked away in a wilderness far from the maddening crowd of the city , the receptionist (a sweet lady called Miss Saundarya) told us that we are early and asked us to wait just another hour and we were checked in at 9 o clock (thanks to them) we got a nice room with a wonderful view of the sea. Also i would like to mention that this hotel sports one of the nicest beach in the city as Pondicherry beaches are pretty rough and rocky, this once also doesn’t allows you to swim ..but since its clean and secluded , there is less to crib.
The staff is very friendly and accommodating (i always follow the philosophy that if you treat someone with respect that’s what you get back in return) over the period of two daysI was with them on there first name basis, the service is immaculate, the bar is open till 10:30 in the night and if you want to drink after that you can order room service to get you your poison and u can stack it in the refrigerator, the menu ..although is less in terms of varity..it more than makes up for it in quality ( pls do try out the chefs special Fish Steaks).. the ambience of the bar gives reminiscence of the old colonial times.. its a rather simple place , no frills and no string attached and thats why you end up feeling so right at home.
The place still doesnt has a swimming pool although its in construction and will be ready by the peak season (Dec- Jan). but I couldn’t have possibly waited that long ,so as we had only 2 days Reservation in Ashok , I decided to check out early in the morning on Sunday and got our booking done in another hotel called Aananda Inn ..its not a beach resort but has a very nice swimming pool and that’s exactly what I wanted after 2 days of rigorous sight seeing ,it seemed like a wonderful idea to laze around at the pool the whole of Sunday..
Hotel Ashok Beach Resort, Chinakalapet , Pondicherry.
While at Pondicherry do not miss Chunnamber Beach..its around 10 Km from the city en route to Cuddlore . Ideally you can rent a bike and Drive down there, start early so that you can be there by 10 in the morning, once you are there. You can take a ferry ride to Paradise Beach Resort ,it’s a beautiful and serene beach and the good thing, is if you were not reading it here, you wouldn’t ever know about it, so you see , its not a very popular tourist destination yet..you can spend the whole day there and still yearn for more (do remember its a private beach and it closes at 6 PM).
There is a lot of frustration that Pondicherry creates for the adventure enthusiasts because while in Pondicherry..you can look at the sea, but you cant go in for a swim as its very rough and sucks you in.. Chunnambar turns out to be a nice place to let you frustration out as it offers a very mellow and soft sea.
Shopping wise Pondicherry doesn’t have any novelty though ,as it offers the same old handicrafts material that you can get on any city which is close to the Ocean. There is a nice market near mission street called Grand Market and its worth going there once.
There is another place on the Goubert Avenue (towards the Cathedral ) called The Book Shop , nice place to spend sometime if you like reading. But what appeals you the most is how well the old French flavor has been preserved in the city and how well it has amalgamated with the culture in South. Take a walk down the Seafront and I will bet you will get a feeling that its Europe and not somewhere in India.
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