Pondicherry: France in India

IMG_7916Hey guys!

Im finally here to share my experience about Pondicherry! I have tried my best to keep it short! If you all want more details on the trip, please do let me know 🙂

History, food {great food}, beaches and Ashrams; Pondicherry has it all. Having visited the backwaters in Kerala last year, I knew that I haven’t gotten enough of the South and Pudducchery/Pondicherry was on top of my bucket list.

We booked a flight from Delhi to Chennai and decided to drive down on the East Coast Road to our final destination. The drive as expected was beautiful and even though we did stop at a dhabha en route which was a huge dissapointment when it came to food, the filter cappi made up for it {Heaven, oh yeah}.

In Pondicherry, we stayed at the hotel Palais de Mahe. Newly built, this hotel resonated the old world charm of French architecture. With intricate details resembling the colonial building styles, this boutique hotel transported you back in time. We had our first meal at the hotel’s restaurant itself {which was highly recommended}, and boy was I surprised! From Lobsters, crab to grilled fish, they had it all. With each dish being succulent and flavourful, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the trip.

Having rested for a bit, we decided to walk around the city in the evening {it’s way too hot to do so in the day}. Pondicherry is interestingly has it’s areas marked out using the colour of the buildings. If the colour of the building is yellow, it’s a part of the French quarter {where he lived}, if it’s grey, its owned by the Aurobindo Ashram and if it’s white, it’s a part of the Tamil Quarter. Easily explorable on foot or cycles, Pondicherry is every history buff’s delight. What makes the space stand out is the very fact of how modern elements such as graffiti takes over walls of the colonial French quarter.

The Promenade is open to walk , sit, eat and do whatever one wants from 6 am to 6 pm as no cars are allowed on that 1 kilometer stretch. With hundreds of people simply hanging around with their families and enjoying an evening snack at the hawkers around the ocean, there’s a sense of quiet in the chaos.

For my family and I, what made the trip the trip was definetly the food. Since we aren’t really into medition or spas, the gastronomic journey was the highlight of our trip. The food was a delightful mix of French cuisine with Tamil flavours and vice-versa. It may sound strange at first, but trust me, you got to exeperience it to truly appreciate it’s brilliance. I won’t talk about every single meal here since this post would literally never end but two meals that definetly stood out for us were at Maison Perumal in the Indian Quarter and Tantos in Auroville.

Maison Perumal, the sister property of Palais de Mahe specializes in authentic Chettinad cuisine. We ordered a portion of shrimp tossed sautéed with coriander, their classic fish curry with apams and prawns ground with spices served with rice. Though I don’t remember the exact names of the dishes, till date the flavours are etched in my memory.

Tantos, on the other hand, located in Auroville provided us with an altogether different experience. Auroville , located just 10 kms from Pondicherryis an experimental township in Viluppuram ) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district which houses about 50,000 people from all over the world. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity – in diversity. Today Auroville is recognised as the first and only internationally endorsed ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness, also concerned with – and practically researching into – sustainable living and the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind. What makes the place even more interesting is the fact that out of the entire population, only about 1/3rd are Indians. Hence, this global township offers you a unique spinechilling experience. With german bakeries, French cafes, Italian restaurants, greek dhabas, Auroville has something for everyone’s liking. After hearing so much about Tantos from tourists as well as civilians, we had to try it out and I am so glad we did. Specializing in pizzas, they are some of the best I have had across the world! If you do visit there, make sure you are ready to wait to be seated and served {it’s worth it}. We also picked up a slice of banana chocolate chip cake from the Auroville bakery and enjoyed a cup of tea with homemade bread and jam in an organic cafĂ© called Natural Elements. To add to the experience, we also got to visit the Auroville paper factory and that was one experience no one should ever miss. If you love stationary, this place will be your paradise.

Other than Auroville, the Indian Quarter of Pondicherry completely sets it self apart from the French quarter. Resembling any other town in Tamil Nadu, this area is any shopper’s paradise. Specialising in leather goods {The Hidesign concept store + factory + factory outlet is located here} to indo-western outfits, candles, essences, if you’re looking to take out some time to shop, you’re in for a delight. Most of the stores in the French quarter are boutiques and hence the pricing may be a tad bit high, though totally worth it.

I wont go on too much and will let the photographs speak for them selves. If you do plan to go to Pondicherry, please feel free to email me at sarasuri@gmail.com and I’d be really, really happy to help you! Here are some of the places that you MUST visit-

Places to Eat:

  1. Maison Perumal- For Lunch {The Indian Quarter}
  2. Palais de Mahais- For Dinner {The French Quarter}
  3. The Indian Kaffe Express- For Coffee {The French Quarter}
  4. La Maison Rose- For Dinner and drinks{The French Quarter}
  5. Villa Shanti – For Lunch {The French Quarter}
  6. Tantos – For lunch, Italian {Auroville}
  7. Auroville Bakery
  8. Natural Elements – For tea/lunch {Auroville}
  9. Paradise Beach and Auro Beach –It’s too hot during the day but as the weather gets pleasant in the evening, the beach gets crowded. Catch 22.

 

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Filter Coffee, En Route Pondicherry {East Coast Road}

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View from the terrace of the Hotel

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Hotel Palais de Mahe- Pool

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Restaurant at the Hotel

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The meal at Maison Permual

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The first meal in PondicherryIMG_6332

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Tantos and Natural Elements in Auroville

Hope this post inspires you to make a trip there! Pondicherry and Auroville have so much to offer. Though theyre really quaint, both these spaces offer and insight to global and local fusion in best way possible!

 

 

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