My fondness towards beaches had always provoked me to visit it but something had always turned up to stop me from visiting it. But a surfing competition was all that intrigued us to pack our bags and head out.
On arriving early in the morning we were quite taken aback when the auto rickshaw driver informed us that no one would go on meter in Pondicherry and you would be charged as per the drivers wish and your bargaining power. So a distance of 5Km costed us Rs 70. Must say the Bangalore auto-walas are a better tribe than their counterparts in Pondi.
The sun was already up and glaring down fiercely even at 7 in the morning.
We had our reservations made at Villa Bayound. The heritage hotel was quite a welcome from the scorching heat outside. The hotel was located on the beach road in the French Quarters. The rooms had all the basic amenities and much to the relief, an essential AC. The balcony overlooking the sea was lovely place to spend your time at if you are too scared to venture out in the glaring sun.
But wasn’t it supposed to be a beach destination? Much to my surprise, there was no beach only rocks on the sea shore. So according to me Pondicherry should stop calling itself as a beach destination and start calling itself as a sea front destination.
After checking in we decided to head towards the site where the surfing competition was being held. It was a short distance from our hotel. It was being held at the beach front near the Seagull Restaurant. Summer Swell Challenge, being organised by the Kallialay Surf School.
We decided to walk to the place. On the way we dropped by at Le Café for some breakfast. The place is quite a small café on the sea front. But the food was not so good and the amount that was being charged for it was certainly not worth it.
Well after breakfast we decided to go ahead toward the Surfing competition. Much to our surprise there were not many people around. It certainly did not match up to all the over hyped ads that we had seen on the net proclaiming it to be one of the biggest surfing event with more than a 70 participants coming from all across the globe. The ads on net said “The competition will see over 70 Registered Surfers from across the nation & over 25 international surfers from various countries, showcasing their skills in the various categories of the competition.” 70 Participants? I beg your pardon, but could not find more than 10-20 surfers. And I beg your forgiveness for my over imaginative mind that thought that the event would be anywhere near to the internationals surfing events that I had seen on TV. With only a few surfers and most of them being locals, the event was not such a thing to look out for. After spending a few hours we decided to get back to our room since the scorching sun had started taking its toll on us.
A tourist information centre in the middle of the beach road helped us with all the tourist locations and maps.
We decided to move towards the Paradise Beach. It is about 8Km from the main town. But do not be fooled by the short distance. The trip would easily cost you about Rs150 for one way, even after spending quite some time negotiating with the defiant auto-walas.You need to reach the Chunnambar Boat hose. At the entry there is a ticket counter charging you an entry fee of Rs10 per person for god knows what. A boat ride to the small island would cost you about Rs150 per person. The beach is a lovely one with white sand and not much crowd during the afternoon hours. There are few beach umbrellas under which you can spend your time lazing around. There are a few shacks on the beach but anything on the price list would easily cost you 2-3 times the original marked price. One thing note worthy was the fact that there were appointed people on the beach to keep it clean. There were also life guards on the beach watching out for any unforeseen events.
After spending a few hours we decided to move towards the all famous MG road. I had read a lot on net about this place being a shopping paradise. I was quite taken aback when I reached there. It was no better than a local market place with shops selling all kinds of household articles. It was certainly not a place where tourist should venture out. Thanks to the unwelcomed comments from the rowdy local crowd, I felt myself totally out of place. A few minutes at this place made me run back to the hotel.
After spending most of the day outside we decided to go out for dinner. Unable to find any nearby and scared from the evening’s incidences, we decided to go for dinner at Seagull restaurant.
Much to my horror the place looked no better than a dingy bar. With no other option we decided to have our dinner fast and get back to the hotel.
By the time we had stepped out of the restaurant, the beach road was mayhem of people. With litters lying at all nook and corner and people streaming in from all corners, it was a paradise for rowdies, who took all possible chances of fully utilising it to their favour. If you are used to wearing dresses take heed and do not venture to wear it. The people around are not used to seeing women in modern dresses and you might call for unwanted comments or attentions. On weekends the beach road turns into a market place and there is hardly any place to move around. It is a shock to see such a drastic change between the day and evening environment of the place. During the day time the place is quite peaceful with hardly anyone around.
The day’s events had totally exhausted us and we decided to call it off for the day.
The next day we decided to go to Auroville. The place was quite a serene place. Even though we could not visit the inside of the Matrimandir, we truly enjoyed the visit. You need to take permission two days in advance if you wish to visit the inside of the dome. Auroville (City of Dawn) is an experimental township in Viluppuram district. Auroville was founded as a project of the Sri Aurobindo Society. Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquillity of the space and entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called Peace area. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiralling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as “a place to find one’s consciousness”. The surface of the dome has 56 kg of Gold, which was sandwiched between as thin sheets. At its centre is a 70 cm crystal ball in a gold mount which glows with a single ray of sunlight that is directed on the globe from the top of the structure.
We then moved towards Auro Beach.The beach was fisherman’s beach and the sand was black and very very dirty. The place was certainly not worth a visit by the tourist.
We had our lunch a small cafe on the Dust Street. Le Vietnam. The food was good. It had quite a few options of food from all over the world. The food might not suit Indian taste buds but they certainly were well prepared and tasty. In the evening we didn’t venture out much and decided to have it at a cafe on the dust street by the name of Madame Shanthe’s Cafe. The food was finger liking. The waiters were very helpful and helped us in selecting the dishes that would suit Indian taste buds.
All in all, the Pondi trip could be named a disaster making me vouch never to visit this place again. Other than Auroville and Paradise beach there is nothing worth visiting.