2019 has been a wild ride with a new job, a couple of thousand new followers, and a lot of stressful days. From a family point of view we have had some tough times, I don’t want to get into at this time, but its safe to say it cancelled some our long standing trips. This trip came out of the blue. My friend Rhia lives in Bangalore and was planning to go to Pondicherry with two other friends and I decided to tag along.
Pondicherry is a city like no other. Its messy and chaotic— like every small town in India but also peaceful and laid back at the same time. You still have creepy eyes lurking on the beach but at the same time you get to clean beaches and sustainable practices all around. Its foreign and familiar at the same time which is almost a great balance for a trip. As I have done for other trip journals, I am not going to give you an itinerary but how to get there, places to stay, things to, and eat!
How to get there
From Delhi, your best bet is to take the 3 hour flight to Chennai and then take a 3 hour bus/cab or car to Pondicherry.
While there are intercity Uber and Olas (Rs. 2500 one way), there is next to none commute options between Pondicherry and Auroville, or within the city itself. We originally thought of taking scooters in the city but they are very unsafe and honestly not as convenient as a car. I suggest renting a car from Chennai. I took a Zoomcar fatback from the airport. The cars are great and really make commuting a breeze. Only downside, the cars have a electronic speed regulator that prevents the car from going faster than 80 kmph. Not the worst thing just that it take a little longer to get to your destination but hey! The ECR is a great road to drive and you won’t even know where those 3 hours went by
There are a LOT of great places to stay but it all depends on location. If you plan to not rent a car, I suggest staying in White Town. Its the centre of Pondi and things from there are all walkable. If you do plan to stay near the beach or Auroville, think about renting a conveyance. We stayed in a hotel called The Bull. It was small, but clean and very affordable in White Town (2 blocks from the beach!).
Do check out Airbnb, there some really amazing places to stay there. Plus if you can afford it do check out Villa Shanti. By far one of the prettiest places to stay in the town (well that and La Maison but that’s way too expensive).
There are three beaches that I went to:
Rock beach is right off the coast of White Town. Its a sandy beach that a rocky wall which meets the sea. This means that you really can’t get into the water here but there is a beautiful breeze that blows through. Do try to go to the pier which ends into a lighthouse.
Auroville Beach is by far the best beach. Park your car at Tanto’s and then walk through their private beach access into possibly the cleanest beach there is. If there is one reason why I would go back to Pondi, it would be for this beach.
Serendipity Beach is small, populated the access point to some of the best scuba diving opportunities in the country. I didnt try but it seems like a great place!
Auroville is an amazing space to check out. Its a bit of a drive but worth spending the whole day. As a tourist, you won’t have access to the living areas of the citizens but the visitor centre and the walk to Matrimandir can be a day spent well on its own. We luckily knew someone who lived there and could see just a glimpse of what life inside Auroville can look like.
There are quite a few places to eat in Pondicherry. The whole town shuts by 10pm so be vary of that as you plan your day (Even Dominos stops deliveries after 11pm).
Coromandel Cafe was by far one of my favourite places to eat the whole restaurant is stylised as a giant living room with season flowers on each table (that change through the day) and a very selective menu. The key to a great food experience is seeing a tiny (sometimes a one page) menu with each item needing separate ingredients. The drinks were great and so were the breads!
Villa Shanti is one of those places that have hype but somehow fell flat when it came to food. The presentation, and ambience is gorgeous. The staff was amazing too but the food was… fine. It was delicious and but even though they had adventurous dishes like a pan seared barracuda, the meals that really worked were the North Indian dishes— never a good sign for a place that prides in being Indo-french. The Creme brûlée was divine and resplendent with fragrant vanilla bean.
Bread and Chocolate: A simple restaurant in Auroville that makes earnest and wholesome breads, croissants, and some of the best sandwiches. The place is always packed with both humans and doggos so get a little vulnerable and sit with strangers!
Visitor Center: The Matrimandir visitor centre is a great pitstop to get some treats before heading out with some the best (and cheapest) gelato! I only tried that (and to be honest, that was the best thing to sacrifice your carbs).
I hope this helps you if you do plan to travel soon! As always please comment and let me of places that you liked that I’m sure I’ve missed out!