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ISLM Travel Diaries: Bangalore to Pondicherry





 

A Road Trip from Bangalore to Pondicherry


Road Trips are special and if it is with your sister, then they take a whole new dimension altogether... My sister and I have made a pact that we shall be doing 1 trip every year, just the two of us... No parents, no in-laws, no husbands/boy friends and in the future, no children... This was our first ever trip of this sort and hence it was special... It was after all the Maiden Once-A-Year-Sisters-Only-Road-Trip and no doubt a hugely liberating experience...







Mode of Transport - Honda City (Petrol)
Total Distance Covered -  295 + 355 = 650 kms (both ways inclusive)
States Covered - Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
Total Time Taken - 8 + 5.5 = 13.5 hours of drive (both ways inclusive)
Dates of the Trip - 6th, 7th and 8th September 2014

Why Pondicherry?

We chose Pondicherry for numerous reasons but the ones that are the most significant are,  the distance from Bangalore and secondly neither of us had been there but were itching to visit it...
Since we two sisters were going to be driving the whole way and that too for the first time without any parental or spousal "supervision", it had to be something that could be covered within a day and so Pondicherry won hands-down!


Plus we had heard such beautiful things about the Union Territory that we just had to go and see for ourselves what the hullabaloo was all about :)

Where Did We Stay in Pondicherry?

My sister and I wanted this to be a budget trip since we wanted to spend more on shopping than anything else and hence we had a list of good 3 star hotels researched and ready...
My sister who is like really disciplined and play-by-the-rules type of a person insisted that we book our hotels a few weeks prior but I convinced her to relax a little and get our hotels booked after we reached Pondicherry and had a look at the kind of accommodation they provided.

Big Mistake!
       Huge Mistake!

Once we reached Pondicherry, it was almost 7:30 pm and whichever hotel we had shortlisted were all BOOKED! Imagine, tired with all the driving, dying to pee, hungry, a new city and no hotel to stay!
My sister was furious with me and was almost short of screaming, when we finally got one hotel that had a Last Deluxe Room left...
We rushed to the hotel, checked out the room and checked-in.


The hotel turned out to be a tiny Heritage Hotel of sorts called Villa Bayoud in the French Quarter part of the town.
It is a quaint, colonial-era styled, small but comfortable hotel that has one entrance on the road and the other bang on the promenade... So in short, one side of the rooms in the hotel give you a view of The French Quarter and the rooms on the other side give you a view of the Sea... Sounds amazing doesn't it :)

The hotel is clean, well  maintained, small staff but courteous and helpful and the rooms have been provided with basic amenities like AC, geyser, TV and stuff...
The only downside of the hotel is that they do not have an elaborate kitchen and hence no meals, only a complimentary breakfast! Also, the hotel like many in Pondicherry doesn't have a car park and hence one has to park their cars on the main road.
It cost us INR 3000/- + taxes per night.
TripAdvisor link to the review of the hotel.

Things to know About Pondicherry Before your Visit

1. Pondicherry is a Union Territory
2. It consists of 4 districts, 3 on the east coast (in Tamil Nadu &Andhra Pradesh) and 1 (called Mahe) on the west coast (in Kerala).
3. Pondicherry is the "birth place" of Hidesign and hence the Hidesign Flagship Store is something that one must visit since everything in it has a discount on it :)
4. Pondicherry City is essentially divided into 2 main parts,
    a. The French Quarter (Ville Blanche) - The colonial Pondicherry that is reminiscent of the ols French rule and which is evident in the street roads, French style Manor houses and the atmosphere on the Promenade.
    b. The Indian Quarter (Ville Noir) - Self explanatory.



My View of Pondicherry

I found Pondicherry to be very beautiful and when I say that I not only mean it scenically but also because of its people, the mish-mash of cultures and because of an overall blanket of calmness that the city seems to be shrouded in.

Unlike Goa, that I invariable compared Pondicherry to, the locals are more friendly and trusting of tourists. Pondicherry is still sheltered from commercialization and things are pretty inexpensive and sometimes even downright cheap. Its a shopper's paradise for sure :)

Culturally, Pondicherry city is really interesting... Architecture wise there is a HUGE influence from the colonial periods but the food, language and traditions are still Tamil. It is no doubt a hugely homogeneous mix with as many temples as there are churches... 



There aren't many foreign tourists that you see as much as Indians coming down over the weekend to unwind and since it is like really close to Chennai and Bangalore, there is a steady influx of IT professionals coming down to this UT on long weekends...

Food wise, like I said earlier, Pondicherry has a mixed cuisine that mostly is influenced by it being a coastal region and hence coconut curries of sea food and the like is very common. Breakfasts are predominantly either idli-sambhar or continental French Toasts and Croissants... Its a delightful mix really and I was left in awe of how beautifully people of Pondicherry have embraced this mix culture... It is humbling...


You will find loads of bakeries and cafes that cater to non-Indian desserts, cakes, macaroons, muffins, sandwiches, pita breads and other forms of delectables but at the same cafe if you ask for a cup of cappuccino, they'll nod their head and say "Only Filter Coffee Madam" :)  Cute isn't it...

Pondicherry is NOT a place to party or have "fun"... For such things, you might want to head over to Goa on the on the West Coast. Pondicherry is a place to relax, unwind, explore your inner-self and take delights in little cultural anomalies...

One thing that stood out was the Policemen had these Red colored French hats on that gave everything an air of nostalgia... Loved every bit of it :)



Lessons Learned

1. Pre-book hotels, especially during weekends since its a sought after weekend destination for people from Chennai and Bangalore.
2. While going to Pondicherry, stick to the Asian Highway and do not venture out on pot-holed  State Highways...
3. Have at least 3 days in hand if you want to explore Pondicherry city properly.
4. Bring lots of sunscreen and light cotton and airy clothes. Shorts and mini skirts aren't really the norm here, however maxi dresses, flowy midi skirts and linen pants are something that will help you feel more comfortable while exploring the non-touristy parts of town...
5. I wish I had learned some basic Tamil before we went to Pondicherry. Not that language is problem and Hindi and English is very easily understood, but when a tourist takes an effort to embrace the local culture, it is pretty easy to have locals help you out just a little bit more ;)

I have 3 more posts lined up about this trip of mine.
The next post would be about the Road Trip and the experience of driving from Bangalore to Pondicherry. So stay tuned :)

Comments

  1. Great Samyukta. . We had been there last month for our 2 nd wedding anniversary. We stayed at Le Pondy.. It was a trip to Pondicherry after many years though we stay in Chennai. . Did you go to the Mother Ashram? ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Harine... Aha! Pondicherry must be really special for you guys :)
      We went to Auroville on a Sunday and since Matree Mandir is open for only half a day on Sunday, we missed it :/

      Delete
    2. Oh.. next time you should go and for Tamil words u can always ask me.. :)

      Delete
    3. Ha ha ha Harine pakka se I'll do that ♥

      Delete
  2. Wow.. I have almost half visited Pondicherry by just going through ur post Samu. I just wished I could see more pics. But the details,the manner u wrote... kudos..
    That's how a travelogue should be!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG thank you so much sweetheart :) I am glad I could make you all see what I saw in Pondicherry :) And yes please do stay tuned... There will be more posts on this and I will make sure that there are loads of pictures for you all to go through :) ♥
      Thank you again! Your comment really made my day :*

      Delete
  3. We went the weekend before that and yes it gets really crowded on weekends. Tamil isn't too hard to learn. Its a bit of a tongue twister at times. I could help you as well :D
    The French cafes are so cute and tucked away in small places.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. he he he tongue twister yes I think it will be for me for sure :) And yes yes yes the French cafes were really the highlight of the place :)

      Delete
  4. Pretty clicks!! I really want to go to Pondi someday

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lucky you! My best mate is from Bangalore but I probably will never get to see that place :(. Nice blog!

    Check out my channel if you get the time: www.youtube.com/fatimasalimk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh why why... You guys must plan a trip together at least once... I promise you'll love it Fatima :)

      Delete
  6. I'm going to Bangalore in a few days and sooo wish I could go to Pondi too! Lovely pictures, Samyukta!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Rima... and yes do try and plan a trip soonest :)

      Delete
  7. As I said earlier Pondy is a place very close to our(me and hubby) heart as it was the first place we travelled together as friends. We chose the same place for our first date and ever since then we go there whenever we need a break from our routine. It has been almost 7 years and more than 25 trips from Chennai to Pondy but still we aren't bored :) Waiting for the other parts :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. awwwww Pondi must really be very special for you guys :) :* I can imagine... I hope you guys have many more such happy visits to Pondicherry Aarthi <3

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    2. We are planning our next one for this long weekend :D

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  8. Firstly, I loved the idea, a sister's only trip is a must in life and everyone should do it regularly. Secondly, I LOVE the pictures, since I myself want to visit Pondicherry. Also, I love how detailed this post is. :) Waiting for next parts :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed hands down Srishty... A sisters only trip is surely a must in life :) and thank you for liking the pictures... I hope you like the next set of pictures in the second post as much :) <3

      Delete
  9. loved it..just want to go travel now!

    ReplyDelete

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