“Traveling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life changing experience of your life. Try it at least once!” -Unknown
Pondicherry or officially called as the puducherry is the french connection that stay’s close to the city I come from and now close to my heart. Wondering why?? I made my first solo trip to this beautiful territory with a total length of coastline spanning up to 45km.
Why I choose pondicherry?
Consisting one of the most beautiful coastline and being Thalassophile (lover of the sea), I couldn’t think twice to start my first solo trip right from here. Their beaches and their sunrises are awe inspiring that it would intrigue anyone to visit this beautiful piece of land.
Here’s how it began…
With a lot of confusion, research and a big “No” from my parents I gathered the courage to set out for a four-day solo trip. Dreaming, thinking and planning started right from this very room where I am also writing this post. After reading quite a few blogs about the courageous women travelers who took their first step to overcome the fears of traveling alone, so did I. I researched an ‘n’ number of sites for deciding my stay and finally, I settled upon choosing Le Chateau – Romain Rolland, Pondicherry. It wasn’t like any typical hotel room but a beautiful heritage building situated on the streets of “White Town” the french quarters, where one would feel like walking on the streets of France. It is artistic and is the closest to the beach. Every street you take would lead you to the ocean. One of the most fascinating places to see stunning sunrises.
Day 1: September 7th (Saturday)
After my 9 hour shift, I started for this amazing trip which I was planning on for months. Following my breakfast, I boarded the bus and my journey began at 8:05 am. I managed to get a seat near the window got my ticket which was priced at 150 INR for a one-way trip. It was a roughly 3-hour journey where people were on and off boarding the bus. I dozed off here and there while watching the fields, cities, towns pass by. I reached Pondicherry exactly at noon. I booked a cab and after 10 to 15 mins ride I arrived at my hotel “Le Chateau”.
Once the formalities were done I was shown to my room. The bed looked so warm and cozy, since being overly sleep deprived I hit straight to bed. After two hours of sleep, I woke up got refreshed and headed straight to the Ocean. In the evening the roads leading to the vast ocean were all lit and beautiful. I strolled along the beach watching people come in with families, kids running around, babies on prams. Being the weekend it was crowded and busy.
There was a small dedication to the “Mission Chandryaan 2” along the pavement. I stopped at a cafe named “Aura cafe” and placed an order for a refreshing cup of filter coffee. The cafe is small right outside the shop called Aura. With their small wooden tables and gravel flooring, it was indeed the best place to have my first cup of coffee on my solo trip.
After the refreshing cup of coffee, I strolled a little further and I saw a little patch of shore and people playing in the sea. I popped myself on the sand stretched my legs and admired the beauty of the moonlight dancing on the sea.
Day 2: September 8th (Sunday)
After a good night’s sleep, I took my camera and headed to the Rock beach to capture the perfect sunrise. This stretch starts from the war memorial to the statue of Dupleix park. I took my place on the rocks and waited for the sunrise. While I anticipated, I watched fishermen cast their nets for an early catch and people jogging along the stretch. There were quite a lot of people waiting to catch a glimpse of the sunrise. I got my equipment ready as the sky started changing its color from purple to pink and reddish-orange. It was by far one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen.
After capturing a few pictures of the sunrise I strolled alongside the beach in the opposite course of the stretch I visited yesterday. Fishermen were severing the fishes while people were coming in to buy. After spending 2 hours on the beach I headed back to the hotel for breakfast. Later I went down to the hotel reception to rent a bike. They provided me with details and in about 30 minutes the bike was delivered. Wearing a helmet isn’t mandatory there but still, I would request to check for one cause what more is important than one’s safety. I started off to a place called “Arikamedu” it was a 21-minute ride from my hotel. The road leading to these ancient ruins was a bit of scary and adventuresome. First, It was quite hard to find the place but the local people did help (asking the locals for direction isn’t a bad idea)
Second, I was surprised not to find any tourists there on a Sunday morning. The road was of sand and racing through it was difficult. All I had was the GPS guiding me to the place and there were hardly two or three men who crossed my path on their motorcycle making a full quick scan. This is where a pepper spray would come handy as I said above one’s safety is important. After about 20 mins, at last, I saw an old lady who was busy cutting the tall grass that covered the roads on both sides. I stopped my bike and enquired to know how far I had to go and if it was safe. She nodded her head and assured me it was safe. I continued to ride again and finally, I saw the ruins there was a gate that was locked and slightly ajar giving a little space where a person could walk in. I stopped my bike and wandered in while my heart was racing at full speed. I held on to my rucksack tight and took out my camera to take a picture of the ruins.
The place was vast and extremely quiet that I could hear my heartbeat. There was no one around and I knew at that moment that I was risking myself of being there all alone and most importantly being a woman. My legs refused to move any further seeing the place surrounded by tall trees and grass. I stood there took a couple of pictures and left quickly. I started my bike and never stopped until I saw that old lady again. She asked if I had water and I shared the bottle of water I brought with me. We conversed for a few minutes where she spoke about her work and the place she was from. I left from there as it was almost noon and the sun was scorching hot. I visited the basilica of the sacred heart of Jesus for my Sunday mass.
I checked the mass timing and there was a mass held at noon. It was a beautiful ceremony after which I headed back to my hotel. Following a delicious meal, I took a quick nap examining weather outside. Later that evening I walked to the war memorial and then visited an art exhibit. It was enchanting and unconventional and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I walked for a stretch and later went back to the hotel for dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Day 3: September 9th (Monday)
I was up early. I checked the time on my mobile phone and it was around 4 am. After a nice hot shower, I headed to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral to start my day with the blessing. It was situated in a serene location close to the beach. The architecture of this cathedral which is a mix of Indian and French design would surely make one’s jaw drop. With its high ceiling, the intricate design and the beautiful exterior make it a must-visit. Following the early morning mass, I headed to the beach to catch another perfect sunrise. After breakfast at the hotel, I headed to another historic place which is 1hr 13 minutes away from Pondicherry called the Gingee fort.
I will be writing a separate blog on my visit to Gingee fort and posting soon.
After returning from Gingee I headed straight back to the hotel. After a good hours rest, I was back on the streets of Pondicherry. I headed to the La cafe which is situated on the beach. After a dilemma to choose between ginger beer and the lemonade, I placed an order for the ginger beer cause lemonades can wait. After being served I took my bottle and went to the rooftop from where one can see a striking view of the ocean at night. Later spending the amount of time enjoying the view of the beach I walked back to my hotel.
Word of caution: Never roam in white town late at night or at the early hours of the day (12 to 4 am) you might end up being caught by the police.
Day 4: September 10th (Tuesday)
The day I return home, I got ready and checked out of the hotel. I headed to the shop called Aura and bought a few items from there as a memory of my first solo trip to this beautiful piece of land.
Later I took a cab to Auroville which is called the “City of the Dawn” where people from all over the world come and live together in peace. On the way, I found quite a few restaurants, cafes, and pottery shops. After a 10 minute drive, It is quite a long walk to the Matrimandir but it is quiet and relaxing. This place is perfect for those who are looking for peace. After the walk and visiting the Matrimandir I bought a gelato Italiano ice cream from the dreams cafe located on the premises. It was just yum truly heavenly and after spending 2 to 3 hours here I headed back home with loads of memories and satisfaction for completing my first solo trip to this lovely piece of french connection.
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