Pondicherry – relaxing weekend trip from Chennai

Distance – 170 kms from Chennai (nearest Airport)

Duration of my trip – 2 nights and 3 days but 2 whole days in Pondy should be enough. 3 days makes it more relaxing.

Things to do

  1. Walk in the White Town, enjoy the old architecture and lovely colors
  2. Buy from Cottage Naturals and Auroshikha – really great stuff for affordable prices
  3. Dine in good restaurants
  4. Go for a stroll near the sea, sip a cup of coffee at La Cafe.

One can drive down to Pondicherry/Puducherry via ECR(east coast road) or via GST (grand southern trunk road). If you are a fairly good driver, I’d suggest you take the ECR during daytime. I’d suggest ECR because the road is scenic with the road running parallel to the sea and view of backwaters and migratory birds. At the same time the drivers need to be a little cautious as the roads do not have a divider and it’s just 2 lanes (most of the way). So if you are driving after sunset it’s better to take the GST road.

The best way to do this three day trip is to start on a Saturday morning around 11 AM and stop by Mahabalipuram for lunch. There is Radisson Blu, Grande Bay for good lunch buffet or there are more restaurant options(A2B, Motel Mamalla, CCD) in Mahabs one can try.

Stay

Start from Mahabs at 2 PM and reach Pondy at 4PM. There are lot of lodges and hotels (very affordable)in White Town. So if you are the adventurous type, you can drive in those streets and easily find a place to stay. I’d suggest you start your search for rooms from the hotels in the beach road and work inwards.

Do

Once you got your room, check-in, relax and then head out for dinner. There is this place called La Pasta World. We really loved it. It’s run by an Italian couple and has an open Kitchen. Try it out. After dinner take a walk in the streets of Pondy. Sunday, there is a Sunday Market that happens, but we didn’t find anything interesting to buy from there, so you might want to avoid that. It can get really sunny, hot and humid during the day time, so you might want to step out after 4 PM. You can visit Auroville, Aurobindo Ashram and Paradise beach << those are some of the places everyone visits when they to go to Pondy, but since I’m from Chennai, beaches are really not that attractive to me and Ashram isn’t my thing. So, we went to Le Cafe in the evening, just sat there listening to the sound of the waves and sipping coffee and eating cake. After that you can end the day with a wonderful dinner at Le Club at Dumas Street. On the third day, have your breakfast and checkout of the hotel by 12 noon and go shop for friends and family. We wanted to buy some stuff for our home and went to Auroshikha and Cottage Naturals. Just make sure to check out these shops, you will be surprised at the wonderful things that are sold there.

Cottage Naturals (phone:(0413)2333324), they open everyday from 3PM to 7:30PM. You can buy incense sticks, organic soaps and lots of other handcrafted things at a superb price. Closed on Sundays.

To avoid: we had lunch at Madame Shanthe’s, Romain Rolland Street, the service was very slow and the food was not good at all.

Get out of Pondy by 3:30 and you should reach Chennai by 7 PM, depending on the traffic.

5 Long-weekend trips from Chennai

There is a long weekend coming up (Sept 7, 8, 9) and here are a few places that I’ll recommend for you. If you love driving, all these places are definitely approachable by road and believe me, Tamil Nadu state highways are great. If you do not want to drive, take a train or bus(chances of getting tickets is very less)

1. Chennai to Pondicherry (Pondy)

Distance – 160 Kms.

Genre – Coastal

You can take the scenic ECR or you can take the GST. Both roads have their benefits. If you take the ECR route, you can stop by at a lot of places (Dakshina Chithra, Crocodile bank, Mahabalipuram). If you start early morning by around 8, you can see all these places and reach Pondy before sunset. The next day you can roam around in Pondy in a relaxed, no hurry manner and start back from Pondicherry on the third day.

My post on Pondy trip

travel, places near chennai

2. Chennai – Pondy – Pichavaram – Tranquebar

Distance – 280 Kms

Genre – Coastal, Historic

First day morning start from Chennai and reach Pondy, chill out in Pondicherry that day. 2nd day morning start from Pondy and head to Pichavaram, less than an hour away.

Pichavaram has only one thing to offer. Boat ride in the mangrove forest. It is humid and hot during the middle of the day. So if you wish to enjoy this place, you need to go in the morning around 9 and the boat ride with get over by 12 or 1 PM. After that you can have lunch in Chidambaram or head to Tranquebar. Tranquebar (known as Tharangambadi) is popular for a Dutch fort which still stands in a good condition. It has a Dutch governor’s house and a Maritime museum. You can have lunch or dinner at a Neemrana hotel there. You can either stay there (bit costly) or stay in a Tamil Nadu house (property maintained by Neemrana) which is cheaper. OR you can just drive back to Pondy that night. 3rd day morning you can look around Pondy or Chill out there and start from Pondy around 3PM and be back in Chennai by 6 PM.

Tranquebar

 

3. Chennai – Masinagudi

Distance – 600 Kms

Genre – Hillstation

The driving is a bit too much, so if you are a road trip enthusiast and have one more driver with you on this trip, it’s better. Masinagudi is a great place to relax, you can go on a jungle safari or just relax in your resort. On your way back you can even stopby ooty and come.

My post on Chennai to Masinagudi Trip

ooty masinagudi

 

4. Chennai – Rameswaram

Distance – 550 Kms

Genre – Historic, temple town, superb beaches

It is a hidden gem, I would say. Not many know about the beautiful, white sand beaches and Dhanushkodi.

My post on Chennai to Rameswaram trip

rameswaram

 

5. Yercaud from Chennai

Distance – 350 Kms

Genre – Hillstation, Trekking

Amazing place for relaxing, superb weather, fresh air. The best thing is it is not even that far away from Chennai. If you are trekking enthusiast, you should really try this place. Rent out a tent-accommodation at Heaven’s Ledge and rent a guide. He will take you through the coffee plantations, through rivers and show you some superb viewpoints. My post on my Yercaud Trip

yercaud trip from chennai

Go. Travel.



Pondy (aka Pondicherry, puducherry) trip! whoa!

I thought Goa was the most beautiful place, but not anymore! I could be wrong, considering the fact that:

  • It’s been an year since I went to Goa (This year’s Goa trip is pending!)
  • I got a lot of time to explore the place and experiment in my newfound passion for photography in Pondy.

Lesson from the trip: The next place you visit is always better than the last place you visited (or the last time you visited the same place)!(considering you return home alive)

Pondy (a.k.a Puducherry, Pondicherry)
It all started when a friend of mine came to my cubicle (yes, in office) and said “My roommate wants to do a trip to Pondy”, I asked “When?” and he said “Now!”.

It was a Friday evening, 6:30, and that’s how our Pondy trip started. I went home, packed my stuff, picked up my camera and we were off. In my friend’s couple-of-weeks old Swift diesel!

The route we took


View Larger Map

Chennai Traffic
Oh!, the Chennai traffic. By the time we got out of Chennai, it was 8:30 PM. We ordered dinner at Dominoes and had it in the car.The route is pasted above, but if for some reason it doesn’t load, use this link.

Travel
Due to the car being new and we driving it at night, we took our time to reach Pondy. The pace increased as soon as we heard from a friend of mine that the bars close (Ya, they close!! even at Pondy) by 11:00 PM. We reached there by 10:50 and the guys were able get some bottles before the shutter was down.

Hotel
We checked into a hotel called Surya International – NOT GOOD. They charged INR 1650 for double-bed room with an extra bed (for three of us) and the place was crap! Since it was late, we decided to bunk there.

Pondy
We put our stuff in the hotel and went to the – where else? – beach, at midnight. I was clicking snaps and friends were holding a bottle each and walking on the beach. Cops!! They said we can’t be at the beach from 12 to 6. So we walked to Le Cafe! YAY. That heritage place is open the whole night!

But we guys were really tired and took a long, peaceful, awesome walk back to the car. By the time we reached our hotel, it was 1:30. We ordered something to eat and slept off by 2 AM.

The best places
Some noise… getting louder. “what, where am I??” thinking that while I got up. Barely awake, switched off the alarm and got out of the bed. It was 5AM. I was determined to get the sunrise and the beautiful Pondy pier! Got up, took the car keys, drove to the beach road (just take any road east in Pondy, you are most  probably going to end up at the beach) (Photos)

The beach
It was beautiful, was just about dawn. Parked the car at the end of the beach road (the end that’s near the Secretariat building) and walked all the way to the pier. Took some shots while waiting for the sun to rise. It got brighter, more brighter and some more and then I realized it’s too cloudy and sun is almost pretty much up and I am not gonna be able to photograph the sunrise.

The Drive around the city
I had a map of Pondy printed out the previous day. I wanted to photograph the French architecture and the old buildings. I drove through almost every street in the French part of Pondy. Such a serene, amazing drive  (not to be compared to the awesome ghat roads we drove through during the Goa road trip, different experience!). Took photos as I went through the quiet roads, past the colorful walls, past the beautiful old building, past the cyclists, past the Rue Saint Louis.

If you were to ever go to Pondy, just take that walk through those streets and believe me, you don’t need any ashram to attain peace.

By the time I was done with all this, I had lost track of time and it was 10 AM. I called my friends who were still sleeping in the hotel. They had gotten up and I went back to the hotel, freshened up, checked out and we guys headed to Chunnambar boat house. We went to the beach by car. Being from Chennai, that beach didn’t quite interest us guys.

Exit
We left from the simmering heat of the beach in 15 minutes and headed back to Chennai!

It was 12:30 PM, Saturday, by the time we exited Pondy.

Yes, I know I haven’t seen all the “tourist” place in Pondy. I am planning another trip and will try to cover more “tourist” places and blog on that later.

All the Pondy photo are available here.

cheers

  • Ad