I never thought I would ever visit this small city in South India, Pondicherry. There is a famous ritual in India, the Mundan ceremony. Mundan is shaving of the head of a child usually when he/she is one year old. My family and I went to the Velankanni shrine in Tamil Nadu to perform that ritual with my niece. Velankanni is a small town that has the most beautiful church of our lady and is always crowded with believers and worshippers. While we were on a road trip from Theni – Velankanni – Pondicherry to Dindigul I met a lot of locals who shared every bit of their lifestyle here in Tamil Nadu.
“You know I have always loved being a part of the local community that motivates me to travel more. People all over the world keep asking me how do I afford to travel so much, so let me share two of my best budget travel tips blogs with you.”
We landed at the Chennai airport and took a car on rent for the rest of our trip. Meeting our relatives at Theni, we went to Velankanni to accomplish the purpose for which we were there. Velankanni Shrine is just 500 meters away from the Velankanni beach which was among the worst hit by the massive 26 December tsunami that was triggered by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. It took months for the Shrine to get built again and it was back for its worshippers.
After finishing up with our Ceremony, the next morning we left for Pondicherry. It was a 4-hour drive from the Shrine. While we were on our way, we decided to take a stop at the Pichavaram Mangrove forest. It was a one-hour boat ride into the mangrove forest.
After another 2 hours drive, we were in Pondicherry. We had our stay at Auroville. Auroville is an experimental community in South India with an aim to create a town where people from all over the world could live in harmony. Its focal point is the Matrimandir, a futuristic, spherical temple covered in gold discs which are still under construction. Auroville also has land with few homestays called Tanto’s far beach resort and a private way to the Auroville beach where you can sit and relax after a long tiring day. This space has French people working with them as a manager and caretakers who have traveled all over the world and have stayed here to live a peaceful life. You can book your stay with Tanto Far beach resort here.
The next day we went to the Matrimandir taking a 1km walk from the base. At the base, you will get to see a video that talks about Matrimandir and the community, Auroville. You will also get to know about the building and the surrounding plan of Matrimandir which is still under construction. Auroville has a famous French cafe called Tanto Pizzeria that serves excellent French and Italian food. It’s also very famous for the incredible range of pizzas they make. I was there after my visit to the Matrimandir.
Pondicherry also has the most famous French bakeries in the French colony. So let me go one by one. French colony or White Town is an area of French quarters that was built years ago, and many French people live there. If you are an Indian and you haven’t been to France yet, no worries, be here for now. The French architecture of the houses, of the hotels and the homestays, will make you go crazy and you would want to capture every window, every door, every home, and every lane. Just opposite the outer path of the French colony is the Rock Beach.
There is a vast market area just at the French colony where you will find everything that you would love to take back home. If you read all my blogs, you would have guessed till now that what would I have bought from there. Haha, I keep adding to my fridge magnet collection. And of course, I couldn’t resist myself from eating at the French bakeries.
The next morning we went to the Paradise. Like other beaches, this beach is not easy to reach. You first need to buy a ticket for Rs 300 for your boat ride, then get on the boat for a 25 minutes journey to the beach, and you are there. This beach is the cleanest of all the beaches I have ever seen in south India, of course, because it has been preserved so well. From where the boat drops you, you need to walk a few meters to reach the sand area. The moment you reach there, you will see only three things, the clear sand, the clear water and the clear sky and trust me it’s heavenly just like its name, PARADISE.
That was all about my trip. Watch this video that summarizes my travel in 3.5 minutes. Get to know Velankanni and Pondicherry closely.