Sit back and relax… its Pondy, photo essay by Debaditya Das
Pondicherry (now Puducherry) is a popular destination in India and known for its coastal beauties, lifestyles and long heritage. The largest city of the Indian union territory has a long history of being colonized by several western invaders like Dutch, Portuguese, British and French. The French influence is still very prominent in the city in terms of building architectures and roads in the area known as “White Town”.
Pondicherry is renowned for its beaches and draws tourists from across the globe. Being situated at the sea level, the coastal regions of the city often gets affected due to natural calamities and the beaches get eroded. Because of the limited time, I could only visit few beaches and places there and the first one in that list was the Serenity beach which seemed quite clean with huge rocks making the boundaries in rest part of the beach. Numerous grounded fishing boats and piled up fishing nets are a common scenario here which catches the eyes for sure. The Promenade beach is probably one of the longest accessible beach located right at the heart of the city and showcases a number of heritage buildings and monuments like Mahatma Gandhi statue, French war memorial, Dupleix statue, and Legislative assembly. A stroll through the by-lanes parallel to the Promenade beach will give an essence of the French architecture as this popularly known “White Town” consists of traditional grey and orange buildings with large French style windows. Around the Promenade beach and specially in “White Town” one can find a number of good eateries with a varied cuisine starting from French, Italian to Indian, Thai, Chinese and lot more. Founded by the freedom-fighter and spiritual philosopher, Sri Aurobindo, his Ashram, located in this area is a place of absolute tranquillity and ideal for meditation and rejuvenation.
Another beach that we explored is known as Paradise beach which is only accessible by boat through Chunnambar backwater. Boat houses and the rows of coconut trees in the backdrop are spectacular sights and a good way to explore the surrounding areas. Paradise beach truly stand by its name and is one of the cleanest beach that I have seen so far. Numerous thatched roofed shades have been constructed for tourists to sit back, relax and enjoy the gorgeous Bay of Bengal. The sea in this part of the coast is quite rough and therefore strict vigilance and high penalty are in place to prevent any undesired accidental events as people tend to go into the water or swim. We visited Pondy amidst the warning of cyclone Vardah which bady hit Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu in December 2016, and Pondy being adjacent to Chennai also was partly affected. We visited the Paradise beach just the day before Vardah had hit the coast and therefore, the sea was already very rough and dangerous at that time than it usually is. If you are in Pondy, I would strongly recommend visiting this beach.
The Auroville (City of Dawn), is a concept township, located 8 km north-west of Pondicherry encourages people from across the globe to live there in a peaceful environment far away from the hassles of their usual lives. “Matrimandir” (Mother’s Temple), situated within the Auroville complex is a meditation hall specially constructed to hold hundreds of visitors at a time. Apart from this the Botanical garden is also a nice place to relax. A leisurely stroll through the wide varieties of old trees calms the tired mind and fills in with loads of positive energies.
(by Debaditya Das)