Tuesday 23 June 2015

Pondicherry - The french feeling

If you don't drink and someone says "Pondicherry is only for people who drink" then just don't listen to them and leave to the destination. And if you drink then you need no other reason to travel to Pondicherry :-)

Not a right destination for your summer vacation since it would simply spoil a few days of your holiday in spite of being beautiful. Because the sun here is so hot that you feel the skin getting burnt when you ride or walk. The temperature does not come down even in the evenings. Hence plan it during right time. Right time could be just before monsoon or post monsoon but before summer. Check the weather forecast and plan your trip since weather plays a major role in the pleasure you can get in this trip. 

Me and 3 other friends made a quick plan and decided the destination as Pondicherry. To make it economical yet comfortable, tried for tatkal tickets in train and we were lucky enough to get it. We had not booked for accommodation and hence we 1st took bikes for rent and checked a couple of hotels and finally checked in to a hotel near Rocky beach road (1500 INR for 4 People ) You can find some good stay for lesser amount if  you go inside the city.

Pondicherry is a good location for a weekend trip and you can cover all the places in 2 days. The places you should consider visiting here should be decided based on your interest and if you are interested in a good beach side stay then just pack your luggage and go! There are more things that you can do in Pondicherry. Meditation in MatruMandir could be something that would interest a few. But if you want to meditate, then you need to contact them a few days prior and book a slot! I am not a guy who finds peace by sitting silent inside a closed building, so not my area of interest. 

Major places to visit in Pondicherry

The beach Road/Rocky beach
The best location of entire Pondicherry. Very neatly maintained, very well planned and the major tourist attraction. Lies parallel to the French colony. Most of the major tourist attractions lie next to the beach road and hence a good option to stay as well. 
The Gandhi Statue and War memorial are present here and are pretty good ones. 
An evening walk here is a must if you are visiting Pondicherry. Late night walk, or chat near beach road can be pleasant. 
We got up early in the morning to see the sunrise since beach side sunrise would be special but unfortunately the cloud played as a spoil sport!

Be informed that you cannot play in beach side here. This place is just to feel the waves in your eyes and ears and have a walk and talk.

The French Colony and the Old City
Entire old city can be considered as French colony and you can get a French feel in the old city. The cleanliness, the french architecture kind of buildings, the shops, the name plates all give the French feel and a ride in entire city will be great.

The Paradise Beach
The touristic beach of Pondicherry. Lot of tourists here and the authorities have created decent facilities too. A protected beach with life guards etc. Nice place to play but limited area of sea is allowed for public. Cannot go more than 10-20 Meters as barriers are put and guards blow whistle if you go beyond. But advantage is you have place to change cloths, take bath in fresh water etc. The beach is open only till 5.30 since the last boat from here leaves at 5.30. Other facilities like Kayaking, fast boat, Jet ski etc. are available as well. Can spend good half a day here.

The Museum, Library, Garden and Arbindo Ashram
The places can act as fillers in the gap available. Museum is decent but only if you are interested in seeing some old age stones, coins etc. Only Vishwas from our group went to Library and he spent some time there. Meanwhile me, Abhilash and Charan went to the Famous Church near by. 
The Bharati Park (Garden) lies in the center of all these places and one can definitely pay a short visit. Arbindo ashram has the 'Samadhi' of Sri Arbindo and people come here to pay tribute. Even though the name is ashram, you get just a few minutes to visit the samadhi and if you want you get to buy books etc. No other activities can be done here and it would take hardly 15 mins to visit the place. 

Auraville is a place which most foreigners visit considering its spiritual importance and since that is one of the high profile centres of India for the study of Yoga, Meditation etc. The architecture of MatruMandir looks great but only those who have booked for a meditation will get a chance to enter. The place is good if it interests you. If not it will definitely bore you to the core. The whole area is built within a forest kinda and it looked both like a business center and a center of study for me.

There is a beach near the main road from where you take deviation to Auraville and its a good place to play for sometime. But no security and life guards and the beach looks little dangerous too.  

The Ashram Guest Houses for stay in Pondicherry
Ashram guest houses are pretty good we heard but they have a lot of rules to be followed. If you are planning a family trip and you go by your own vehicle, (yes - They don't provide parking for other vehicles and they don't provide stay for your drivers, no drinking smoking and drugs etc. Gate closes at 10.30. If you are fine with all these, Park Guest house at the starting of the Beach road is a good option considering the price and the location. Cant beat the location of the guest house..!)

The Old city Vs New City
Old is gold here! And new is pathetic. If you wish to cherish the cleanliness of the pondicherry city and not even want to think that even Pondicherry is not clean, then do not visit new city. New city is as bad as it can be. Whole lot of waste being dumped all around, people urinating in every place they feel like and what not. But the old city is being maintained very neat and clean. Not many shops available here and probably that's one of the reasons for the city to be maintained clean :) 

Overall I would recommend Pondicherry for your weekend getaway for the French feel it gives. Do try some French restaurant. KFC,Dominos and other restaurants can be tried on any weekend in Bangalore. Have a good walk in calm streets of old city. Take bikes for rental have some good rides and what else do you want to have a good weekend :) Avoid going to new city unless you want to spoil your image of the clean Pondicherry. (For people who love shopping, there is a Sunday Bazar which looked like commercial street so we just turned back from there.)

How to Reach
People suggest that drive to Pondicherry will be great however I do not have an idea hence no comments on that part. Buses and trains are available and you get bikes for rent there hence roaming around in Pondicherry is not a big deal (Take a local map which comes in handy to you when you roam. Believe me its better than google maps when in Pondicherry. Every location and roads are listed and tracking is pretty easy in those maps)

Aura Ville Beach
Near Rocky Beach
Bharathi Garden 

Paradise Beach

Near Beach Road Port area

Matru Mandir Aura Ville (You can only see this from a distance but not go inside)

Beach Road

Jet Ski in Backwaters of Paradise Beach

Thursday 4 June 2015

Tatte Kere

Due to my Masters Degree final report and my last few days of internship and mainly because of the bright weekends of summer, I had not gone for a ride for a long time. Be it a short or long ride, it was long time since I woke up early in the morning at all. And this place - Tatte Kere was pending for more than a year.

Had some free time during my break just before joining the new company. But did not have enough time to plan for a long trip too. So was looking for some place near by. Decided for rides near by and 1st one was Mekedatu. I am not tired visiting this place over and over again. Another was Tatte Kere. Searched internet for any pointers but hardly got any good ones but just got to know that its a elephant hub and is one of the sources of water for all elephants of Raagalli Betta of Bannerghatta range.

I had a wish to see some elephants free in the wild, coming to drink water to this lake. But, realized only on visiting that not everyday elephants visit here and they visit only during particular time. So the day I visited, I had no luck. But the place looks serene and I wish I had reached a little early so that I could get a few good photos. But nevertheless, it was a nice ride.

Tatte Kere is a small village and the village got the name from the lake. It's huge lake covered all around by forests. On the way to the lake and near lake we can find variety of birds and bird photographers can mark this place for sure. If not around the lake, the route to the lake (from around 10 Kms to Tatte Kere the entire road both the sides have forest and hence variety of birds can be spotted)

Once you reach the village, ask people to guide you to the lake. They guide you to go to a temple near by and you hardly find anyone near temple. Esp early in the morning. A road goes just behind the temple. 200 Meters from there is the lake. You can take your vehicle till the lake however, better not if its during rainy season and better not to pollute the lake.

The lake is being used by numerous animals of the forest but that has not stopped people from throwing plastic and beer bottle all around! Such an irony that people dont mind carrying heavy beer/drinks bottle to the place but bother carrying empty bottles back. Do take care of the place if you are visiting.

How to reach?

There are 2 routes as far as I know. One through Kanakapura road and another via Jigani (Jigani can be reached via Bannerghatta or via Electronic City)

Reach Jigani Circle either Via Electronic City or Bannerghatta (from Bannerghatta take left and ride further for 6 kms to reach Jigani Circle.) If you are travelling from Bannerghatta then take right from Jigani Circle and Tatte Kere is around 15 Kms from there. The road here passes through villages and forest hence the road condition is not that great. Ask villagers help to reach Tatte Kere or use Google Maps (It works.!!)

Butterfly from a flock near lake

The tatte Kere

Tatte Kere

Custerd apple from a tree found nearby