The Indian East Coast was something that was pending on my “been there” check-list. Somehow it had always evaded me. However this time my engineering classmate figured out a time slot and an itinerary in the early Feb. The plan was a road trip from Bangalore, in his humble Wagon-R.
First stop was Auroville, the calm green roads of the place were indicative of what was to come next in the Auroville Visitor’s centre. This place was more of a modern temple, with twisting walkways passing through trees surrounded by boards / placards depicting the history of Auroville. This was an extreme foreign visitor magnet along with tourists. Most enjoying the cafes, patisseries and ice-cream bars more than the history and the soul of Auroville.
What amazed me more in Auroville and adjoining places, is the abundance of bakeries, cafes and gelato ice-cream bars. Its not that they are one of ” just another bakery”, No, ie I had breakfast at the famous Auroville Bakery, it was awesome, the price was well with reach of locals, rather the Indian food was cheap and other croissants, rolls were well within the bounds of reality.
Pondicherry / Puducherry
Pondi, the affectionate call for Pondicherry or Puducherry has one major attraction – The White town. The southern part of Pondi has a canal running North – South. The west side of the canal (away from the beach) belonged to the native Indians during the French colonial rule while the East part belonged to the French (the “white”). This was the prime area overlooking the beach lashed by turquoise waters of Bay of Bengal. The white town, had a very distinct feel to it. The first thing that hits you is cleanliness and the roads. Very clean, well paved and clearly marked roads. A lot of trees along the roads, trimmed and flowering Bougainvillea. Next noticeable feature of this part, are its bungalows / houses. All of them clean and white-washed with distinct blue or dark-gray bordering. The houses had either a white or a typical yellow colour, more like chrome-yellow. The bungalows on the junctions had a clear blue colored board with white lettering, “Rue Dupuy”, “Rue Romain Rolland” and so on. For a non-french learned like me, what is Rue? My friend mentioned that its “street” in French.
We had our lunch at the “Le Cafe”. Keeping same expectations of Auroville Bakery, we were truly disappointed. The food was average, it was cold and it was pricey. However it seemed the French had a special love for this one and came in by flocks. Complacency?
While we roamed around and along the promenade by the beach, we saw loads of visitors in awe of the place, snapping at any flatly yellow colored building. I wasn’t sure if its just the cleanliness of the area that fascinated people. Across the channel, the Tamil town, was just another busy day with hustle and bustle of vehicles and people alike.