MAHABALIPURAM AND PONDICHERRY PART 2

We reached Pondicherry around 6 in the evening and the auto wallahs were there offering us a drop to beach in just 40 rupees. We pulled out Aj’s phone and checked our location. It was a straight road 2.5 km walk and we decided to walk it and save another 40. I am sure we did earn ourselves some stars from the cheap travelling god above. Blisters on my feet slowed us down to a great extent but we somehow managed to get to Ajantha Beach Guest house. Aj had been in contact with them over last two days and we were awaiting our thousand rupees a night room to welcome us with AC and a shower. When we reached they told us they had not made any bookings in our name and we were asked to take beach view rooms for 1500. We were not having any of this, we walked out.
After walking around a bit we finally cracked a deal at 1200 for a room at the guest house next to it called mother’s guest house. Finally it was time for a bath as Aj enjoyed the bed and AC. Jobin was coming in next day and we were once more searching for better accommodation. We decided on an apartment which Aj had cancelled this morning. It was now on me to get it on the price we wanted. Though I would have loved 1500 apartment we settled to pay 1800 for the apartment and it was a blessing.
Bhel puri with curry
1st night @ Promenade with chaat

Jobin was coming at 5 in the morning and we barely had any sleep after that. We walked out to greet sun on the promenade. Did I forget to tell you that the guest house was a stone’s throw from the beach?

Le cafe

We had a latte at Le Cafe but they were not serving breakfast. Though hungry we were happy as it would dig a hole albeit small in our pockets. It used to be old port office for Pondicherry port. After our coffe and a glass of herbal drink from a local vendor for the boys it was time to freshen up and leave for the ne accommodation.

Our Apartment

Once we had checked out we started on foot for the apartment and breakfast. Adamant to have local food, we walked 2kms to our meeting point with the person who would take us to the apartment. We called him up and he would come in soon. Finally we saw a ‘bandi’ it served awesome idlis and puri. We dug into our breakfast of awesome local cuisine and ended up paying 45/- for our more than filling meal. A cup of tea later we found Mr. Ashok who took us to the cute apartment which was to house us for next two days. He left after supplying us with two water bottles and soaps, only to meet us after two days.

Blessed????
Introducing Jobin

Jobin really liked the place, we all did. The best part about it was that we did not have to worry about anything no rules no in and out times and we could make ourselves some food. After stocking up with raw materials for our breakfast and snacks for next few days we started for the Mission Street. This is perhaps the best street to find anything in Pondi and has some popular places on it. We had to get bikes for ourselves and meet Jobin’s friend Harish for lunch. We got bikes for 200 a day and were quite proud of the deal for two red non geared scootys. Harish met us at Sri Krishna and we ended up at Surguru for lunch.

On the way to Matrimandir
Visitor’s centre

Both of these are quite famous in Pondi it seems, you can find them on trip advisor too. I had really wanted to visit kasha ki asha coz of good reviews on trip advisor but none of us were really feeling like Italian. I had masala dosa and puri. Mini meals are the things to order if u want to eat a bit more and try a few varieties. Taking directions from Harish we started for Auroville.

To sya that Jobin had once lived in auroville for six months is a joke. He remembers absolutely nothing and was as good as us in guessing which turn to take. Eventually we reached the visitor’s centre parked our rides and walked to the centre to see the video and get our passes for the Matri Mandir. I was disappointed that we will not be able to go inside the mandir but will only be able to see it from afar. After having a neembu paani at the cafe we started on our way to Matri mandir. Believe me it is a long walk in the heat no matter what they say. We filled up our bottles again and missed Gatorade to take us through the heat.
@ view point
Hot Pizzeria
Me trying to make vortex in the bottle

The view point is a beautiful area and you can see a lot of work still remains to be done. After chatting away we started back to the visitor’s centre and drove on to have a look at the solar kitchen which was closed. On the roof is the solar cafe but you need to be a member of have a member there to order anything so we decided to make a move. We stopped at dinesh’s thadi/tea shop (I hope I have the name right) which Jobin magically remembered from five years ago. Another surprise was people there remembered him. A refreshing drink and we were off to find the pizzeria which was to serve us our dinner.

If you think only Italians can do wood fire pizzas visit here? It’s barely a shack run by a family and you will find akka taking your order and serving delicious and large pizzas freshly made. I had wanted to ask them if they use homemade cheese but did not get around to. While coming from solar kitchen towards ECS via dinesh’s tea stall look out for the ‘Hot Pizzeria’board. Turn into the small street park your vehicles and eat away. We ended up ordering a personal size vegetarian for me and a medium for the boys. The pizzas are huge and easily filled us all up.
My pizza
Their’s 

We were sue to return the bikes in another 3 hours so we drove back to the promenade and took an evening stroll. The beach is awesome it feels as if you are witnessing a family retreat for the locals. With quite a few thelas you can have some chaat but beware they put curry in the bhel puri, which is not so tasty. After returning the bike back we walked home and sat down to rest and make plans for the next day.

Shared auto to the beach
salt pans
Enroute Kadpakkam

Harish had told us to catch a bus to ‘Kalpakkam’ to visit the Alambarai fort and beach. We started at around 11 from home. Caught a bus from Canal Street to take us to the bus stand and caught a bus to Kalpakkam. Now listen very carefully when they say tamil city names they are not that different. While enjoying the salt pans and scenery Jobin saw a sign saying Alambarai Fort and thank god he did. We were to get to Kadapakkam not Kalapakkam. Distance between the two is around 100kms.

Fort and beach

Me and Jobin has already had snack when the bus stopped a few minutes ago for a rest. So we looked around for a way to get to the beach 3km away from the highway. We found a shared auto paid him 10 pp and reached the beach. Fort is nothing more than the boundary wall so don’t expect much but the beach is awesome. I have had very few encounters with the ocean and I had never seen the junction of sea and backwaters; one calm and other with waves crashing. It was beyond beautiful. We had a great time with some kids who were body surfing on a log and now it was time to head back.

Kids
Aj with the kids
Fort ruins by Jobin

There are no facilities for changing or toilets on the beach though you can buy drinking water just outside. Other visitors were arriving as we left. We reached the highway and I bought a slipper finally as I had already broke Aj and my slippers and the jaipur mojdis were a no-no due to the blister they had given me. We had lunch at a shack serving dosas and egg products. Totalled up to 110 this was perhaps the cheapest we had to pay for lunch.

The shack
Our Lunch

We caught a bus and rushed to the apartment to get a bath so that we can move out to get some local sea food for dinner which jobin really wanted. A little help from just dial we found ourself wandering around on Bharthi Street looking for Pattuma restaurant. After quite a walk through the busiest streets ofPondi we finally found it. the food there was awesome. We ordered parotha, prawn masala, chicken tikka, mix-veg, jeera rice and got the raitha complimentary. I have to say these were the best parothas I have ever tasted. Harish and another friend joined us later. He ordered Ceylon paratha which turned out to be a nice surprise and according to him was really good.

Next day it was time to make a move to Chennai and then off to Hyderabad for us and Bangalore for Jobin. This time we decided to get an AC bus. Jobin got some food packed and we got on the bus reading our time away. We reached Chennai in three and a half hours and had our lunch at the CMBT.  We reached central in 15B and now we had to wait. We said our goodbyes and walked over to our train which was waiting for us on the platform.
Expenditure in Pondicherry (3 days)
Accomodation                                                                                   1800/-
Bike rent and petrol                                                                        200/-
Bus to kadpakkam and back                                                        86/- (we over payed while going to kadpakkam)
Shared autos and bus (Pondi and Alambarai)                      35/-
Food and other misclenaeous expenditure                          1000/-
Bus to Chennai                                                                                  190/-
Bus to central                                                                                    9/-
Total                                                                                         3320/-

Tip: If you are hiring a bike for just one day don’t fill up for more than 75 (1L) of petrol you can’t really use it all. Also take care while driving it can be challenging.

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