“Forget Goa or Kerala this holiday season,” suggested Rajini Pandit my sister in law, “Go to Pondy instead and you will enjoy the difference.” So boarding a Sharma transport bus at 9:30pm from Bangalore, we arrived rather early at 4:30 am in Pondicherry. We had travelled lightly with overnight cases with just tee’s shorts and floaters rather than very formal wear. They were the best in sticky and humid coastal Pondicherry. However we found it’s rather nice and romantic to dress for dinner as we lived in the swish Kailash Beach resort in Purnankuppam village 10 kms away from the city.
“ Pondicherry” is the French interpretation of the original name ‘Puducheri’ which means new settlement. The history of Pondicherry dates back to the vedic era when it was known as Vedapuram or the seat of knowledge. Pilgrims used the town on their way to the temple town of Rameshwaram, thus enriching its culture.
Raj Condappa the owner of the Kailash Beach resort hails from an old Pondicherry family. He has built a dream of a getaway and caters to a huge cross section of travellers with a lot of them coming in from Europe. The resort sprawls over a huge area and boasts of every conceivable luxury one could desire. However what is interesting is that inspite of the resort being a new structure, Raj has furnished the whole place in a totally traditionally Indian style with colonial furniture.
At night strategically placed lights make the place a fairyland. The resort is built almost on the beach and though the gate is locked always, the security will allow one access to take a dip in the waves. Don’t be too disappointed if the beach is not the pristine white sands one is used to in Goa and a dip of one’s toes in the ocean is the maximum possible!
“To experience the spirit of Pondicherry it is essential to walk through the old town and observe the unusual architectural traditions,” explains Raj. “Take the Heritage Walk brochure for the map and go,” he advises. We noticed two distinct parts, the French and the Tamil. The French quarter had buildings in the European classical style, whereas the buildings in the Tamil quarter were in the vernacular style of Tamilnadu.
The resultant blend of both styles in subsequent buildings is harmonious and very interesting. Naturally the French buildings have been adapted to suit the climate with flat terraced roofs. High walled in gardens made the buildings intriguing and had us peeping through openings curious to see the pretty patios and gardens inside.
Nothing unusual either in finding the local populace can only converse in either French or Tamil not English! All the streets are called ‘Rue’ which is street in French, like the Rue de la Marine on which the Shri Aurobindo Ashram stands.
Before you leave Pondicherry don’t forget to pick up some Puducheri Bommai or plaster of Paris dolls, the pride of Pondy’s handicraft industry or delightful hand paper lamps.
For details contact: Kailash Beach Resort, Poornankuppam Village, Ariankuppam Commune, Pondicherry - 605007 Phone: 0413-2618836,2618400
Access: 10km from the center of Pondicherry on the way to Cuddalore.