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Holiday in Pondicherry May 5, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in Auroville, hidesign, Kailash Beach Resort, Le Cafe, Pondicherry, Promenade, Satsanga.

My wife and I, took advantage of the long weekend and zoomed to Pondicherry. Our last vacation seemed like a million years ago, so we thought of making the most out of this one! Since, I am in Chennai for a couple of months, we gathered that we may not ever get such a good opportunity to visit Pondicherry ever again.

We drove down to Pondy, which is at a distance of about 150 kms from Chennai, along the extremely scenic East Coast Road (ECR). The alternate route is through NH 45. It took us about 2.5 hours to reach Pondy, and then about 30 minutes to reach our destination, which was a little out of Pondy.

The idea was to spend 2 nights and 3 days in Pondicherry, and be back in Chennai on Sunday evening. April to September is typically off season for Pondy. After some research, we booked our stay in the Kailash Beach Resort, about 12 kms out of Pondy, on the Cuddalore road. I must say, that I was not expecting anything great as far as accommodation was concerned, but boy was I surprised when I reached Kailash and checked in! The resort is spread over an area of about 8 acres, beautifully landscaped with a extensive green cover and a plethora of colorful flowers! The resort is complete with facilities for massage, a exotic looking swimming pool, and excellent cuisine. Needless to say, I was more interested in the Bar. But before that, I had to dump our luggage in the room. There was another surprise awaiting us there. The rooms here were very clean, extremely spacious, tastefully decorated and practically furnished.

Kailash advertises itself as an eco resort, and consequently there was no TV or fridge in the room, neither of which we really missed having. The best part of the entire stay was the excellent service. Everyone in the resort always had a nice smile, and was eager to help. The restaurant serves a variety of cuisines- Italian, French and Indian. Their Chocolate Mousse, has been the best I have ever had, anywhere in the world. Simply par excellence.

Now the best part – the Bar. At the Kailash Beach Resort, attention has been paid to the details. The bar is tastefully decorated, gorgeous with a very simplistic décor. The bar man- Shankar, knows his drinks well, and can make a fantastic Mojito. Just 5 steps from the bar, is the swimming pool, and one can leisurely sip on their drinks by the pool side. Aah. Bliss. This is what heaven must be like!
The pictures on the website do no justice to what the resort actually has to offer.

The Kailash Beach resort comes highly recommended for anyone who plans a trip to Pondy, and does have car/bike to get back to the main city. And yes, don’t forget to get your own toothpaste, as the resort does not supply any.

Once comfortably settled on the first day, we decided to explore the city. Since we reached a little late, we did not have sufficient time to explore the streets, so we went directly for dinner. “The Lighthouse” at the Promenade, a Hidesign hotel, was highly recommended for its ambience and food. The ambience lived up to the hype, but sadly the food missed by a long shot. The setting is perfect for a candlelight dinner, with the twinkling sky above, and the sea in front. Only if the food was half as good as the setting! Alas, no. the menu was limited, the service poor, and the food ordinary. Safe to say, I am going to avoid it next time. Maybe drop in for a beer in the evening or something. Nothing more. We paid Rs. 1100 for a meal comprising of a starter – Jamaican Jerk Chicken (very spicy, and not out of this world), some strudel (Very ordinary), a bottle of beer, a Daiquiri and a Vodka (Small) and Sprite. I miss that money.

At the end of day one, we were smug in our wise (and lucky) choice of the accommodation, and tipsy from the fine liquor.

Day 2

Early morning we decided to hit Auroville after breakfast. We had heard a lot about this international city dedicated to the cause of unity and brotherhood amongst all of mankind. But only after breakfast. Well, we were in for yet another surprise. Excellent spread of breakfast. Fruits, freshly squeezed juices, Eggs – the way you like them, Idli, vada, Cornflakes. Exceedingly refreshing.

After a hearty breakfast, we left for Auroville. Now this was on the other side of Pondy, towards Chennai. Both of us are not too much into meditation and all, but we had heard good stuff about the Maitri mandir at Auroville. It took us about 45 minutes just to reach Auroville, along dusty roads, that pass through countless villages. Finally, without too much of a trouble we found Auroville. There was an exhibition about Auroville, and a small video also. But frankly speaking, I could not figure out much about the underlying philosophy. So after getting the free visitors passes from the exhibition center, we made our way to the Maitri mandir, the star attraction, the main meditation center. The signage indicated our path to be shady and the walk to be about 10-12 minutes, but in the blistering heat, it took us a good 20-25 minutes to reach, and by the time we reached, around 12:45, the place was ready to be shut for the next couple of hours. After a little goading we were permitted to enter, walk another 5 minutes and see the Maitri Mandir. It is a beautiful structure, a very well thought of design, but a little spooky for me. It looks like a giant golf ball, ready to be hit any minute. We spent 5 minutes there, gazing at the large ball like thing, and walked back. Exhausted from the long walk in the sun, we were very close to losing our sanity and become like dried fish. Only the thought of a glass of chilled beer made us endure the next 30 minutes.

We left Auroville, stopped to buy some shorts and the loose t-shirts, change, and headed straight for Satsanga.

Satsanga, is a French and Italian restaurant, established in the backyard of old house. The setting was very cheery, multi colored cushions adorning the seats, and they served the best chilled draught beer in town. We had a Zatziki (Excellent), Chicken Kebabs (good) and Chicken in Red Wine Sauce (ok ok) accompanied with lots and lots of beer. J. It is priced fairly for the equality and quantity it offers. Our total bill for the entire meal, the three dishes and 4 glasses (330ml) of beer was about Rs. 826. Not bad.

We had decided to have dinner in the Resort, as that ways we could drink to our hearts content and not have to drive. But before we went to the resort, we stopped at the Chunammbar Resort, hoping to get a boat ride on the Chunammbar river to the Paradise Island. But when we reached, the trip to the beach was already closed for the day. So we made it back to the resort, with time enough to spare for a quick dip in the beach, which was about 200 meters away from the resort. This beach, I don’t know the name, is not very swimmable. Most of the beaches in Pondy are not for swimming, only gazing! The tides were too strong, the sand too coarse, and the water full of shells, one of which pricked me in the foot. So, not really recommended for swimming.

After spending about 30 minutes on the beach, we went back to our room, cleaned up, ordered tea followed by Sprite. I had already bought some liquor from the city, and we had a couple of drinks in the room before raiding the bar. Like I said the bar was well stocked, the bar man knowledgeable, and the setting perfect. We lay next to the pool on the beach beds, devoured our drinks and starters, had pasta for dinner and chocolate mousse for dessert. The total bill was a thousand bucks which included one large and one small Bacardi with coke, one small Signature with coke, a Mojito, a chicken starter, Spaghetti Bolognese and Chocolate mousse. Happy ending to a happy day. J

Day 3

Time to leave. Went to the beach at 7 am. Had a gorgeous breakfast, again, went for a dip in the resort pool, and checked out at 11 am. Total damage, including room tariff, food, drinks tips, Rs. 8300.

Once we left the resort, we cruised along the beach road, and stopped for coffee at Le Café- a Pondicherry Tourism Development Board restaurant. This was probably the best setting for an afternoon snack. The vast blue expansive sea in front of us, a cool breeze caressing us and the smell of the ocean wafting in! Sea facing tables, excellent menu, and superb service was like a cherry on the top. I had a Grilled Tomato and Basil Baguette (vegan) and my wife had a chicken salad, and lemonade for each of us. We topped all of this with a cheese cake. Bill about Rs 400.
And it was finally time to say good bye to Pondy. We left contented of a long week end well spent.

Resort Bill –Rs 8300, Car and fuel – Rs 3000. A Happy holiday and a happier wife – Priceless.