l To Pondicherry l Pondicherry l
It was an idea that was floating around for some time then, a ride to Kanyakumari. And what best a time for it than the year-end, when people go without any work! Alas, it was not to be… A Christmas holiday that ensured more work for me at office, and no chance of leaves, whatsoever. Prashanth had just shifted to a new company, and couldn’t afford taking any leave.
So when Kudwa asked us if we were ready for a ride, none of us was in a shape of a proper yes, and there was just about 5 days remaining for the planned commencement of the ride! A miracle would take us to Kanyakumari. And when Tuppad agreed for it, there started the temptation, but couldn’t it be for more than three days. I instantly suggested, since only three of us were there, a shorter ride…to….. Pondicherry. And all agreed, as it was a brilliant idea.
Immediately, there started hunt of Pondicherry material on the Internet. We found info such as it was the French paradise on Indian land, from the magnanimous beaches, to the Karma-bhumi of Sri Aurobindo. We found route maps leading to Pondy.
And it was decided that we start early on Saturday and reach there by evening, and start back by Sunday afternoon to Bengalooru. And we prepared our bikes for the journey, Sandeep his Pulsar 150 black, Kudwa his Thunderbird and me, my Pulsar 150 DTSi.
Dec 22nd: Saturday: Sun-rise:
As the Sun was up on his journey westward, we were against him, to the east. Sandeep joined me at Forum, and we both lead our bikes towards e-city, where Ganesh was waiting for us. It was decided that we stop at Krishnagiri for breakfast, and nowhere before. The road was splendid, broad and serene! No traffic at all, all along. Over the mist on the highway, we sped past. As we gained momentum, were greeted by the school-goers in Hossur. I stopped a while at the petrol-bunk, of course to fill in, after Hossur. And I was shell shocked to note the petrol prices, just about so much lesser than the city I live in, only 50KMs down the road!
With the sun-rising, and chillness on ground effing more and more, we ran un-interrupted. Krishnagiri soon arrived. The ride was fantastic as the sight here offered wonderful scenery, with picturesque mountains and lakes every now and then. It was just about 8:45AM when we arrived near Krishnagiri. And a very smart me... flew over as I found the fly-over! In fact, that is a fly-over to avoid the town, we had to turn left and return for about a Kilometer to get to the town, and find a country type hotel, called Vasavi. At a first glance of this old-fashioned city central circle hotel, I felt, somewhere to fill the tummy! But little I knew what was coming, we got a very hospitable server, and the most delicious idlies were already on our plates, ooops, it was a banana-leave breakfast, no plates. After the yummy breakfast, we were up again towards Thiruvannamalai.
Road from Krishnagiri to Thiruvannamalai was not of the standards that we rode till then. It was a normal two-lane two-way traffic road with abundant craters in between. Whatsoever, the road was between the beautiful mountain ranges, valleys of flowers, ponds and lakes of beaky creatures… Nonetheless a wonderful ride was on cards. Tamilunadu offered us more than what we expected out of it.
We were at Thiruvannamalai exactly at 11:30, almost Noon, and since I knew that there was a famous temple here, was just curious to pave a visit. But little did I expect its magnanimous statute!! Wow! What an amazing structure it was…..too huge to be believed. Built by the Chola kings in 12th century, it ranges over some 30 acres of land; it can be a city by itself. The main deity here is Arunachaleshwara, famously called Anna. It is said that Uma, the daughter of Himavanth, performed a penance here to win over Lord Shiva, and marry him further. And so, it is here that Shiva burnt Kamadeva, lord of Love and infatuation. So, the place is referred to as the Agni tatva, where one gets rid of all the kalmasha (impurities) and comes clean. After the darshan, and after having a walk around the temple, we were actually tired.
@ some post cards from Thuruvannamalai temple
We had goli-soda and were not in a position for any meals, decided to head fast and reach Pondy for a late lunch. And past the dangerous curves, and sliding countryside of the Tamil land, we were getting close to a hot area. It was getting hot, and taking a toll on us.
Surpassing Chenchi, and Thindivanam, we crossed the Pondicherry border.
Pondicherry or Puducheri, as the local people call, is a Central administered city in India. Though it is majorly a Tamil populated country, since it was ruled by the French pre-independence, it is now a separate entity.
The French connection of the city is truly amazing. Known as the little France out there, it lives up to its acquired reputation. The Bay of Bengal roars as a testimony to this fact. The French monuments, and buildings, churches, Cafes, French nationals in abundance, French-speaking locals, French names for residential colonies and roads, make us believe that we are indeed in France!!
Well, as we entered, we struggled to get a hotel to fill out, found a sufficiently good one, but there was no meal (Saapaat) available at that hour. It was about 4:25 PM when we stopped for lunch.
Had something that was available, and enquired for the Youth hostel. A Good Samaritan gave me the way diagram, and I religiously followed it to reach the hostel safely. Since we had not booked pre-hand, we were hoping for a room there. And the good uncle over there, called us in to enroll us for a day. We got a big dormitory with 7 beds for our stay. He informed us that there was a guy already in the room, though he was not to be seen around. And we three added to the otherwise an empty room.
Freshened up and started straight away to the Rock beach, the paradise of Pondicherry. This is the French face of the city. We parked our bikes mile away and walked across the mile-long road that was full of visitors, and roar of the Bay of Bengal.
The road has a huge statue of Mahatma Gandhi decorated with lamps at night, and pillars around on a huge platform. It stands on the shore of the beach which hues every second, after another. What a beautiful moment, the night walk on the glamorous beach. The crowd was interesting there as well. The right blends of foreigners and desis, hot girls and cool boys, young and old…you name a category, and we found them then.
We enjoyed the evening with a few gulps of whiskey in an exquisite French looking bar, and a very normal dinner at a seaside hotel. By then it was about 10:15, and the hostel warden’s warning echoed in the ears, hostel closes at 10! We rushed towards the 3KMs far hostel, rang the bell to get admitted again, and to end an enormously beautiful day.
We met our roommate for the first time. He turned out to be a Tamilian, student in some Engineering college in Trichy, and was in Pondy for a project work. An interesting young man, named Iliaz.
Meter read 370 KMS of total ride.
To be continued......