Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pondicherry Trip & Auroville Marathon: For the Joy of Running

After day long work, I caught Friday evening train to Puducherry {a.k.a Pondicherry} from Bangalore at 9.30pm from Banaswadi, remote railway station that looked more like a small 2 bhk home! Hotel Corbelli in Pondicherry was my home for next couple of days, a decent budget hotel in Mission Street. This street houses many eateries and is very accessible to everything in Pondy. Town was so intuitive in itself that just after spending couple of hours there, I was aware of most of map, thanks to localities as well for being very accommodative and helpful {they even spoke French here!}. Right opposite to hotel was Hotel Bombay Anand Bhavan where I had my first of many tasty meals at Pondi and that set the tone for the tour!
Matrimandir of Auroville

#Auroville Marathon was in it’s 8th edition on 8th of February, amazingly beautiful trail midst the greenery and at the "universal township" of Auroville, known as “City of Dawn”, 8 km from Pondicherry, run by Sri Aurobindo Society to realize human unity and where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The place stands for every word mentioned above! Auroville marathon, one of biggest run, runs through their textile, handloom, handicraft, food industries and Matrimandir {amazing architecture and breeze of calmness hits you here}, and ofcourse constant encouragement from the residents & volunteers, was very satisfying.
Paradise Beach Island Clicked from the Boat

I ran 10k that started at 7am in the morning and with constant drum pepping & energizers, clocked 59min, which anyway doesn't matter since every runner is a winner here. Kudos to organizers and fellow runners who ran for “Joy of Running”. I look forward to run half marathon next year! If you love running, then do run in Auroville Marathon, it is indeed a must thing to do in life!
French Colony

#Aurobindo Ashram was very peaceful and was amazed with the natural flora. We parked our Activa’s, which we had hired for 225 INR per day to roam around Pondi, and took the famous stroll in the famous French colony, which was just-incredible & felt out of place! Don’t forget to visit Museum, Bharati Park that has Monument called Aayi Mandapam {interesting story behind it, to know- you have to visit museum!} and Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple- all in walking vicinity.

#Beach Road visit in evening hours is pure bliss. Take a walk and explore French Consulate, French War Memorial, Seaside Promenade, Statue of Dupleix, Secretariat offices and Gandhi Statue. It reminded me of Marina Drive of Mumbai for sure! 

Gandhi Statue in Beach Road
#Churches are quite old here are surely one time visit. Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus near railway station, Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Mission Street and Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges near Beach Road- I visited all of them, surprisingly, when the mass was going-on!

#Arikamendu took me by surprise. There was no one when I went there and finding way was nightmare/super fun. Romans had come here in 2BC to trade and now houses ruins of a house like structure. I was fascinated with whatever was remaining and could feel the energy that could have been possibly existed here, previously/historically!

#Paradise Beach is 20min boat ride away from Chunnambar Boat House. This had flavor of Goa. Only a part of Beach was open to public, rest looked like encroached by resorts there. Nevertheless, thumbs-up for it’s ambience and boat ride!
Arikamedu Ruins

#Serenity Beach and #Auro Beach are surely one time visit with lovely crystal clear blue waters and long sand shore with beautiful sea shells.

#Botanical Gardens was a dudd and I didn’t enjoy much, thanks to it’s poor maintenance and “Under Construction” banner everywhere!

#Food was just brilliant! Must haves from whatever I had: Chocolate Pakora at Zuka, Wooden pan fired Pizza at Cafe Xtasi, Ferrero Roche shake at The Indian Kaffe Express, Special Thali at Surguru. Masala milk at KBS Kofi bar and Ghee Dosa at Bombay Anand Bhavan

{Thanks to Rashmika for being co-planner and co-executer. Thanks to TripAdvisor for suggestions. Special thanks to auto-drivers of Pondy for their generosity}