Has always been one of my dream destinations and I have always wondered when will the time come to tick off this beautiful place from my list of 'to visit'.
The time came when fate sent us to the South. So, after settling in, the first long, road trip that we planned was to Pondicherry. Driving on the Karnataka highway is a dream. The roads are in excellent condition ... even the state highways are great ... making your trip absolutely smooth, with no fatigue when you reach your destination.
But we had finished breakfast ... so that saved us any immediate stops on the road.
If you are going by road, especially from Bangalore, do leave at the earliest ... say before 7 am ... to avoid the city traffic. It took us around 1 hour and a little more just to get out of the city.
But once we hit the highway, it was smooth sailing all along.
The route - Bangalore -> Krishnagiri -> Vellore -> Arcot(bypass) -> Cheyyar(bypass) -> Vandalvasi(bypass) -> Tindivanam(bypass) - > Pondicherry
We took our lunch break just before Vellore. On the right, there comes a HP petrol pump + Cafe Coffee day. Excellent place to take a breather.
There is this place called Arya Bhavana. They serve fresh, hot meals ... South Indian thalis ... at Rs. 70/-. Do try it.
After a hot, fulfilling lunch, we started off ... with no more breaks in mind ... till we reached Pondy.
The next day, we went to Auroville.To visit this beautiful place, you will need enough time and be resilient to the sun and the heat. We parked at the main gate and were instructed to go to the information centre from where we got the tickets to enter Auroville. It is a good half an hour walk through the huge area to reach the Matri Mandir.
To be able to view the Matri mandir from the inside, you will need to provide a request 2 days prior, at the Information centre. They give you the date and time on which you can enter and also take part in the meditation.
Too good! All of us had a piece each and packed a few more to enjoy later with coffee, by the beach.
The next morning we went to Chidambaram, around 71 kms away from Pondicherry, to visit the Natraj temple ... one of its kind in the whole world.
Not only did we view the Maha Aarti, we were asked to wait on one side for a while. Not understanding what was going on, we asked someone. The gentleman explained that after a while, we would be getting a different kind of view of the murti.The beauty of what we viewed next is beyond any description.
The door of the sanctum sanctorum has huge stands of deepaks or lamps, all burning brightly on both sides.
The priests asked us to stand near the huge lattice work windows, so that we could see the main idol as well as the original idol of black stone beside it.
Then, in one sudden pull, they shut the open top of the room, so that not a drop of daylight enters. And in that darkness , we saw the stone idol .... with a huge Deepmala glittering on it!
We realised this Deepmala was the reflection of the lamps shining at the door ... reflecting on the idol ... shimmering and shining brightly in the dark ... as if a garland of brightly lit lamps has been placed on it.
A view of heaven!!
There are boat rides to Serenity beach ... a quiet stretch of untouched beach on an island .... from there.
All too soon, the days were over. And we were on our way back the next morning.