Hey guys! so I am back with my first travel post and this time its about one of the most serene place in India- Pondicherry, known for its exotic beaches and spectacular french colony but this time we decided to explore more than that, so keep on reading to know about the hidden gem near pondicherry called Pichavaram. Pondicherry is around 310 km from Bangalore if you opt for the shortest route.
We planned a four day ( 29th sept – 2nd oct)road trip from Bangalore to Pondicherry as it was going to be a long weekend, courtesy gandhi jayanti. We booked the hotel just 1 day before departure, but discovered that our Driving License and RC card was missing. Finally, we decided to go by a cab, we booked Toyota Etios through Meru Cabs and it costed us around 11917/- so going by a cab is completely optional . You can drive and save few bucks or if you are in a group you can split the amount. Even you can go by bus/ train/flight. But I personally felt that Cab is a better option than flight considering the travel time from city to airport and then waiting time. Furthermore, you wont need to worry about local commuting in pondicherry.
We left Bangalore at around 6:30 am and took a breakfast break at Shri Krishna Inn in Shoolagiri and another tea break at Gingee. We opted for the thiruvannamalai route as it is the shortest one. The road is good till Krishnagiri but after that you won’t get the highway kind of feeling but it wasn’t bad too, nothing like muddy road or potholes. In case you want to take another route then you can go via Vellore. We reached our hotel situated in kamraj salai at around 1pm. Since we were too tired so we decided to take rest after having lunch. In the evening, we went to the rock beach also known as promenade beach. its perfect for those long romantic beach walks however, since Its within the city so mostly it gets overcrowded . The centre of the attraction is the old lighthouse which is also a viewpoint. Other things to see are Mahatma Gandhi statue, Kargil war memorial,statue of Dupleix. You can see all this while walking from one end to another.
For dinner we decided to give a shot to french cuisine and went to Villa helena and tried few of their delicacies and wasn’t much impressed with the taste, however we loved the decor and the ambience.
We slept early on Day 1 as we planned to leave early for pichavaram but due to some reason it went on getting delayed and finally we left at around 10 pm and it costed us one whole day…oh wait ! wait! let me first tell you about Pichavaram.Pichavaram is the second largest mangrove forest next to sunderbans. I always wanted to visit sunderbans but I never knew that I stay so close to the beauty called Pichavaram
Pichavaram is a village near Chidambaram in Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu, India.  It is located between the Vellar estuary in the north and Coleroon estuary in the south. The Vellar-Coleroon estuarine complex forms the Killai backwater and the mangroves that are permanently rooted in a few feet of water.Pichavaram consists of a number of islands interspersing a vast expanse of water covered with mangroves. The area is about 1100 hectare and is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sand bar. The biotope consists of species like Avicennia and Rhizophora. It also supports the existence of rare varieties of economically important shell and finfishes. (Source)
Its around 80 km from Pondicherry. We reached there at around 12:30 pm and believe me we regretted coming late as it was too hot in the afternoon and with a long queue. so, the best time to visit is either early morning or late afternoon. Somehow, we managed to get tickets for a motor boat with 1 hour waiting time. Now the trick is that you won’t get boats (motor boat) on per head basis , you need to book a full boat. So the ideal thing is to look for some other people to go for boat pooling and share the cost. I can’t recall the exact charges but it was somewhere around 1600/- for a 40 min ride and then you can pay extra in the boat if you want to explore more. Yes! once you enter the forest , you will get allured to explore more and more because that’s something which most of us have seen mostly in movies.. remember the hollywood movie featuring Amazon.. one such was Black Water!
So after enjoying the ride, we left for pondicherry at around 3 :00 pm but we diverted on our way to Chidambaram to have lunch at Murthy cafe. It was suggested by few locals and believe me it was worth every penny .Must try were their biryani, chettinad prawn curry.
We reached Pondicherry around 5:00 pm and decided to give rest to ourselves and our driver too as we all got tired , not by the distance but by the hot weather. Since we had a late lunch, so we just shared a north Indian thali for dinner.
Day 3 was reserved for Paradise beach. We need to take a boat ride of around 15-20 mins from chunnambar boat house to reach paradise Island.The ticket counter opens at 9:00 am . So first you need to buy boat house entry ticket and then boat ride ticket from the counter located inside the boat house. We reached Paradise Island at around 11:00 am and were blown away by its beauty. Its one of the most well maintained and clean beaches in India. Yes! extremely clean to the extent that you can’t carry outside food and drinks with you. You only have to buy from the only shop in the beach which had a very limited and over priced menu..you know monopoly hurts! On the one hand, I was admiring the beauty of the beach but on other I was missing the commercialized beaches of Goa with the recliners, umbrella, locker room and ample choices for food and drinks.
They have few hut like structures for shade and it was adding to the beauty of the beach. There was separate changing room for male and female and I love the rain dance experience, great way to get rid of all the sands, at a very nominal cost of Rs 50 for 30 mins. There were few other activities too but we decided to leave at around 2:00 pm as we planned to go for some shopping in the evening. In the evening we again went back to white town and visited some local handicraft shops and Government park, basilica of sacred heart of jesus church. Yes we missed many places but we wanted to remember this trip as a relaxed one and enjoyed every place leisurely.
Finally, it was our last day in Pondicherry. Wait.. wait! We haven’t visited Auroville right? So if you are travelling back to Bangalore, you can reserve it for visiting while returning as its on Bangalore-Pondicherry highway. So, as suggested by our driver, we planned to visit it on last day but unfortunately we had to skip it as my kid wasn’t feeling well and we headed directly to Bangalore.
Overall it was a relaxed trip for us, we did a road trip after almost a year and that too by taxi , I think we did such trip almost 6 years back, so I enjoyed it a lot but the highlight was obviously Pichavaram trip, as they say ..You have to see it to believe it.. its beauty. however, i think the best time to visit Pondicherry is now…late november or Dec- jan as even October heat was unbearable for me.To enjoy to the fullest, you must keep yourself well hydrated.Also, dont forget to taste the local cuisine afterall Pondicherry is not just about French cuisine.