Over a period of time with my extensive travel across various cities in India as well as outside, I have now come around to a conclusion that the best part of the day to explore any place is the early morning. It is that part of the day when life is not at the full speed, roads are invariably empty with not much or no traffic, skies are unpolluted, air is cleaner and you can get the good view of the things around.
Having tested this concept at many cities over a period of time, now, it has become an integral routine of my planning whenever I travel to any place. I segregate my typical day into two parts. The first category includes the places which that can be covered during the morning phase especially between 5.00am to 8.00am. The second category includes the places to be covered during rest of the day.
The advantage with my first list for Pondicherry was that all the places were in the vicinity of each other and could be done in one morning.
Places to be covered in Morning-walk
Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar (Ganapathy) Temple
French War Memorial
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Church of Our Lady of Angels
The Hollywood Connection
Places to be covered during Rest-of-the-Day
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Chidambaram Temple (can be covered provided your cab has a road permit to go there)
We started the Day-2 around 5.30 a.m. and within 15 minutes we were on Beach Road. It will not be wrong to say that during my entire morning walk, I was trying to look for any connection with the movie at all the places moment I started out from guest house and the various parts of the movie were constantly playing out at the back of my mind trying to figure out any connection.
The walk through the city roads was also very interesting and we had to traverse through the wholesale vegetable market which presented an altogether different view than what has been mentioned by me above. The place reminded me to a certain extent like an office of a stock exchange broker with so many people milling around and trading albeit vegetables here. The activity was very intensive and action packed. The local grocers were buying the vegetables and loading them in the rickshaws, tempos and vans.
The whole place was filled with the aroma of the fresh vegetables and one can easily make out the scent of ginger, spinach, coriander, lemon and other vegetables floating around and had got mixed in the cool morning breeze that was coming from the sea. You can take it as an exceptional part of the town to be busy at such an early part of the day. By the way, if you have never been to any local wholesale vegetable market, I will suggest you not to miss this opportunity and put it on your bucket list..
Beach Road was not crowded but there were decent number people busy with the morning walk, doing yoga on the pavement and off-course, there were people like me as well moving around with a camera and taking pictures. The main section of Beach road or promenade is not very long and can be covered quickly but this section is long enough to give a quick brush with history as well as a peek-a-boo into the Indian part of French Riviera. There is a very nice small mandapam with Gandhi Statute and a Nehru statue on the opposite of the road. Just a few meters away is the French war memorial. On the southern end of the road, there is a small park which has a statute of General Joseph Francois Dupleix who was Governor of Pondicherry from 1742 to 1754. I must add though is that the place is very charming with a beautiful view of morning sea. You just feel like being there and enjoy the breeze as well as rising sun.
After strolling on the promenade for some time, we crossed into the alleys which led us towards French quarters or colony. Once inside the lanes, suddenly we found ourselves in front of the Church of Our Lady of Angels or Eglise Notre Dame des Anges. The church is very impressive and beautiful like typical French architectural monuments and has been very well maintained. While scrolling through Google, I noticed that the construction style of the building has been unique to give polished finishing. . We surfed for about 30 minutes in the lanes trying to connect the dots with Hollywood blockbuster and an Oscar winner movie Life of Pi. The movie is a 2012 American film based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same name. The film was directed by Ang Lee. The movie won one Golden Globe and four Oscars while having been nominated for eleven categories. The movie has been amongst the successful movies globally and a blockbuster in India. It begins in Pondicherry as the protagonist of the movie “Pi” Patel hails from this place. In the movie, Pi survives a shipwreck and is stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. Interesting movie, captivating plot with astonishing cinematography.
It will not be wrong to say that during my entire morning walk, I was trying look for any connection with the movie at all the places moment I started out from guest house and the various parts of the movie were constantly playing out at the back of my mind.
After that, we went to Ganapathy temple. It is a small but very beautiful temple with many Ganesha statues and pictures surrounding on all the walls. I wanted to capture the beautiful and soul-filling inside of the temple but the photography was not allowed. Few paces away from the temple was the Aurobindo Ashram. We went inside the ashram and spent about 15 minutes.
By now, now it was around 8.00 a m. and was time to get back to the guest house so that we can get on with the rest of the day.