Today we just went around the town of Pondicherry. Many of these following places we could visit by walk which we did for many. However, there is no clear walk path on the side of the road. You are mostly walking on the road with vehicles around. Many spots are dirty as well. In some cases we took auto rickshaws. Auto rickshaws in Pondicherry do not have meters. The drivers charge you whatever they like. Charges asked for the minimum distance are anywhere from 40 to 80 Rs.
Our first stop was at Sri Aurobindo Ashram. We walked to this place from our hotel. We had stayed at Ananda Inn. Entry to the ashram is free. Ashram, at its center, has the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. It is a small tree shaded, garden setup courtyard. People come here, sit around the Samadhi and quietly meditate. You can do so as long as you want, no restrictions or obligatory rituals. Then there is an exhibition hall like place where you can get to know more about Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and their method of spiritual practice, through photographs, text and books.
Then we went to Vinayagar Temple, which is just across the street from the Ashram, got blessings from Lord Ganesha. Temple was quite crowded, but still it was pleasant. The temple walls have paintings and pictures of Ganesha from other temples all around the world. It was nice to sit there and look at all those different forms of Ganesha.
We walked further and went to Bharathi Park and the Pondicherry Museum. Museum has good collections of various sculptures, crafts and archaeological findings. There is a small entry fee (I think Rs. 15) for the museum. Bharathi Park is fairly big, but not so clean or well maintained. You may find a place to sit and relax for a bit, but it is not a very green or lush park.
Instead of wasting your time at Bharathi Park, head further to the seaside Promenade, a main attraction in Pondicherry town. That is what we did. It is a long stretch along the sea on Beach Road, also known as Goubert Avenue. It is a beach, but not a sand beach. You can sit on the rocks and enjoy the beauty of the waves hitting those rocks or take a nice long walk.
It is a really beautiful and peaceful spot. You can simply sit there for a long long time. However, as there are food vendors around, a lot of littering going on. It is hard to find a real clean spot to sit and enjoy. There is so much scope for maintaining and improving this beautiful stretch along the sea. We came back again in the evening as the whole area is closed to traffic from 6 PM and all night till 7:30 AM next day. That made it so awesome to walk around, but it does get quite crowded.
Another stop we made is at Botanical Garden. Not worth the time and effort, don’t include it even in the “may be” list unless you hear that something is drastically improved here. There is so much space which could be turned into a beautiful place. But as of now, no maintenance and probably not even a safe place. There is one aquarium inside the garden which was ok especially for kids, but still not worth it.
That was our day activity in Pondicherry. The real awesome attractions like Paradise Beach and Pichavaram are yet to come and looking forward to visiting them.