On the 4th day and last day in Chennai, we set off to visit Puducherry (Pondicherry) on a little tourist bus arranged by the tourist company.
Puducherry is connected to Chennai by a highway flanked by enormous buildings and lovely scenarios. This seaside city is known for the ashram of Rishi Aurobindo, and for Auroville.
Our first destination was Auroville. A bit far from the city, but definitely worth a visit if you happen to be nearby. There are exact times limited for visits though.
First they showed a video about the conceptualization of Auroville, its aim, construction and progress. Then there was an exhibition.
A little farther was the banyan tree that is supposed to be the centre of Auroville.
There is a giant golden structure called “Matrimandir“. You can watch it from a viewing point, but only very few people residing in Auroville are allowed inside. There are electric cars for transporting old people. I walked all the way, along with the tour guide, while everyone else went on the car.
Coming back from Auroville, we visited the ashram of Rishi Aurobindo. After keeping our shoes in the shoe counter, and queueing up for about 10-15 minutes, we entered the ashram. A modest looking house, scattered with memories and followers. My parents bought two books on the lives of the Rishi and his wife.
Just beside the main road, the salty waves crackled on the rocks. We stood just opposite to the Office of the Chief Secretariat, and watched the waves for a long time. Then we bid goodbye to the city and hopped on our little bus.
We went to Vellupuram Station, to catch a train to Kanyakumari. The night was spent in the train, we reached our hotel in the morning of 30th December.
Kanyakumari is the southernmost point of Indian mainland. It is where three seas meet, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and The Indian Ocean. Three colours of three seas are said to be visible on keen observation.
It is also known for Vivekananda Rock, a huge rock over which Swami Vivekananda meditated for days during his India-wide walk. Presently, there is a majestic memorial built over the rock.
There is also a rock over which a huge statue of someone stands. I’m not sure who that is.
There was a huge queue for visiting Vivekananda Rock. Here also, there was a special queue for those buying higher price tickets.
They provided us with life-jackets, as we boarded a steamer. Once everybody boarded, it set off towards the Rock with a great speed (and great sound !!).
Reaching the Rock, we left our life-jackets, bought tickets (Rs. 20 each), and climbed the slope to reach the planar area on top.
It was a very windy place, and very sunny.
The Memorial Building was a majestic one, built with bricks cut out of rocks. There is a place you could stand and just look out to the sea. And there was a semi-dark meditation hall. Also, there was a stall selling spiritual books, memoirs, and stuff. I got my father to buy a diary for Brian.
Towards the evening we went towards the southernmost point of the city. There was temple which required men to wear just a dhoti, and women to wear sari, in order to enter. Since I didn’t want to take off my shirt, I skipped the temple and strolled to the exact southernmost point of the city. I stood there, watching as the sun set over the horizon.
As the shroud of darkness began covering up the sky, the local market lit up to life.
Nearby, there was a Gandhi Memorial, where ashes of Mahatma Gandhi are kept according to his last wish. You can climb to its top, using staircases inside.
The next day was a busy one. We boarded our little tourist bus, and it ran towards Kerala, beyond the borders of Tamil Nadu.
Our first stop was the Kovalam Beach. When we finally reached there, it was past noon. The sun was scorching and hot. From the main road, we had to take an auto to reach the beach.
The beach in Kovalam was the most beautiful one I had ever seen. Like the ones you see in wallpapers, complete with palm and coconut trees.
The next one was a temple in Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala. This was another temple that requires you to take off your shirt, so I skipped this one as well..
The third and last stop was a white temple called Suchindram Temple.
It was actually a cluster of hundreds of temples each dedicated to different deities, spread over a huge area. Even the main temple was a massive one, decorated by statuettes all over.
While returning, our bus met an accident with a cycle. But all was well, and we returned our hotel a little late in the night. It was New Year’s Eve, and that was clear by the lightings and decorations all along the roads as our bus sped by.
My wish to Mincy on fb that night went something like :
so much laziness even to write happy new year !!
Missy had said a few days ago that she hated getting wished on facebook, to which I had promised to wish her new year only on facebook. And I did keep my promise 😉
The next morning we moved to Madurai.