Most of our trips to India are spent with family, extended family and exxxxtended family, we don’t venture out much. But we always make a weekend or a 2 to 3 day trip to Pondichery. Just because Pondicherry is easily accessible by road from Chennai and I can stop at my favorite Shore Temple on the way. There is something truly unique about Pondicherry, it has a vibe which is not found anywhere else in India. Quiet beaches and peaceful resorts are the two defining aspects of town’s bustling, yet easygoing life. It has a unique blend of spiritual aura, French colonial heritage, Tamil culture and the cosmopolitan flair of many nationalities in a small but varied town. Pondi, as it is fondly called, is a haven for all types of travelers. Here is how we spend a weekend in Pondichery.
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Sri Aurobindo Ashram
The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is one of the major attractions in Pondi. Setup in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo Ghose, an Indian freedom fighter, poet, philosopher, and yogi, the ashram makes Pondi an important destination for spiritual seekers as well as tourists. Auroville (meaning City of Dawn) is an experimental township founded in 1968 by Mirra Richard (known as The Mother), the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo. Auroville boasts of a unique architectural designed which was conceptualized by the French architect Roger Anger. In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which has been acclaimed as an outstanding and original architectural achievement. It was conceived by Alfassa as a symbol of Universal Mother. Auroville is meant to be an ‘International City of Unity’ where men and women of all countries live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.
The resort life at Dune Eco Village and Spa
We have stayed at a couple of different resorts in Pondi, Dune Eco Village and Spa resort is our favorite. It is an oasis of peace, a lost paradise, a far cry from the fast-paced world and traffic clogged Chennai. The Spa at Dune offers Ayurvedic treatments, yoga and meditation as well as many alternative therapies. The 55 bungalows of which no two are alike – each one is uniquely designed and created by various artists, designers and architects from all around the world is on a 35 acre beach front land. The bungalows bring together luxury and natural living and are reclaimed from Colonial houses, Chettinad palaces and Kerala planter’s mansions. The bungalows are fully equipped with solar water systems and organic linen. They even had an outdoor shower which was fun. The 2 restaurants in the resort serve healthy gourmet fusion food, prepared using organically farmed vegetables. Kids loved riding the bike, making pottery, milking cows, swimming in the pool and beach and various other activities. I especially like the Ayurveda massages which leaves me slathered with medical oils and restores my balance. The fresh coconuts is something I look forward to after a stroll on the beach.
On the way back to Chennai, we stopped for Pizza which was one of the best we had during our trip and at a temple to visit with the Elephants!
No trip to Chennai is complete without some biryani and filter coffee!
Additional information for Dune Eco Resort
They are located in the heart of spirituality, on the Coromandel coast of Tamil Nadu, South India, 150 km south of Chennai (Madras). Just a short drive away from Puducherry and Auroville, it is perfectly situated to experience the cultural best of South India. Check here for more information and reviews about the resort.
The closest international airport is Chennai. The scenic East Coast Road (ECR) links Dune to Chennai, and it takes roughly two and a half hours to reach Puduchery from Chennai. Dune is 9 Km after the Pondicherry ECR toll gate. You will see a Dune sign board at the road crossing on the left side toward the beach. From Puducherry, take the ECR road to Chennai. They are 14 km away from Puduchery(Pondicherry).