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Calm is the norm

Puducherry is one of the a lot of accepted day-tripper destinations in South India.

travel Updated: Sep 20, 2010 00:44 IST

There's something about sleepy Puducherry or
Pondicherry that draws me to it over and over again!


For most people one visit is enough to look around and soak in the atmosphere of this laidback former French colony. For me, every visit only makes my heart grow fonder.

Culture mix
The beauty of Pondicherry lies in the way it straddles two distinct cultures with ease. Walking down the streets, be prepared to be surprised as you hear native Tamilians converse in French. Ask their names and expect to be even more surprised because names like Brutus Vivek are not uncommon. It amazes me how French and Tamilian cultures have come together and coexisted so well.

The Sri Aurobindo ashram is probably the most visited piece of real estate in the city. Years go by, but the ashram remains a place of universal acceptance and abundant peace. A few minutes spent there will soothe your nerves. Walk across to the Manakula Vinayagar Koil to visit the temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha or just go there to see Lakshmi -- the temple elephant.

Both, the temple and ashram are located in the French quarter of Pondicherry -- the part of town that still has magnificent French style villas, and where street names begin with "Rue" meaning street or road in French.

Magnificent doorways peeping out from under a curtain of bougainvillea in full bloom welcome you instead of a regular gate. With imposing walls and long windows with grills, it's impossible to take a peek inside.

Busy promenades
As evening sets in, the seaside promenade comes alive, crowded and full of vendors. I prefer a walk by the sea in the mornings. French cuisine is well known the world over, but here, even that has been influenced by the local culture. It's known as Franco-Tamilian cuisine.

People visit Pondicherry for many reasons. Whatever it is that draws you to the city, you will leave a calmer and rejuvenated person. There's something in the air. It's hard to describe, but a pleasure to experience.