Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pondicherry Beckons...

Having lived in a concrete cosmopolitan jungle for most part of my life, any chance to escape from it was always welcome. So when I got the chance to visit Pondicherry, a charming town set on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, India, I was in seventh heaven. Pondy, is a quaint little town dotted with majestic white French buildings – a heritage of the colonial masters who took over in the 17th century and ruled for more than 280 years. Even today, you find a number of locals conversing fluently in French, apart from the permanent French residents.
It’s an ideal place to unwind, to recharge your body and soul. Pondicherry is famous for its Aurobindo Ashram established in memory of Sri Aurobindo, the great seer, poet and prophet of the twentieth century, who made Pondicherry his home from 1910 till his death in 1950. Even today the ashram attracts visitors from across the globe.
Auroville, located 10 kms north of Pondicherry town, is envisioned as a Universal Town. This was built by a Paris-born painter and musician, fondly known as ‘The Mother’, who was Sri Aurobindo's disciple and close companion. Here you find people from different countries, faiths and beliefs, living in peace and harmony.
For me, this was an ideal retreat. With its comforting atmosphere of fragrant flowers and attractive foliage, it is easy to melt in the surroundings. A surreal energy and calm seeps through you in such idyllic environs. Sitting on the verandah of the Ashram, ensconced in this cozy ambience, I felt filled, contented and totally at peace. I felt as if I’d just taken a leisurely bath – so overpowering was the feeling of comfort I felt. Strangely, the Ashram was a place visited by hundreds of tourists. Even while sitting on the verandah, I could see groups of people walking about, placing flowers at the resting place of the Sri Aurobindo and genuflecting. Despite such activities, there was utter quiet and peace. It was amazing.
Even today, whenever I feel stressed out, totally bogged down by the demands of everyday living, I slip down memory lane and find myself in the same verandah. I can almost feel the caress of sunlight streaming through the trees, the magical fragrance wafting from the incense sticks mingling with the sweet scent of flowers, and the tranquility embracing the soul.
And of course, strolling along the rocky coastline that stretches for more than 32 miles is another exhilarating experience. Pondy has some of the finest beaches and coastlines of India. The sheer pleasure of sitting on the wide expanse of sand, overlooking the emerald waters with tiny fishing boats bobbing over the waves – these are memories I still cherish.
In the evenings, the fishing boats returned while on the shore women and children waited excitedly for a glimpse of the day’s catch. There’s much more to be explored and experienced in Pondy. Of late, these effervescent memories have been fuelling my desire to pay Pondicherry another visit. And sooner than later, I plan to honour that desire. Wednesday, October 19, 2005 12:15 Posted in Travel Permalink Comments (1) About Me

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