Along the ECR road
East Coast Road, folks, is the Chennai-Pondicherry highway. We went to pondicherry by 2.30. ate at Satsang. Now this is a decent place. But since it was the weekend which coincided with mother's birthday ( i am guessing this is Aurobindo ashram's mother), we got no rooms in Auroville in the city. And then we drove off towards the Auroville outside the city to get a room on the beach side. I had no clue that beachside shack in Pondicherry are not like those in Goa or Gokarna. I was shattered on seeing the dingy huts with common bathooms. Even worse, i found no other woman like me there. Well, I dont consider foreigners to be women like me, thats different though. After a lot of pushing, I settled for a hut by the beach-side and it made me miserable. Don't ask me why i agreed to stay in that room. When you are tired and HAVE TO have a room, thats probably what you would do. Little details like these are what make up your trip and my advice is: don't settle for anything you are not comfortable with.
We headed back to the city Auroville for some electro-hindustani-fusion music and dinner.
Cafe Soleil on the main beach road is a great place for ice creams and a nice view of the sea. I love the vibes in this place and ice creams.
Next morning we went to Repo beach, the famous Auroville beach. Rented life jackets and swam for an hour. The beach just sucks up all the bad vibes (remember the bad hut I stayed in?) and sets you up for the day. Went to Auroville for brunch. The Italian pizza maker also used some italian wooden oven. Great fun food it was!
Then some expensive shopping in the boutiques in Auroville. Then headed off to Mahabalipuram.
Mahabalipuram was GOOD! One small lane with firang cafes and lots of indian shopping shops. I loved it. Just like Hampi or Gokarna. Some chettinad spicy dinner at 'White Elephant' with chit-chatting with firangs and called it a day. Oh btw, Mahabalipuram is no Goa or any other chillout place on west coast. So the last order is 10.45pm, mind it!
Neva mind if you feel like Bangalore with those shutdown timings!
Next morning we lazed, ate, hired bicycles and went sight seeing. I don't understand what aversion men have towards sight-seeing. But when I am a part of the group, I don't give too many options. So, we checked out the famous Shore temples and Five Rathas. These are really nice, except they are very old, a lot more ancient than Hampi. The intricacy of design is less and then subject to erosion from sea winds, leaves hardly any design with the shore temples of Mahabalipuram.
Saree shopping in Kanchipuram marked an expensive end to this road trip. You just have to enter a shop, and bargain insanely in this little town. The shop I went to was a shop facing the road, a bit inside was the owner's house and the backyard was the silk saree looms. Thats like a tiny factory. But these family-run-super-bargain busninesses are slightly different and un-marwadi fashioned model. Anyway, I just liked the idea that they served good home-made filter coffee and let me shop in leisure showing me each saree atleast 5-7 times :D