1. Puducherry: Experience Goa of South

Puducherry: Experience Goa of South

Often dubbed as 'The Europe of India', Puducherry is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India offering a unique mix of cultural heritage.

By: | Puducherry | Updated: March 23, 2015 2:09 PM


Club Mahindra resort, Puducherry1

Club Mahindra Puducherry is a modern yet quaint resort, sprawled over 24 acres and offers a spectacular sunrise view from a pristine beach.

The concept of holidaying in itself has gone through a transformation. The Indian traveller today is more discerning and seeks to explore newer destinations and holiday experiences. There is also a shift from annual vacations to multiple short breaks like weekend getaways with family and friends.

However, a holiday is no longer just a ‘get away’. It has grown to become an activity that requires some serious planning to ensure the time spent with loved ones, be it for short spell, is both affordable and memorable. Adapting to this changing scenario of the holiday concept, Club Mahindra has emerged as a leader in providing unique leisure hospitality.

“At Club Mahindra we are committed to creating ‘Magical Moments’ for our 1.78 lakh members when they holiday at one of our 41 resorts. We aim to create a lifetime of memories for our members, thus forging a long-lasting relationship,” said a spokesperson for the Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India, the leisure and hospitality arm of the Mahindra Group.

Club Mahindra logo of ‘make every moment magical’ – inspired by the Buddhist mandalas – is a reflection of this thought and  all its resorts follow this philosophy.

All of the company’s resorts offer luxury hospitality and focus on creating an excellent holiday experience for members who can opt for a variety of experiences, including wildlife, hill stations, deserts etc, depending on the kind of vacation they have in mind and If you love to relax on a serene beach with the wind in your face, Club Mahindra resort in Puducherry is a win win vacation spot for you.

Modern yet quaint, the resort is sprawled over 24 acres and offers a spectacular sunrise view from a pristine beach. One can also laze around in the evening to sound of surf. However, swimming in only near the shore is recommended as the sea is a bit rough in the area.

Puducherry beach

This beach front property resort has 125 studio apartments and is built in harmony with nature, amidst lush greenery and open landscapes. The air-conditioned studios at the resort are aesthetically designed and equipped with modern equipment. The resort lobby acts as a lively converging point for guests where one can lounge in the plush cane chairs, access the internet through free wifi, relax at the open bar or participate in the fun evening entertainment games and activities.

The resort has a multi-cuisine restaurant that offers the best in world and local cuisine for guests. The beautiful infinity pool is perfect for a cool dip on a hot day. One can also watch the perfect sunrise or take a stroll on the beach right outside the resort boundary walls. While out on a walk within the resort one can even spot beautiful and rare species of birds and butterflies.

There are also entertaining activities for children like nail art, tattoo making, pottery making, video games and cartoons. The activities range from entertainment to skill development. The resort also has fun zones and recreational activity centres under the supervision of a specially trained team who take charge of engaging kids so that adults can relax and do something on their own.

The Club Mahindra Pondicherry resort team also organises many entertaining activities and games to keep the guests entertained. In the evenings, the lobby area turns into a hive of activity with guests converging to sing, dance and play games. The resort team also organizes a dancing session every day for guests where different generations can let their hair down and learn some jigs. One can also learn interesting recipes at live-cooking sessions organised by the F&B team at the resort.

For the adventure lovers, there are activities involving ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) rides, land zorbing, air rocket on offer.

The F&B team at Club Mahindra works towards creating unique recipes with a blend of local and popular flavours. Apart from enjoying world cuisine, at Club Mahindra resorts one gets a chance to sample recipes and delicacies from the local regions. Our Chefs take great pleasure in understanding local flavours, ingredients and cultural preferences to create recipes that reflect the true taste of every region.

For the foodies, chefs put a spread of an interesting mix of French and Tamil local food, prepared using local ingredients. Some of the popular local dishes are Prawn Masala, Fried Fish, French Onion Soup with Cheese Croutons, Nandu Rasam (crab broth), Pondy Manga Meen Kuzhambu (Sear fish with raw mango and local spices), Ragi Porridge, Appams with vegetable stew and fish gravy.

Apart from this, the restaurant also organises interesting food drama through outrageous food in the form of Jumbo Pizza, Jumbo Burger and Maharaja Dosa where guests are encouraged to create the outrageous food of the day and enjoy it too.

Visiting Puducherry town

Distance from resort: 45 minutes by car

A small place with big history, Puducherry has the quaint charm of a small French town. Formerly known as Pondicherry, Puducherry  was a French colony until 1954. Often dubbed as “The Europe of India”, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India offering a unique mix of cultural heritage. One can also see juxtaposition of Tamil and Islamic culture.

Every year, this coastal town attracts visitors from across the world to experience the tranquil ambiance of Auroville and the Ashram.

Auroville, located 8 km north-west of Puducherry, is an experimental township based on the simple maxim that everyone should live in harmony and synergy. Founded as a project of the Sri Aurobindo Society in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, “The Mother”, it was designed by renowned architect Roger Anger. A visit to the Matrimandir situated in the middle of the town is worth it. It has been acclaimed as “an outstanding and original architectural achievement”. Auroville is an enlightening experience and has much to offer anyone who visits here.

The Ashram, located at located on rue de la Marine, is a serene place to visit. There is an exhibition hall that provides you with the vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and their method of spiritual practice, through permanent exhibits of photographs, captions, text, videos and books. Daily tours take place for those who express an interest in visiting various parts of the ashram, the town, as well as Auroville.

Other popular tourist destinations include the four beaches — Promenade Beach (also known locally as the Rocky Beach), Paradise Beach, The Auroville Beach and Serenity Beach.

A number of heritage buildings and monuments are also located around the Promenade Beach, such as the Children’s Park & Dupleix Statue, Gandhi statue (a four-metre statue of Mahatma Gandhi surrounded by eight granite pillars), Nehru Statue, Le Café, French War Memorial at Goubert Avenue, 19th Century Light House, Governors Palace, Legislative Assembly, Pondicherry Museum and the French Institute of Pondicherry at Saint-Louis Street.

There are also several cathedrals and Hindu temples to visit. Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Devasthanam on Manakula Vinayagar Street. It is in existence before the French came and settled in Pondicherry.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, situated on the south boulevard, is an oriental specimen of Gothic architecture. It contains rare stained glass panels depicting events from the life of Christ.

Another place to visit is Meeran mosque, which is the oldest mosque in Puducherry, built over 350 years ago. It has the old gothic Islam architecture in it.

What to buy: A wonderful assortment of incense, perfumed candles and essential oils, soaps, handmade-paper products produced by Sri Aurobindo Ashram are available in the boutiques in the Auroville premises as well as other parts of the town.

Many local products can also be bought in the shops located on Nehru Street and Mahatma Gandhi Road.

Pudukuppam Fisherman village

Distance from resort: 15-minute-walk along the beach

Puducherry fishermen village

The coast of Pudducherry is inhabited by local fishermen, living together in small villages. One such village is Pudukuppam, a short 15-minute-walk along the beach from Club Mahindra Puducherry. Lined with small brick houses along the beach front and narrow alleys, Pudukuppam presents the perfect picture of a coastal village.

This village comes awake in the early morning hours when fishermen set about their task of hauling their dingy trawlers into the sea to begin their catch of the day. The women in the village stay back and tend to the needs of their families. By daybreak, the men are back and then it’s time for the women to take over. The day’s catch is removed from nets and set in baskets which the women then carry into the nearest town to sell.

The village takes then takes on a sleepy garb with some men catching up on their sleep and others tending to their damaged nets or trawlers. The village was all but destroyed in 2011 when Cyclone ‘Thane’ hit the coast, wiping away precious life. But for people living in the village it’s a distant memory and a way of life. Life carries on. One is greeted by notes of A. R. Rahman’s hits floating out of houses and women sit outside their houses, making small talk as they prepare their meals.

Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry,  was a French colony until 1954. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India. Often dubbed as “The Europe of India” this coastal town offers a unique mix of cultural heritage. The town has retained a number of colonial buildings, churches, statues, and systematic town planning, as well as urban architecture of the local Tamil style.

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