For celebrating and welcoming the New Year 2017 with my friends, I visited Pondicherry. I flew to Bangalore from where we all took the overnight bus (Greenline has the best services and is the most punctual of them). You get to Pondy at about 6 in the morning.
I have been to Pondi a few times before but this was the first time I was seeing it during New Year’s and I have honestly never seen so many human beings in Pondicherry before. It was REALLY crowded – lesser with foreigners and more with locals from neighbouring states and cities. And unfortunately it had all gone to pretty much shit by 10pm on New Year’s eve. There were drunk rowdy men screaming and grabbing women and beating up the men, creating ruckus. We already had a sense of the way the Indian male sense sort of turns ugly during this time so we stayed back where we were partying (Umami Kitchen) and only left by 3am when the rowdiness had simmered down but a lot of people weren’t lucky enough or just hadn’t been warned. The next day we heard of a French couple who were here on their First trip to India – the lady got touched inappropriately and the man was beaten up right next to the promenade walk. They swore to never come back to India. And why the fuck should they?! SHAME – my country and it’s men(#notallmen) only invoke feelings of shame in me.
Apart from this unsavoury one night, even crowded, Pondy did have it’s charm and gave us a pleasant experience otherwise. We walked all around, ate way too much, drank too much wine and then walked some more. Here is the travel photo-diary below. Nothing from New Year’s Eve because I didn’t even carry my cellphone for it 😉
Where to STAY:
We stayed at a beautiful home-stay where I have stayed every time that I have visited Pondicherry till now. It is also now listed on Airbnb so you can book it through there. Lush foliage, plenty of cozy spots to sit in, a bangin roof to chill on, 2 very friendly dogs who don’t bother you if you’re not into it, 2 minute walk to the promenade beach area, beautiful spacious rooms with high ceilings and Bitasta Aunty who is the sweetest!! It’s the best location you can have in Pondicherry and so much more character than what any hotel can provide.
Here is the link to one of the rooms on Airbnb although this is not the room that I have ever stayed in.
Some pics of the property:
We arrived really early so decided to catch the rising sun over the sea and have some coffee at the super crowded cafe right on the Promenade. After which we walked about a bit, had breakfast at Surguru and then headed back to get some more sleep.
Where to EAT:
Surguru – There are few of them in Pondy and they open at 7am so it’s the best place to have a breakfast if you’ve taken one of those overnight buses and can’t check in till late. They serve simple but delicious South Indian food for breakfast. Vadas and ghee-roast dosa are an absolute must-try.
Hotel Kamatchi – You HAVE to go here for lunch. And go early otherwise they run out of almost everything because that’s how popular they are even with the locals. Some brilliant South Indian food. You can literally try everything here.
Café des Arts – Early evenings are meant for this place. It has turned into an iconic Pondicherry Cafe where I think almost all tourists go to get a fresh juice, really good coffee and healthy cafe grub. Don’t miss their Nutella Waffles PLEASE – they will set your standards forever! Again, go early otherwise you won’t find a place to sit. This place also has a boutique where you can shop some really nice clothes and vintage accessories. I bought a pair of heart shaped sunglasses this time for ₹ 800/-
Hotel Qualithe – While this is a hotel(looks quite run down from the outside) – a very very old one – it also has a restaurant on the rooftop which is a great watering hole for the locals. Go here in the evenings after the sunset to sit out and have lots of drinks or pre-game for a big night because food and alcohol is very attractively priced here. And it’s not bad at all!
Umami Kitchen – This is a more high-end restaurant and perfect for sultry evenings. Don’t miss their cocktails and the Italian food is probably the best you’ll find in Pondicherry. We spent our New Year’s Eve here and had a lovely time!
When you are walking around you can also treat yourself to a freshly squeezed fresh-lime (known as Mosambi in India) juice from cute carts usually run by ladies. Most of them are surprisingly clean setups.
Where to SHOP:
LAL (Living Art Lifestyles) – This is a beautiful shop that sells it’s own label as well as a few others. Fabulous handmade and crafted products, they even weave their own fabrics, develop their own blocks for hand-block-printing and have perfect silhouettes for a tropical weather – easy and comfy and breathable natural fabrics. I got a stunning bomber jacket covered in exquisite local Gujarat hand-embroidery and it’s a uinique piece which means no-one will ever have mine! I can’t wait to share it on the blog.
I have also worn their clothes before HERE and HERE
Janaki – Another lovely shop where you can find natural fabrics, lovely clothes and independant local brands, handcrafted products, natural skincare products and even toys for kids.
DisDis & CO Boutique & Cafe – It’s a lovely cafe but we did not eat here because it was the 31st and they were getting ready for the eve party so their kitchen was shut. But they do have a great shop where you will find a lot of fun holiday pieces in cute prints and silhouettes leaning slightly towards a younger audience (and yes I include myself in that). My favorite was their banana-leaf printed collection – I wanted to take every piece in that. Love their website too!
Anokhi – They have more shops across India but if you’re here in Pondi you might as well check this one out for lots and lots of kurtas, pretty jewelry, organic fabrics and even menswear. It’s a huge store and there is something for everyone here. I do wish they had a better website though – it’s rather dull.
Hope you enjoyed the post! I’d love to know what your favorite places to eat at and shop in Pondicherry are!!