Continued from here
The next morning, Anand, Dad and I were up for a walk in the morning to the Rocky beach again. Even though we were late for sunrise, we were still greeted with the sky in brilliant hues even between the buildings just as we got there. While Anand got busy being the shutterbug he is, the 2 of us had a lovely walk and sat by the water a while too, making the best of the location.
We returned to the hotel, freshened up and after a breakfast made our way to Auroville. After a mandatory 10 min video viewing, we were given free passes to the area. It was disappointing that the video spoke more of the construction of the Matri Mandir (which is admittedly interesting) and nothing about the philosophy and beliefs that drove the creation of the society within Auroville.
Tip: If you want to see inside the Matri Mandir, you need to go personally the previous day and get a pass. While the pass is not charged, the visiting time the next day is only early in the morning before the regular tourist inflow. While I haven’t been there, Anand has and he does admit it’s impressive. However, it depends on how many days you have in Pondicherry and what else you’d prefer to do then.
That aside, after a walk through paths mostly shaded by trees we reached the Matri Mandir viewpoint. On the way are different boards describing the 12 qualities symbolised by flowers and colours. One can only see if from afar on the same day as the visit. There is a free shuttle service too so you don’t necessarily have to walk both ways. After a bit of shopping in the stores at the exit, we headed out. On the way back there are several stores selling handmade woven hammocks. They will even custom make one for you if you have the time to wait. Mom was delighted with her purchase and the demo they gave her of the weaving process too.
We stopped for lunch at the restaurant of a Belgian lady and had a really nice meal with each dish served one at a time since she was the only cook with just one helper. Mom managed meanwhile, like she frequently does, to have a chat with her about her entire family and very interesting life.
Our next stop was an unconventional choice in Pondicherry, The Science Centre and Planetarium simply because I’d been longing for the past 2 years to visit the Planetarium at Bangalore and hadn’t been able to and Mom hadn’t been to one before so we figured it may be interesting. The place is a much smaller version of the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum in Bangalore, just one floor of a small building so is the planetarium. However, the staff are willing and eager to help and it’s a really fun experience to get re-introduced to science concepts you last recall from your middle school exams in a fun way.
Sidenote: if you are in Bangalore and haven’t been to the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, go now! It’s an incredibly under-rated and fun place where you can easily spend a day- and not just for kids.
It’s the perfect excuse to be silly and giggle while pretending you are learning all of the important stuff you’re supposed to know in the first place. All of us had an absolute blast trying the various controls that are thoroughly entertaining. Make sure you do not miss the cool interactive exhibits all around and outside the building- whether it is the contraption that lets you carry your own weight up or my personal favourite- the parabolic reflectors that let you communicate across a distance even while whispering.
Tip: The shows in the planetarium are at a slightly flexible schedule simply because they tend to wait for sufficient audience. So our show at 3 pm in English started a little later around 3:30 and we luckily didn’t miss much. Do check the show timings unless you also speak Tamil because alternate shows are in Tamil and there are only a few shows per day. Also, Monday is a holiday.
We dropped into the Promenade beach to watch some of the dance performances and also visit the Heritage Exhibition that was on due to the celebrations. The latter had a potter’s demonstration on the wheel too that understandably had people transfixed at the hypnotic sight that combined precision and fluidity with such grace.
Anand had noticed a church- Eglise De Notre Dame Des Anges on his wanderings that morning and we all headed right there. It’s the most cake-like church I’ve ever seen. Coloured in pastels with huge arches and a calm interior with no other people it felt like being enveloped in a fairy tale. If you’re up for it, it is apparently the only church in Pondicherry to have a mass on Sunday in all 3 languages – French, English and Tamil.
Hungry by now, we looked up places and headed off to a restaurant at Serenity beach. Unfortunately we didn’t enjoy the food as much except for the starters but on the other hand, we were right by the beach, behind the shacks of the fishermen and we saw boat after boat piercing the darkness with just a torch each and slowly making its way back home at the end of the day.
Up next : The charm of Rajagiri fort