Friday, 31 May 2013

A "Christmas"y holiday!

All the happy couples in town were already holidaying in some exotic location. It was that time of the year when even the most incompatible of those still make it happen. A time when even vacations, or planning for one, can stress you out. And we, like always, were not sure.....Facebook was flooded with vacation pictures from across the world tinted in red, green and white. My saddest of the friends were all smiles in those pictures. Seemed like they don't get bored of the same colours for christmas. And just when I had given up, well almost, our very dear friends suggested that we go together on a trip to Pondicherry. Now who in this whole world would reject a suggestion of a beach holiday in winter :-)


So, early next day (only as early as 11.30 AM), we were on the Chennai - Bangalore highway, fixating the points for break on the way. For those, who have still not made a road trip to Pondi or have had a bad experience with the kind of road, I would like to suggest this route: Bangalore -> Hosur -> Krishnagiri -> Vellore -> Kanchipuram -> Chengalpattu -> Tindivanam -> Puducherry. Very fast, good roads, we get to bypass all towns (including Kanchipuram). Make sure you do the distance between Vellore and Chengalpattu in the day time to be able to maintain 60 kmph because this is the only state-road stretch. Rest of the route could be easily done at an average of 100+ kmph.



Route Map


Food / Toilet breaks (without getting off the highway): 
1. A Cluster of food joints between Hosur and Krishnagiri. On your way from B'lore, look for the big M after Hosur. Thats uncle Mac calling you along with his other South-Indian cousins.
2. Look for Hotel Grand Krishna after passing Vellore on to your right. Get off the highway just after Hyundai showroom on the left. This is a nice clean place relatively quieter.

So, a pleasant journey, and we arrive just in time for the pre-christmas party at our Kailash Beach resort. 



Christmas at Kailash







Honestly, in that dark, I could hardly make sense of the size or beauty of the place. We were greeted by the christmas decorations and the festive cheer drew the tiredness away from our bored bones. However, the sights, the following morning brought were way beyond my imagination. A lovely huge resort, subtly French in design, adorned with flowering trees and shrubs in all sides and corners that our eyes could reach. A long pathway, again paved by the same lovely trees, led the high-spirited dwellers of the resort to the beautiful secluded (almost smooth white sand) beach. The rooms were clean and tastefully decorated. Only problem NO TV! (Sorry for that, but being a city-dweller forever comes with its own habits. I need noise and lights all the time!).



Kailash Walkway to the beach




When you are on a holiday, time just flies. Now, I wish I'd done few things differently. Maybe, I'd kept away my camera and got my feet wet. Oh, how I wish!



Leave your mark


Sand blowing away in the winter breeze








The christmas fervor kept all of Pondi in its magical clasp. Every street and its turn had been lit up. The french side of the town was one christmas waltz. On the eve's evening, we chose to walk down the length of the Goubert Avenue, had the most sumptuous and well deserved dinner at The Promenade amidst the French revelry, and walked back on the sea-side road. No words can say how calm and soothing it is to walk down this road late in the night with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday makers (mind you, with the traffic banned on this road on holiday evenings)!



Goubert Avenue



So, while we swayed to the salty sea breeze, the sight of the faraway "Notre Dame De’ Church" in the parallel lane caught our attention and immediately dragged our curious brains to check "What really happens in a church on the Christmas eve?". 



View of Notre Dame De Church from Goubert Avenue



All we had to do was soak into the Tamil and French choir and wait for the pending 15 minutes to tick.  The church was full with devotees the crowd spilling to the outsides. A pretty moon shining up their lovely festive look. The French looked very French and Tamils looked as Tamils can be. Brightest of Kanchi sarees and loads of gold jewellery is what  I mean :-) 



Inside Notre Dame










Moon shining over the church
Inside Vertical



5 minutes before the clock was to strike 12, the bunch of priests arrived at the entrance of the hall. All but the last one were chanting something in melancholy. The last one however, paused near the entrance and whispered something into the ears of a boy in similar clothes carrying a lamp. The boy at once ran somewhere. It seemed like they had forgotten something in a rush.The boy quickly caught up, and brought in a doll and disappeared into the crowd inside the hall. And just when the clock struck 12, the choir stopped singing, and the priests announced the birth of the baby. And what followed were speeches in all relevant languages persuading one and all to be righteous and love their neighbours.



Outside church - please excuse the quality here. Handheld, low light




So finally, been there, done that!

Following days were as warm and charming. A pizza stop here and a coffee stop there. While the men shopped for their whites at Ramraj, women couldn't have been happier for where they did theirs. Casablanca with its un-ending options is and will remain a delight to visit. And to pair with those clothes, there also was a "Hidesign" showroom right across the street offering a staple discount! (Hidesign manufacturing happens in Pondi and the discount is given all year round).

It is one thing to go to a place, and another to return! And when you fall in love with that place, you sure are in a fix! Pondi fits that description very well for me. Nothing spiritual, nothing regional, its just the air! So anyway, I chose not to bid an emotional goodbye to the city and just made up my mind to revisit asap. The second floor on Casablanca hadn't been sufficiently explored you see!



Misty beach - Kailash




We chose to drive back via Chennai. Since the holiday so far had been very Christmassy, we decided to top it off with a visit to one of the most popular churches in India, the St.Thomas Basilica (Santhome Basilica). It was built in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers, over the tomb of St Thomas, an apostle of Jesus. In 1893, it was rebuilt as a church with the status of a cathedral by the British. The British version still stands today. It was designed in Neo-Gothic style, favoured by British architects in the late 19th century.



San Thome Panorama - with Samsung Galaxy Ace cell phone

Inside San Thome - with Samsung Galaxy Ace cell phone

Holy Mother - taken with Samsung Galaxy Ace cell phone

Inside Panaroma - with Samsung Galaxy Ace cell phone




Its not that I enjoy visiting tombs for recreation but I would like to remember this as quite an experience!


After dragging our way through the horrendous traffic of Chennai for approx. 3 hours, it was a natural breeze to simply head straight to the big M near Hosur for a sign off ! :-)



Back Home - with Samsung Galaxy Ace cell phone



Hope you enjoyed the trip with me!


About the pictures:

Taken with Nikon D50 + Kit lens - Christmas at Kailash (tried zoom effect here), Leave your mark, Sand blowing away in the winter breeze, Goubert Avenue(tried zoom effect here)View of Notre Dame De Church from Goubert Avenue, Inside Notre Dame(tried zoom effect here)Moon shining over the church, Inside vertical, Outside church, Misty beach - Kailash

Taken with Samsung Galaxy Ace cellphone - San Thome Panorama, Inside San Thome, Holy Mother, Inside Panaroma, Back Home

Courtesy Google maps: Route map


5 comments:

  1. Dear Mamatha,

    Thanks for helping us relive the pleasant memories. It was indeed one of the best trips we have taken with friends. All the pictures are lovely and the "Sand blowing away in the winter breeze" is just AMAZING... Looking forward to many more such trips....

    Cheers,
    Anu and Arun

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anu and Arun, thanks for the appreciation. It means a lot to me. I too had my time of cherishing the lovely memories of the trip (those mentioned /and not) while writing this blog.

    Yes, it's time we planned the next one!

    Cheers,
    Mama tha.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very descriptive and well drafted with the entire journey. "Sand Blowing with the winter breeze" is an awesome pic. Appreciate the style of writing with your experience and giving along with a glimpse and feel of the place to the readers. Keep up the good work..!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice trip, some of the images are good as experiments. Overall one must enjoy the vacation and it shows you did it.....and good notes too.

    ReplyDelete

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