Pondicherry calling...

 Quite early in my childhood, I realized that instead of blood, I am born with wanderlust in my veins. It throbs and boils, surges and swells, turns and twists..pushes me to go out and explore .
Alas! being happily married,juggling job and home responsibilities with two school going hyperactive kids and a jampacked schedule is enough to subside even the most intense of wanderlust spark in me! and it becomes ..... ' wanderlust'  *conditions applied.

Unfazed and undeterred I manage out as much as possible and visiting Pondicherry was one such opportunity,a good stroke of luck in my favour.
From the time we shifted to Bangalore , we were trying to go to this tiny place tucked cosily in the east coastal region of TamilNadu, India.

Instead we visited Kodiakanal and Kanyakumari but due to this reason  or other the trip to Pondy was not materializing so, one can understand my happiness when on a fine day my husband dropped tickets for Pondy in my lap as  our marrige anniversary gift !
The moment I realized that we are going ...It was bliss!

With only two days to go it was lots of work from packing bags to washing laundry and leaving the house spotless clean so on coming back we all can just crash...and being a true wanderer I LOO..VE every bit of it :)
So, on the eve of 26th of june we started from Bangalore by A.C. sleeper bus,my favourite mode of travelling -economic and fun.
Me and Ani in Bus

 Despite of so many options for travelling I prefer bus for long journeys and  bicycles  and kinetics for  short distances ,within a city. I completely abhor planes for not letting me enjoy the journey.They simply throw you to your destination eliminating the joy and thrill of the journey. Air ways for me are strictly business or emergency.
With this extra dose of info lets not steer away from our narrative and continue the journey.

Vibhor had booked one upper and one lower berth but after boarding all four of us liked the upper berth so we crammed ourselves there with me and Pihu in one direction and Anindy and he sat facing us.As soon as we settled down by adjusting my purse-cum-whole family's bag and water bottle, it started raining outside and Pihu got hungry. Hubby dear rushed out in the torrent and returned with typical Bangalore style steaming dosa -idli,coconut chutney and bada-sambhar for all.
and while he was handing us food, the bus started with the usual Indian ishtyle jolt sending Vibhor crashing on three of us!
By the grace of God sambhar was not spilled and after a moment of shock we laughed as half drenched Vibhor spattered  water from his hair on three of us. The kids laughed  and for me, the joy of journey had started.

Next day  we reached Pondy in early hours when the dusk was still breaking. The kids were still sleeping.I came down from my berth to look outside from the lower seat.We were on the outskirts of the city. Due to wee hours all was calm and clean.By the time bus entered deep in  the city its around 6 am and I saw the first french connection with the  policemen wearing bright red Kepis .

Though there are evidences of the presence of flourishing Pallava, Chola and the Vijayanagar empires near and in the city , as of now ,it is the french connection of Pondy which makes it distinct in a traveller's mind.  During the Roman empire Pondicherry was the  port through which India used to export spices and silks.In the 16th century Portuguese arrived followed by Danes and  finally the French.
Later in 17th and 18 th century it fell in the hands of British and battles were  fought between French and the British for the dominance over the port city.however around 1950's the French voluntarily gave the city to India and it became a union territory with four coastal regions namely-Pondicherry karaikal (in the east coast in Tmil Nadu) Yanam (in Andhra Pradesh) and mahe (in west coast in Kerela)  making it a peculiar case for jurisdiction!

When bus stopped,I came to the present .Kids were still sleepy and we entered in  our hotel with bags and one heavily sleepy kid each on our backs!

Anindy preferred the couch 
Curios which caused the fight in my kids!
The time which hubby dear took in doing small talk on the reception and I, to admire the paintings and other articraft, the kids considered the reception as theit bedroom and fought for the best spot with Anindy getting the comfy couch and Pihu grudgingly settling for the thick carpet!!

Pihu settled for the carpet
Pihu in Auto for Boat House
Quickly realising the picture. the parents came in active mode and Vibhor attended to the elder son's hurt pride as younger sis had not listened to him while I nursed Pihu's wounds ;only to realise her as happy and satisfied as she told me that she loved the carpet more than the couch!!! :)

In this way we entered the lift and crashed in the room by ending the first part of the kid-battle.After another hour's rest,refreshment and a hearty breakfast kids were wide awake and ready to roar on the Pondy beaches.
With a Pondy map in hand we headed for the chunnambar boat house by an auto . the boat house is 8km away from the main city on the Cuddalore main road and it is  big and has a recreation area  with refreshment stalls, large aquariums with colourful fish, swings and an artificial climbing wall for kids.

On the steamer with life-jackets of Puducherry  tourism on us we crossed the  backwaters of Pondy to reach the Paradise beach.The back waters were calm with occasional fish leaping out of the water only to submerge in it after drawing a perfect arch . Far on the banks quaint bungalows and cottages were visible completing the picturesque look of the scene.As we disembarked from the steamer vast expanse of sand came in view. Anindy started running with his father while me and Pihu followed at a more leisurely pace absorbing each and every sight and trying to catch the sound of the yet invisible sea. We climbed on a sandy mound and lo and behold! vast blue ocean with white gushing waves lay there twisting and turning to greet us.

It was little far from the elevated place where I stood and I could see Vibhor and Anindy waving from there. I rushed.. to stop Pihu who was running rather tumbling  as if drawn by a magnet towards the sea! It was hard to change her clothes with water crashing so near her. She jumped in it and as usual,  instead of thrill , calm was there in her countenance ;because she was in her element - a mermaid  in water!
She sat and let herself  being swayed and tossed and turned by the salt water. She was in Heaven.
Painting on wallsAnindy with his father enjoyed in the way only they can running and playing in the waves. Always some activity .

I was mesmerised by the scene as  the sea was playful yet calm. Looking towards the horizon the
sea was like a vast  aqua blue turquoise sheet on the earth billowing with occasional ripples. However the shore line was a hub of activity with crashing waves and white surf. A perfect place to relax and unwind it was truly  Paradise Beach- Plage Paradiso.

 On our way back kids enjoyed the swings and other things that the boat house area had to offer. Both of them scaled the full height of the wall with Anindy getting sweaty hands near the summit and Pihu simply lost interest midway (foolish she thought perhaps. what are silent rocks to a bubbling water creature I guess?)

Old pondy picture
Rock Beach
We had lunch and took some rest in the hotel before strolling in the nearby markets and connecting lanes. This simple strolling through the various by lanes offered the real Pondy with beautifully build houses of Tamilian architecture and mansions with french look. We hired a scooty from there and reached the Aurobindo Ashram .
Bharathi Park
Aayi Mandapam is in this Park
It appeared standing still in time with furniture and books placed in such a way as if  Ma or Aurobindo swami will come any time to have a chat. We did a hurried tour of various memorials and the famous Bharathi Park. Anindy fell from a wall and  hurt himself  while playing there,but nothing serious happened. This park is the Government park with Aayi mandapam -the emblem of Pondicherry Govt. in it.
 From there we found ourselves on the famous Serenity Beach or the Rock Beach as its a long rocky shoreline. Some of the bloodiest Anglo-French battles were fought on these sands. Today, however, this beach is ideal for a lazy stroll or one can simply sit here on the parapet by the sea or on one of the rocks and gaze out at the rolling waves or at boats and ships looking like black and red dots on the horizon .Pihu instead chose to enjoy the sea-spray standing on a rock with his papa for the  longest time.
From the roof of cafeteria
Pihu climbing to reach the MG statue
The famous Goubert Avenue, which runs along the beach, is sprinkled with  monuments and memorials. The most imposing was the huge, impressive statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which stands on the seafront, surrounded by eight beautifully carved pillars which worked as slides for all kids including mine.I was uncomfortable with the idea of  kids using the monument of The Father of Nation as a play area but  then  I realised that Anindy was touching his feet every time he'd reach the top! So I sat mum.
Goubert avenue was  a lovely place to visit in the evenings as it was well-lit ,serene and is surrounded by the notes of  music coming from a local  youth band playing in a sea side cafeteria. The cafeteria itself boasted of old sepia pictures of Pondy and its various Boulevards of the french and British era.

After savouring hot coffee and breaking French bread there we strolled leisurely on the pavement, listening to the crashing waves and feeling the gathering twilight .
This was how our maiden day in Pondy ended....with calm and serenity.

The ancient temple of Lord Shiva

There are many famous temples in Bangalore like the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple , ISKON  and many more. A not so famous yet one of the oldest temple of Lord Shiva is the NaagNatheshwara Temple located in Begur area of Bangalore. It is interesting not only from religious point of view but has a  history dating back at the time of Cholas. Indeed a must visit for  a travel buff or history lover.
 Begur is actually a small village which has turned into a small town in itself as DLF apartments and other constructions are booming at rocket speed. The area  boasts  of an old  church, ruins of a fort , Begur Lake and 1100 years old the NaagNatheshwara Temple on it's soil !

The NaagNatheshwara  temple is a calm and beautiful place  with the Begur lake as its background .It is the temple of Lord Shiva and has five lingams pratishthit in it .As I'm not fluent in reading  kannada script, the  three names I was able to decipher are- Vighneshwara, Naag Natheshwara , Choudeshawara and The Shiva-Shakti lingam .

The two domes of the Temple
All Shivalingams are worshipped by the devotees for differerent reasons like for Shiva-Shakti lingam, offerings are given for marital bliss, for another to cure from illness, one is worshipped for monetary reasons while the other for promotions and job related issues.

Etchings on stones

Being a Shive Temple it has a blooming Bilva  tree also.
 The temple in itself is beautiful made up of huge and heavy slabs of  black stone which the priest told as to be granite though with years and years of offering oil and fumes it has attained an uneven oily rocky look and  has gained that old world charm and mystique which is so hard to find in the spotless white marble temples of modern age.

Bilva Tree in the Temple compound
The Nandi bull

The new gate


Well in the temple compound
Inside the temple the lingams are separately put and  five separate small low-roofed rooms are there to reach there. After entering these rooms another smaller and narrower room is there in which entry is forbidden. these passage like room has a cage like  door on the other side.This door finally opens into the sanctum scrotum of the temple as the huge shiva-lingam is placed there inside it.Behind and above the lingam, on the back wall, an oil deepam   has been lit. The deepak is situated in the centre of a round mirrored object thus reflecting the flame and  illuminating the  lingam .

The view
All five lingams are placed in the same above said pattern and devotees can offer their prayers from the passage like mid room from where the big black lingams shine mysteriously under the mirrored  light of lamp!
 The outside of the temple is charming with a well and a small garden full of shrubs .A new temple gate sort of construction is also going on complete with white and grey elephants and mush intricate patterns on the towers. The old temple has patterns of ganas and yakshinis etc on its walls , roof and even steps! The annual  Ratha Yatra is held in the month of April on a grand scale for which the temple has scores of statues of horses , wood chariots and a   dashmukhi Ravan!
Beautifully etched  doors
The nandi sitting majestically carved in black is a sight to behold. I saw people whispering some thing in its ears and looking through its horns towards the lingam and tried the same but got  hurt in the head by the strong nandi bull instead. Guess I'v yet not learnt my lessons of religion well enough!
Carved Steps!

The route to the temple is simple enough for anybody coming from Majestic bus stand or Shivajinagar as the bus route no.342, 343 starts from the bus stand itself and will drop you right on the gates of the temple!
If coming by own vehicle then from silkboard go straight on hosur road till bommanahalli junction. Turn inside the Begur road and keep on going straight for about 4km. You will cross three petrol bunks , Chowdeshwari Temple on the way and near the Govt. Hospital you have to turn right (coming from bommanahalli) and  will find yourself at the temple gates!

So pay a visit to Devon ke Dev Mahadev - Lord Shiva.

P.S. Plz ignore my bad layout of pics and text .

Horse statue for Ratha Yatra

ग़ुलाब- The Rose

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