Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pondy & Mama

I stayed in the Government guesthouse, a large rather ramshackle place when I first arrived in Pondicherry, hmm who built these locks??. Pondi, is a former French colony where the police men wear funny red caps. Not sure whether the guy that got on the bus with the huge double-barrelled shotgun was a policeman or not, he didn't have a hat, still I decided to stay out his way.
Pondicherry is roughly split into the French town at the seafront and the Tamil town behind.

For my first meal I ordered the garcon to bring me the finest coq au vin!
Nothing special actually. In Indian you get exactly what's on the menu, which I forget sometimes so you just get a plate of chicken with no veg or anything, you have to order all side dishes.

At night all the Pondicherriens go for a stroll along the seafront, with the good sign. Passing a statue of Gandi. While strolling along I came across a small musical performance with a couple of drummers and two people playing a long flared flute-like instrument but played straight in front on the musician. Also they had several reeds tied to the mouthpiece which they could swap in and out. It was quite good for a free concert!

Another day I hired a bicycle and set off for Auroville ( Eventually I got there and had a look around the visitor centre. It seemed to very reverential towards the founder, a strange place. Never found out how they got their hands on the massive diamond which is in the meditation hall, although the hall isn't open to visitors.

After a few days I hopped on the bus for a couple of hours heading north to Mamallapuram. Here there is the Shore Temple situated, yep you guessed it, closed to the sea. A large wall had been erected around the temple to prevent further erosion from the sea.

Also in Mamallapuram there is a monument called the Five Rathas. These are all carved from a single large rock. You can see the rockbed joining them together. Seems a hard way of doing things, but at least you don't have to move the carvings! Still if you want to carve an elephant the hard way...

I nipped up a few steps to a viewpoint across Mamallapurm but not really a great view.

In a restaurant I was given a menu which looked about twenty years old and barely readable, it turned out that this had been caused by the tsunami which swept into the restaurant.

I didn't stay as long as I had planned in Pondicherry or Mamallapuram so I had some extra time in which I could nip over to Hampi and back, a roundtrip of about 1700km!

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