Days of rest in Pondicherry
Trip Start Nov 29, 2013
17Trip End Jan 09, 2014
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The VOC people that lived in Sadraspatnam used this mountain to escape the heat at the fort there. The result is that there are Dutch inscriptions in the granite walls, halfway and near the kitchen on the top. Bauke van der Pol reports that they date from 1662 tot 1818. A sort of graffiti avant la lettre.
The name of the Shiva temple is Vedagiriswarar temple, in Tirukkalikundram, 15 kilometres away from Mahaballipuram
We drove back to Mahaballipuram and we decided to have lunch there. Chris knew a good place and we had a delicious meal of fresh shrimps at a rooftop restaurant on the beach, overlooking the temple in the sea. We were also lucky to see a local fishers boat manoeuvring through the pretty strong waves, landing on the beach. A catch of fish is being carried away from another boat that must have come in just before.
After lunch it took us another three hours to complete the 145 kilometres to Pondicherry. There we are in the new Atithi hotel, where we have a spacious room, swimming pool on the roof and a gym where we occasional work out. We have four nights resting in Pondicherry, now called Puducherry.
Both Chris and I have been here before and we are surprised how busy the Marine boulevard now is, filled with Indian tourist, many young people from Bangalore
Rue de la Marine is one of many French remains in the French quarter in Pondicherry., which was French until 1954. All the grey houses in the French quarter here are owned by the Sri Aurobindo ashram. Our Hindu guide Murty is not too happy with that. He is also pretty critical about the many Europeans at Auroville, who he feels are hampering the traditional Indian culture.
We first visit the Sri Manakula Vinayagar temple in town. And we drive around the French quarter, as Chris wants to find the furniture shop from which he bought quite a few of the beautiful wooden furniture in 1998 for his house in Holland. Today we found this shop, the owner still recognized Chris. We now saw a beautiful wooden cupboard that can be folded out into a bar. Chris was tempted, but took measurements to check whether it fits at his house.
Auroville and the Matirmandir
The tour continues 8 kilometres out from Pondicherry to Auroville, a city in the make in south-India since 1968, dedicated to human unity, and based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
The walk to the Matirmandir and the old banyan tree near it is one kilometre. The temple appears from a distance in the green and it is a magnificent sight. Unfortunately tourists are not allowed in anymore. Chris has been here at least 10 times because he was interested in the architecture and how it developed. It has been built with an opening in the roof through which the sun falls in a creation way.
The renowned French architect Le Corbusier had a plan for Auroville that only partly materialized. This was due to rivalry between the ashram people and Auroville. In the end the Indian government stepped in to settle the conflict. Chris is also interested in Sri Aurobindo, who was a freedom fighter against the British,
The Auroville charter is as follows and I quote:
- "Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
- Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
- Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future
- Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity. “
In the evening we walk along the Marine Boulevard and had an ice coffee at Le Café. We regularly hear “hello" right behind us or next to us, thinking that someone wants to ask us something. A second later we see someone pass talking in a mobile phone.
We have lovely dinners at Le Club and the Maison Rose in the French quarter. Christmas is nearing, also in India, we notice in the hotels.
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