After a one month internship [January – 2017] at Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, [CHRI] New Delhi, I packed my Rucksack for a South India trip. South India has always fascinated me, unlike Mumbai or Delhi. I had been to South India once with a friend of mine in my class 11th winter break. We covered Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata in 11 days; staying two days in each city.
I booked a ticket in Duranto Express. Duranto [restless] is one of the special categories train run by Indian Railway. In some routes, it is even faster than Rajdhani and Shatabdi. The good thing about this train for budget travellers is that it has sleeper class also unlike Rajdhani.
Train was late by 24+ Hours
However, with all of its uniqueness, it was late from the source station itself [New Delhi] by more than 24 hours. As per the new time, it was scheduled to depart at around 4 am. I spend the whole night watching movies and reached Nizamuddin station via Uber cab service at around 3:40 am. The train was waiting on the platform.
As I was in Chennai for the second time seeing Chennai was not in my mind. I had to reach Pondicherry that day only. Buses for Pondicherry are available from Mofussil Bus Terminus. The city buses are available in front of the railway station for Mofussil Bus Terminus.
The Bus Conductor
The bus was quite empty. It just costs 5 Rupees. I just cross-checked by asking the bus conductor that I would be getting a bus to Pondicherry from Mofussil Bus terminus or not and after giving a positive response he showered a bucket of questions on me. From where you are? First time in Tamil Nadu? Came here to visit temples? I tried avoiding them by answering in one-two words.
The bus conductor went ahead in the bus, sat down, took out his pen, and started writing something on a paper. He came back to me after a few minutes with a list of destinations where I should go. The list contained the name of major temples in Tamil Nadu and he also cautioned to be aware from pickpocketers. Was he a good man?
It took around 20 minutes to reach Mofussil Bus terminus. It looked good. It’s interior was clean. I located a restaurant on the left side of the entry and had a Ghee Masala Dosa there. It was good and the price was also reasonable.
India’s Language Issue
All the destination names inside the bus station were written in Tamil. Think how Tamils felt when they find only Hindi? Language has always divided India and Indians and it’s a major problem of recent times. Banning regional languages is a highly controversial and debatable issue.
As I went inside the bus stand a semi-luxury bus was waiting to go to Pondicherry. The roads in Tamilnadu are quite well. The bus reached Pondicherry around 5 pm with a 10-minute halt in between.
The Rock Beach
The Rock Beach is located at 2.2 km and a half an hour straight walk from the bus station. As I just had a rucksack bag so I started walking towards the beach one can also take a shared auto which costs 10 rupees only. I arrived the beach by dusk. I sat half an hour beside the beach. Went below the dock where last Irfan Khan last met his girlfriend [Life of Pie].
Youth Hostel – Chennai
I knew about the Youth Hostel in Chennai and looked for it on the Google map and decided to go there to stay in the night. The Auto cost around 100 for Rock Beach to the Youth Hostel. It is 4.5 km from the beach.
The youth hostel is a good place to stay for a budget traveller if you have your own vehicle otherwise it is not preferable because of its location.
Next day, I went to the Paradise Beach. It’s a private beach and have a time limit of two or 3 hours and with a cost of 200 or 250 Rupees. After getting the ticket they would transport you to the beach via a ferry. Budget Travellers can go to the bus station and ask for bus to Paradise Beach. It would cost just 10 rupees. Otherwise one can hire an auto. The Paradise beach is very clean with lifeguards.
There was a family with me on the ferry, equipped with an SLR camera. As the old man saw her granddaughter taking pictures through her iPhone, he also took out his Nokia C200 to film or capture pictures. Does it say anything about being old?
After spending around two hours at the beach I came back to the bus station and went to a good looking restaurant nearby.
Off to Auroville
Next, I had to go Auroville. I asked for buses to Auroville at the bus station but could not find one. I did not wait and asked an auto-man if he would go to Auroville. He agreed for 300 Rupees.