It was one of those weeks which were just so uneventful that I had to make something happen. So I decided to go on a little adventure. What better and more convenient than my own backyard. Pondicherry was the immediate choice, seeing as I live in Chennai.
Now as much as I love to live the slow life and have discussions unfold in cafes while sipping a chai and munching on some form of carbs, (or more realistically, knock back a few cold beers ) I figured there’s got to be something off the beaten path.
Some pinterest scrounging and youtube hunting later, I discovered a hidden gem by way of a mangrove forrest about four and half hours from Chennai. We hired a cab and booked a room for a night with Pondicherry as a base.
Pichavaram Mangrove Forest is in the Chidarambaram district roughly 230 Kms from Chennai. We left Chennai at 7 am, stopped for breakfast for 30 mins and made it to Pichavaram by 12pm . We made good time because it was a thursday and traffic was sparse. Getting there is pretty fun , the little streets were dotted with bright candy coloured houses.
Once we got to the TTDC run boating spot , we bought tickets for a motorboat. It was an 8 seater but my sister and I were the only ones , so we bore the full price of the boat. I would suggest this option as it comes with a shaded roof and not only does this provide respite from the heat, it also protects you from some of the more gnarlier bits of the Mangrove itself.
Since we were DSLR camera toting city folk, the Boat driver (?) offered to take us to the ‘illegal’ parts of the mangrove to get better , more adventurous footage. While it was not the best decision, and I did get literally bushwhacked, and came close to having an eye gouged out I still regret nothing.
The calm of the water, the wild way of the mangrove and the jade green of the scene was so soul stirringly lovely. It was definitely something , I’m glad we ventured to do.
After an hour of exploring and braving the branches of the mangrove, we got back in our car and headed back to Pondicherry. It took us about one and a half hours . We were famished and ready to ravage some food. We went to a lovely cafe in White Town, called The Coromandel Cafe.
The walls were a calming green (theme of the trip?) and decorated with beautiful botanical murals in white . The showstopper was a dramatic and stunning chandelier bang in the centre of the room, made out of fabric. Loved the vibe. We chose to sit indoors because- air conditioning! but the out doors were equally lovely.
Then we checked into out hotel – Ville Helene. Also in White town. Just the most convenient location if you are staying for a short time like we were. Villa Helene was a charming bungalow set in a small garden where the restaurant and bar was . Our room was on the first floor which was flanked by a old school verandah complete with cane furniture. The decor was mellow and minimal. Just blues and greens, easy on the eyes.
We took a short nap and showered and headed out for some drinks and dinner. Our first stop was Villa Shanti, which was nothing to write home about . We went back to Villa Helene and enjoyed some wine and conversation. The slow life is certainly a luxury.
The next day we were keen to make it back to Chennai by later afternoon, so after a quick breakfast , we made our way back to Chennai.
There we made a pitstop for some spicy seafood at our favourite beach shack restaurant – Santana in Mahabalipuram. Now , it’s nothing fancy but the food is good and the view overlooking the vast ocean is even better.
And then it was back home. Such a great little getaway and time well spent.
You can watch a vlog of the trip here: