Friday, 23 June 2017

Another one dedicated to the French!



Last year I visited this place and wrote about it and claimed that my exploration was incomplete. So, this year, a friend of mine (who is to get married soon) decided to have a mini bachelorette trip to Pondicherry. Initially we were 3 girls going on the trip (ZNMD style :P ), but you know, there is always someone who backs out at the last moment. Yes, we were just 2 girls riding on the streets of the French Capital of India

Rock Beach

I first flew from Bangalore to Chennai on the night of 16th June and spent the night at the luxurious Ibis, Chennai Sipcot. Next morning at 6 we caught a bus and now we were on our way to Pondicherry! 

We reached Pondicherry at 9:30 am. Since I am a member at Club Mahindra, we thought it was best to stay there. Little did we know, that the resort was almost 20km from the main city of Pondicherry. We had arranged a pick up from the bus stand to the resort, and we reached the resort hassle free! 

The resort is so damn beautiful you could spend a whole day there. 

Club Mahindra

They have their own restaurant, a swimming pool, spa, adventure sports like- bungee jumping (not literally, but that’s what they call it. I don’t know what it is actually called), quad biking, trampoline, zorbing, and many other sports like- cricket, badminton, volleyball, air hockey… and a lot of fun and games for children like magic shows, a game of housie in the night and dance classes.

The pool at the resort

In the night, they have a few events for all the guests present there. And to top it all, they have a PRIVATE BEACH. How cool is that!! 

The private beach


@the beach

Despite all the amenities, we decided to go to the main Pondicherry city. We caught a bus and got off at Aurobindo ashram. Around the ashram there are many shops that give you a cycle or a scooter on rent for a mere Rs300 per day. 

By the time, we hired a vehicle, we were very hungry. After reading a lot of “Must Visit” lists and doing a lot of research, we went to Kasha Ki Asha

Kasha Ki Asha

First impression was- WOW, who would think that such a tiny place could be made up so beautifully. The ambience is perfect with a blend of western and Indian culture. But did this place live up to our expectations?
The ambience at the cafe

The blend of cultures

Disappointment number 1: this place is pure vegetarian. Me, being a staunch Non-vegetarian was very disappointed.
Disappointment number 2: The pizza we ordered was plain and bland. The Pizza Dosai- which we were excited to try was nothing but dosa with the same bland pizza toppings, the food left us bitterly disappointed. We also tried their Iced tea, which again did not live up to our expectations.

Pizza and Pizza Dosai
Disappointment number 3: they sell really good stuff in their shop. But everything there is overpriced. We saw a beautiful scarf that according to me should not cost more than Rs700-800, but they had priced it 3200! What a waste!

Kasha ki Asha Gallery

The artifacts at the gallery
Pros: Their French Fries were fresh as ever (not frozen fries) , their fresh fruit juices is a must try, nowhere have I had fresher fruit juices. And the best thing here is their Chocolate pancakes, which was more like Choco-chip pan cakes, yet very tasty.
After relaxing at Kasha ki Asha we went to the famous-Casablanca Boutique, I did not find anything amusing there. They had all branded stuff that you will find in any major city of India. They had very few exclusive stuff.

Inside Casablanca

We also visited Auro boutique, which had more options of exclusive things to buy. We ended up buying some pretty handmade candles and a few more souvenirs.

Candles from the boutique
Now that the sun had begun to set, we hired a cycle (Rs75 per day only) and rode around White town.

CYCLE!!!

The roads are even, no ups and downs and it does not take a lot of effort to cycle on these streets. The cool breeze at the time of sunset boosts your energy to cycle even more.

The streets of Pondicherry at night

We also cycled on The Promenade, though it was very crowded, the experience was out of this world. I was adamant on visiting a church and so I visited the church I loved the most from my last visit- Eglise De Notre Dame Des Anges. The beauty of this church, has not failed to mesmerize me yet again!

Inside the church
We made one more stop at The Bay of Buddha, the rooftop restaurant of the hotel, The Promenade.

Hotel The Promenade

This place is so beautiful you could just sit there all night and do nothing. The ambience is flawless and the music they play complements the environment.

Bay of Buddha

Overseeing the light house and the rock beach, this place is ideal for a romantic date.

The View from Bay of Buddha

They have happy hours from 4pm to 7pm and it is totally worth the money. They give you 2 cocktails and a starter for just Rs599.
HAPPY HOURS!!!

The food is a bit different, they serve Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese. We ordered Vietnamese Spring roll, which was cold and did not appeal to our taste buds. We had Chicken lollypop (this came along with the 2 cocktails during Happy hours) which was extremely palatable and dim sums which were good enough.

video

By now we had no place left in our stomachs and straight away ordered dessert, the highlight of the day- Coconut and chocolate pot! It is basically cold chocolate mousse topped with a few pieces of coconut. It is by far the best chocolate mousse I have ever had, hands down!
After this, we resorted to our resort and had a relaxing night in the comfort of our club Mahindra rooms.

The room at Club Mahindra!
Day2: Ok, so this article is already too long so stay tuned for Part 2 :)
To be continued ……

Monday, 20 March 2017

Glistening Gokarna


After cancelling our plans innumerable times, this Maha Shivratri weekend we were determined to go. Even though a few people backed out at the last moment, 6 of us were undaunted and packed our bags and left. We reached Gokarna at 9:30 a.m. on 24th Feb.🌊

Kudle Beach!

We first set foot on Kudle beach, where we had to search for rooms to stay. Since it was a long weekend it was difficult to find rooms, finally we found hostel style rooms at Sea Rock beach shack and we decided to take it as we had no other option. As soon as we got our rooms, we freshened up smeared a layer of sunscreen on ourselves and first, sat down to eat something since we had not eaten anything since the previous night. Right beside sea rock shack is Sea View Shack and that’s where we had our brunch. The food was decent enough, we had pasta in red sauce, cheese and mushroom lasagne (YUMMY), chilli chicken, banana-Nutella pancakes, chicken biryani (not good enough) and the show stopper- Prawn sizzler. Delicious big prawns fried in a batter with some very palatable sauce and French fries.

Prawn Sizzler!
After a stomach, full sumptuous meal, we wanted to have a chilled beer to beat the scorching beach heat. Unfortunately, and to our surprise there was no beer available in the afternoon and they said that they serve alcohol only after 5p.m. 😞

The sun was right above our head πŸŒ…, we were sweating and the sand was burning our feet, but we could no longer hold it, and ran towards the sea. The beach is much cleaner than mainstream beaches of Goa.

Me, staring into the infinite sea!
Let me tell you something that you probably won’t find in any other blog on Gokarna. It looks like the foreigners have bid goodbye to Goa and made Gokarna their new vacation spot. I was surprised to see so many non-Indians, sunbathing in their bikinis and swim wear. Their bikinis caught a lot of unwanted attention from a few perverts, it was a sad and frustrating sightπŸ‘™.  I thought it was my duty as a citizen of India to protect those women from the perversion and the filth of their mind and tried my best to keep them away from women they were prying on. I was vigilant and went and sat beside those women and tried to make sure they were not harmed. “Athithi Devo Bhava”! πŸ™

Moving on from that seriousness, we played Frisbee and beach kabaddi, courtesy Dear Zindagi πŸ˜› until it was time for sunset. We shifted from Kudle to Om Beach to watch the sunset. The road leading to the main road from Kudle beach is a tiny trek away (not tiny for people not used to trekking).
OM Beach!
When we reached Om beach it was very crowded. No wonder people prefer Kudle beach.

Crowded route to Om beach.

Om beach, as one of my friends said- “looks like this beach is made for photography”. Large boulders, unintentionally shaped to perfection by the sea, it has got danger written all over but at the same time, it is the most beautiful thing I have seen since a very long time.😍

Seemed like the sun was very active and didn’t want to set. So while the sun was being stubborn, we pumped up some adrenaline and took to water sportsπŸ„. Jet skiing, Bumpy ride(scary) and no one had the guts to try the banana boat ride(in our defence, none of us know swimming and hence being scared is justified :P). We were craving for beer and tried our luck at the most famous, Namaste CafΓ©. We were unlucky for the second time as they said beer will be served only after 7p.m.😞
Jet Skiing!

Bumpy Ride πŸ˜„
The sun setting behind the rocks at Om beach is another sight that you should not miss. Gokarna undoubtedly shows you the most gleamingly colourful sunset, which is sure to leave you mesmerized.
The best sunset I have ever witnessed 😊
Soon we reached our rooms back and washed all the salty sand from our bodies and went out for dinner. I don’t remember the shacks name but it was the last shack on Kudle beach and near the Kudle to Om trekking route. We ordered a lot of starters, Chicken tikka (rubbery chicken), mushroom and baby corn tikka (okay-ish), prawn in butter garlic sauce (tasty little creatures), Fish rava fry ( the best among the starters). And it was here that we FINALLY got about a dozen bottles of beer to drink. Not very impressed with the starters, we asked the waiter what would be a nice option for dinner. We ordered Chicken Kolhapuri, as he suggested , rotis, dal fry and jeera rice. The food was delicious and unlike the starters. Finally, the icing on the cake was my recent favorite- Banoffee Pie(Lipsmacking). After tasting it at Place toBee, Ooty , this is what I order everywhere I go.
Butter Garlic Prawns

Banoffee Pie πŸ˜‹
 The bill was quite exorbitant but worth it. After dinner we sat at the beach for sometime gazing at the stars(since it was Amavasya, there was no moon :P ) and listening to the waves.

Day 2! I should say, this day was such a stress buster! We did nothing but relax at the beachπŸ˜”. We did not want to wander in search of shacks or food so we settled for sea view shack again. The whole day, that is from 11a.m. to 7p.m. we sat at the same shack, constantantly ordering food(chilli chicken, veg sizzler, chow Mein, veg sizzler, chilli chips- all very very appetizing!) , beer and playing chess! Yes, Chess!
Chess+Beer! 😁


At around 4p.m. we went on a boat ride. For 300rs per head they showed us 3 beaches. Om,Paradise and Half moon beach. Don’t forget to sit in the corner and touch the water, its an amazing feeling!

Boat Ride!

That amazing feeling!😌
After we got off the boat, me, being a prawns lover was very keen on eating a prawn pizza (something that you don’t get everywhere). Beside Sea View shack there is a “Old La Pizzeria”. We landed up there to have a delicious cheese and prawn pizza to satisfy my prawn cravings! So, we left Gokarna post the pizza on a damn delicious note! πŸ•
Beach+Sunset+Pizza= Perfect!

Sunset from La Pizzeria.

Some tips and facts



  • If you are going to Gokarna on a long weekend, do book your rooms in advance. If you’re visiting Gokarna on a normal weekend, you don’t have to book rooms in advance. You will get rooms easily.
  • You will see many people doing Yoga on the beach. You can join them.
    Yoga by the beach.
  • You will see many foreigners with bikinis on the beach. Please do not stare at them and make them feel uncomfortable. Remember, as I said before- “Athithi Devo Bhava”. 
  • Shacks on Kudle beach provide you with many games that you can play on the beach and in the shacks. Frisbee, carom, chess and many more games. You must ask the staff! 
  • Foreigners are very friendly, you can politely ask them if you can join them in their game of Frisbee or anything else.
    video


  • Don't stick to clichΓ©d shacks like namaste cafΓ©, try to explore. There is much more to Gokarna cuisine. 
  • It is good to have a person who speaks Kannada, with you. When I asked the man who took us boating, he said 300rs per head. And when I asked him to reduce it he said- “Since you spoke in Kannada I said 300rs, if someone speaks in Hindi or English I would have said 400 or 450!”
  • Beach stuff like clothes, braids, jewellery is expensive. Do bargain.
    Got colorful braids done 😊
  • Post sunset, there will be a jamming session by the foreigners. Music, dance and they even set up small stall from where you buy stuff(again, do bargain), speak to them and know more about them. 
    video
  • Lastly, if you are looking for a Goa like vibe or party destination, Gokarna is not the place for you. Gokarna is only for those who want to take a break from hectic work schedules and relax! 

Definitely going back soon!



 Cheers! πŸ·πŸ™Œ