Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pondicherry Peek

So just when I thought my last trip while living in India would be the big 9-day long whirlwind tour of Asia, Curly and Pamelita (Michael & Pam) asked me if I'd like a short hop over to Pondicherry (also known as Puducherry) --a cozy French-Indian city on the east coast of India. Of course I went! Another Target teammate, Gail--who was visiting from corporate HQ--joined us, and the four of us had a fantastic weekend in this quaint little Indian town.

We decided to endure the 6-hour road trip and had Pam's driver, Prakash, take us in the Innova. During the journey we watched movies on Curly's laptop, relaxed to songs on the iPod, talked, laughed, and (of course) napped :o) It felt good to take a short break from the buzz of Bangalore and hit the open road. Along the way through Tamil Nadu (the state we traveled into from Karnataka), we saw all sorts of typical sights--animals of every size and color, temples, mountains, amazing rock formations (Tamil Nadu is known for it's amazing rocks and hills), and several cities beginning to set-up for the upcoming Divali holiday--lots of colors, lights, and flowers everywhere.

In Pondicherry we had a wonderful time walking along the beach (I still have a huge heart for the ocean!), visiting the local markets, receiving blessings from elephants (!) and running to avoid the rain. We ended up staying in an amazing hotel, the Hotel Le Dupleix--appropriately named after the 18th century French Governor, Joseph Francois Dupleix. This colonial villa has now been converted into 14 suites complete with many pieces of the original woodwork and furniture. Beautiful, indeed. The hotel had an amazing restaurant and the food was delicious. The French left behind a great legacy, especially in the area of culinary delights :o)

Besides lots of walking and shopping Pondicherry, we headed up to Auroville--a spiritual city and meditation center located just about 20 minutes north of the town--stunning! We learned all about the projects undertaken in Auroville and learned more about this amazing vision that's been carried on for years. A visit to Auroville wouldn't be complete without seeing the Matrimandir--a brilliant spiritual meditation center consisting of a golden dome with a special interior... read the link to learn more. We walked around the city, had a fantastic lunch and shopped for homemade incense, candles, and oils at the many boutiques. A great afternoon!

On the roadtrip back to Bangalore we stopped at Tiruvannamalai, the largest temple complex in India reflecting the glory of late Dravidian Style of the Pandya period. The temple city was full of people praying, children singing, and a host of mischievous monkeys (see the gallery). We got a full tour of a few temples, received our blessings from the priests (with a tikka, or spot of ash and red turmeric powder, on the forehead), and had a chance to explore the rich history of Hindu philosophy. This was another site not to miss! Needless to say we were all bushed after another 6-hour road trip, but the weekend was so well worth it--plus I got to take another 200+ snaps.

So now here comes the time to "wind down"... as I write this note I only have 4 days left in India (*sigh*) and what an amazing adventure it has been. I will continue to blog as I travel around the world so stay tuned. Also, I will try to post another blog note before I leave on Thursday, but it looks like the chapter in my India book is coming to a close. Wow. I can't believe that 12 months have passed so quickly! It's true what they say, "Time flies when you're having fun." I've been having the time of my life--and it's been worth every day and every moment.

Namaste.

6 comments:

Mike and Mike said...

Mike,

Funny, I never would have expected your departure to sadden me as much as it did. Hearing you are leaving Thursday made my heart jump. I guess I never realized how much I enjoyed living your travels vicariously.

Ah well...maybe they'll send you to China next? Or as a cruel joke...Pittsburgh...lol.

Mike A.

Rob Holloway said...

I would have to agree with Mike, I have really loved living your adventures with you through your blog. I can't believe your year is already over! Safe travels back to Minneapolis.

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting thanks for coming to our school!

Anonymous said...

This blog is really cool and thank you for the presentation at my school, it was very interesting.
-ryder

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Thank you for taking time out of your schedule and visiting with our class. It was nice how you didn't always stay on track, you kind of talked about things that weren't on you slide, but still relevant to what we were learning. You were an upbeat speaker, and it was easy to pay attention. Thanks again, it was very interesting!!!

Hailey J
Mr. Manning's 5th hour geography

Anonymous said...

Thank you for coming to our school and talking to our class and sharing your experience with us.