In General

Snapshots from Madras – Pondicherry Cycling Trip

We started off from Chennai at 5:00 AM. The meeting place was the Thiruvanmiyur Bus Depot. This meant that I had to wake up at 4:00 AM to get to the rendezvous from my home. As luck would have it, as soon as I reached the starting point, my brake snapped off. This meant that I had to make the whole journey without brakes. As if it wasn’t interesting already !!

We made good ground taking advantage of the cool morning. Here’s us taking a breather at a resting point on ECR. (East Coast Road)

This helmet has been my companion for a real long time.

After lunch, we took a siesta at an old lady’s shop who was kind enough to let us use her place. Over mosquitoes and a really loud ‘loud speaker’ nearby, we managed to catch a 20 minute power nap. That greatly helped.

After nearly 13 hours on the road, we finally reached the place. Actually, not yet. We still had another 10 kms more to go. Those smile tells you nothing about creaking joints and sore painful butts.

We were tired. We were hungry. We were thirsty… for beer. We took refuge at a nice little shack that cost Rs.600 for the night that also had a roof restaurent nearby. We downed a few beers and ate to our fill and quickly hit the sack.

Fresh from a good night’s rest, we headed off to Auroville, our destination. We took it nice and easy, checking out interesting spots. This pic snapped at a kintergarden school on the way. Notice one of our guys on the tree.

The architecture at Auroville is outstanding.

We noticed a bunch of kids playing volleyball and joined them. They needed more hands and was only happy having us gatecrash their game. It was an hour of wonderful play. Ofcourse, the kids trashed us plain and square.

An interesting road side temple on the way.

This is our abode for the next three nights. It’s a dome in the middle of a community garden. We had an extremely hospitable Russian lady who played host and helped us a lot.

What would we ever do without the map. With forests all over and winding lanes, you could easily get lost. The map came in extremely handy and helped us explore some very interesting places.

Here’s us cycling through the forest. 30 years ago, this was a red sand desert. I’m told that it was a barren land and one could look into the ocean which is 10 kms away. When it rained, the red soil would get washed away into the ocean which would turn red. The Auroville volunteers have created a man-made forest. Over 2 million trees have been planted which has completely changed the place.

Here’s a house bang in the middle of the forest. There’s no wired electricity. Only solar energy and water gets pumped through a windmill. It’s like going back in time.

Talking about going back in time, we visited a place which is the epitome of simple living. We visited the organic farm of a london guy who has lived in Auroville for the last 13 years. He cooks food grown in his farm. The manure is from his and his cattle’s waste. Yes, he turns his own shit into manure and adds it back. We volunteered time here cutting cow grass for feeding the cows.

The fire place getting ready for cooking dinner.

We had dinner made of vegetables freshly plucked from the farm. You can’t get any fresher than that.

Over the next three days, we checked out many interesting places by foot. Here’s interesting amphitheatre with a cushion of grass.

Notice the roof of the house.

Love the way how people respect recycling of waste. The wording on the garbage bin says it all.

Beautiful natural houses.

At the Solar Kitchen where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch. Yes, the food was cooked using solar energy.

A nice house with a typical village architecture.

The Matrimandir.

… has been in construction for the last thirty years. The golden scales have now been complete.

A bed of lotuses along the way.

Beautiful, eh!

Cottage houses that house guests.

The town hall. Quite a modern looking one. Stands right in front of the matrimandir.

It was pouring cats and dogs. Rain or Shine, we went around enjoying the place.

A rock garden.

When it rained in the mornings andevenings, it shined nicely during the afternoons.

Halcyon. That’s the word that describes this place. A couple taking a leisurely stroll.

The place has fallen in love with flowers. Aurovillians adore flowers.