After leaving Sadhana, we have visited Pondicherry and Madurai in India before going to Sri Lanka for the second month of our journey in Asia.
Pondicherry (Puducherry) is a small settlement, which was a colony of France before. It’s tidy, clean and calm streets still has the French spirit. We feel like we are travelling in a small town in Mediterranean while we were walking in the French Quarter with elegant boutique shops.
Botanical Garden next to the train station is a nice and informative recreation area. You can take a short tour with the tiny train in it and travel in your childhood.
Another important spot of the city is Lakshmi, the Ganesh Temple which is at the center of the city. Even though it has nothing interesting but the poor elephant who is brought here every day about 4 pm, it is a place visited by many people. Sri Aurobindo Ashram that is close to the temple is founded by Sri Aurobindo, the creator of the idea of Auroville with The Mother, who played an important role in Indian History. Now it serves as a museum for visitors…
Besides the open canalization passing through the middle of the city, the clean view of Pondicherry is seen in restaurants also. Food in the restaurant called Bombay Anandha Bhaven, in which we usually ate, is pretty tasty and affordable. There is another Anandha Bhaven, closer to the temple, which is more “touristic”.
For accommodation, we recommend Natura Ashram. The guesthouse, with the option of private and shared rooms, is both cheap and clean. The founder of the Ashram is trying to create a wide range cultural awareness especially with the youth. Even though he couldn’t achieve his dream of an Ashram in which free workshops and courses are organized, he continues trying new ways. One can get very precious information from him while helping him to water the flowers on the rooftop.
The settlement around Natura Ashram is an avenue, where the traditional life is still alive. Luckily, we ran into an important full moon of the year and fascinated by the art called “kollam”, practiced by women by drawing in of the gates, and the night which turns out to a light festival with the fireworks and candles everywhere.
We would like rest a bit more. But, in Madurai we found ourselves in the middle of the mass of a big city, where we reached after a train journey of 6 hours. Just because of the airport is there, from which we would fly to Sri Lanka, and because of the only transportation is plane between two countries which gets close to each other in the place called Adam’s Bridge.
Even the hotel we stayed for the first night in Madurai was out of our budget, we found a middle-class hotel the day after. Cheap hotels are in very bad condition.
The most important place in Madurai is the huge temple in the middle of the city. It is one of the most important Hindu temples in Southern India.
But we were impressed more by Gandhi Museum which is a bit far out of the city center. The museum is both free and also intellectually satisfying by the detailed description of History of India. Also the cloth of Gandhi which he was wearing when he was assassinated, that is kept like a “relic”, is in this museum!
After one month we spent just in Tamil Nadu province of India, we pass to the other shore, to Sri Lanka, which is an island country.