Tag Archives: Bengaluru

Making of paddu: Stage 2

Dunk Slurp Lick Smack

I lost a bet related to writing. The bet was to treat a friend if I didn’t complete writing an article in the stipulated time. What was the treat? Food. Since I had never been to the famed Food Street of V V Puram in Bengaluru, I told my friend that he will be fed there. I had always seen this lane in pictures of others, but had never seen it live in action.

When I neared this lane, it looked like every other lane at its business, glowing in the lights announcing every shop. I realised I was wrong only when I entered the lane. The whole lane was flanked with street food shops on both the sides. People stood carefree and sumptuously ate. Ee Janumave Ahaa Dorakide Ruchi Saviyalu (This life is given to enjoy the taste), a song from a Kannada movie Oggarane (means seasoning or tempering) started playing in the background, well in my mind. It was a difficult choice for us to decide from where we would start to eat. After looking around perplexed, we decided to eat the food that is not made at home or easily available everywhere, and not to eat more than one kind of food at the same shop. Most of the shops offered the same dosa, idli, vada and potato twister/twisted chips. So, we started hunting for the kind of food we wanted.

We ordered a plate of curd kodbale. The usual kodbale are the deep fried rings made of rice flour and spices. As the name suggests, curd kodbale have curd mixed while kneading the dough to give softness to the otherwise crispy junk. They were served with chickpea chutney. Hot, mouth watering curd kodbale gave us a good start.

Curd Kodbale with Chickpea Chutney

Curd Kodbale with Chickpea Chutney

While eating kodbale, I saw pav buns stuffed with red coloured curry and stacked in the shop on the opposite side of the lane. I thought that must be spicy. They are called Dhabeli. I don’t know their origin, but they turned out to be sweet. A plate of Dhabeli has one set of pav i.e. four buns with the red sweetish curry stuffed between the top and the bottom buns, garnished with bhujia, and served with green chillies and chopped onions. It was so filling that we feared we might not be able to eat more.

Dhabeli

Dhabeli

We went zigzag looking for the next stop. At a tiny outlet, we ordered Kurkure Masala, but we received Piknik Masala! Same spicy and crunchy rice crispies but in different shapes. Piknik crispies already have a good flavour, but with all the chaat masala and chopped tomato and onions, the little finger sized cowboys turned lip smacking delicious.

From there we went to have paddu. You might argue that paddu are easily available and can be made at home too. But let me tell you something. You need a different mould for paddu to be made at home, we don’t have them with us and they are not made at my home. So, you get my point. I had seen the paddu mould. I had even seen its batter. But I had never seen their making. It was a blissful moment to watch them being made, especially how they were turned upside down. Paddu look so cute! They are like chubby babies, but served with chickpea chutney.

Making of paddu: Stage 1

Making of paddu: Stage 1

Making of paddu: Stage 2

Making of paddu: Stage 2

Stage 3: Paddu

Stage 3: Paddu

Our last stop was at a juice and ice cream shop. Apparently, my friend had already tried something there long back, so he asked for one ice cream with gulkand. Gulkand is almost a paste of rose petals soaked in sugar syrup and stored for weeks. We ate a scoop of butterscotch ice cream with pieces of apple and banana, and of course gulkand. Dessert ends the day. Sorry, I forgot to take the pictures of Piknik Masala and ice cream. We were busy eating. Why don’t you go and check out the Food Street for yourself? It has food for everyone’s taste. You get varieties of street food to choose from. You eat from a shop at one end of the lane, walk to the other end, eat there again and walk back. Repeat. This way you shall move around with an idea of sweating it out and not feel guilty of eating more.

We Don’t Know At What We Should Laugh

We Don’t Know At What We Should Laugh

I won’t beat around the bush with this blog. What I am writing about now should have stopped beating around the bush a long time ago. Many people have spoken and written about this before me, but they all have been made fun of by calling them feminists. Sadly, being a feminist is not something to be laughed about unless that person has got it totally wrong. Some of you reading this blog will laugh at me. It is okay though it shouldn’t be. What I am writing here is for everybody but very few will understand it. Of those few who will understand, there will be those who ignore it.

Today, there were many posts shared of Facebook related to something Lemon Tree did. For those who don’t know, Lemon Tree is a hotel in Bengaluru. The posts they shared were about a joke pasted on the wall of this hotel. Here it is. This picture is taken from a related post.

Lemon Tree Joke

Lemon Tree Joke

Image source: The Ladies Finger

The posts were about how the joke is sexist and promotes rape culture, and the cool brigade asked the media to take a chill-pill. If you read the joke and laughed at it, then please don’t read further because you will be one of those who will not understand what I write here. If you insist on reading, then you will be offended.

If you laughed at this joke in the picture, then you failed to understand the dark and insensitive place from where it arises. What the man does at the end of the joke symbolises domestic violence and marital rape. That is exactly what the other posts have been talking about in case you still haven’t understood. Hoping that you are reading my blog right now to genuinely understand what this is all about, I shall try to break it down for you. Let’s start with how we are dealing with domestic violence and marital rape in India. We had Ghanti Bajao campaign to stop domestic violence. Ring the doorbell and stop domestic violence. That was the essence of it. Yay! Why not ring the doorbell to the brains of abusive men? And about marital rape? There are people asking what it is. Why do people ask such questions? Because once married, women are properties of men and they can be used as men want, mainly for housekeeping and sexual gratification. I agree there is a creed of men who have evolved beyond this for the betterment of our society, but there are also men who can’t register in their testosterone doped brains that women are not “properties.” Asking what marital rape is like congratulating a rape survivor on losing her virginity if she had not lost it already.

You might argue this content generating media company is of low grade and so are its followers. But aren’t these followers living amongst us. You might argue that I don’t have a sense of humour, but I ask you what do you laugh at? When you laugh at something it is because you take it lightly. This joke at which you laughed is what you have taken lightly and gradually becomes acceptable because nobody frowns at it and it should not cause any problem. Of course you don’t care where it comes from. You think no husband will literally throw his wife to a gorilla, but there are chances that he might beat her up instead because she excused herself from sex citing headache. In Hindi, this is called Khade Laude Pe Dhoka. If you need translation, it means cheating over a hard-on. Of course, when men objectify women for sexual satisfaction, her illness becomes an excuse she is using to avoid having sex with the man. If you think she is avoiding having sex with you, then think why? It isn’t like women don’t have libido. Women just want sex to be good. So, she might be avoiding sex with you because she doesn’t want to hurt the ego of a male chauvinist pig by saying you are not good at it. She might even have an affair to satisfy herself and she doesn’t want to rot the endorphins liberated by rolling over the bed with you. Then why don’t you just divorce her and get a sex doll from China (oh no, I am not talking about the Chinese girls who look like dolls) and satisfy yourself if sex is all you need from a marriage? That doll won’t say no. See, that’s where it comes from. This joke came from a man, a husband, who couldn’t take a no from his wife, a woman. When a man cannot take a no from a woman, he feels his manhood is at stake or is questioned because a woman, who is supposed to be his subordinate, rejected his advances and he tries to bring her down by violating her or insulting her. It is another discussion, as written in my previous blog, that there is no “authentic” reason to rape a female.

If this is too much about husbands, then let me tell you about a boyfriend I had. It was back in the year 2010 when I was in Chennai on training. I was waiting to return to Bengaluru. I was returning to my PG (not parental guidance, but paying guest) accommodation. It wasn’t very late at night and was around 8:30pm, a presumably acceptable time for girls to return to their nests and be good girls. It was through a residential area that I had to walk. This area is in the vicinity of Thiruvanmiyur, one of the posh areas in Chennai, located on the East Coast Road (ECR) that takes you to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry. In that residential area, under a street light, in front of a house stood a man wearing helmet next to his motorbike. I was at a point where if I took a left I would run into him and if I took a right I would walk half a kilometre more to my place. I took a right turn. This man said “Excuse me” and I turned around. He pulled out his penis and asked “Do you want this?” I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. If I had screamed, this man would have escaped on his motorbike before any Samaritan turned up. If I had tried to get hold of him, I don’t know what he would have done when I neared him. I said “No, thank you” and walked away. That wasn’t the worse thing. The worse thing was in the morning when I told my then boyfriend, and now thankfully an ex, about what happened. He laughed at it and made fun of me by asking me to enact how that helmet man waved his penis at me. Yes, he made it a laughing stock. But there was also our common friend who understood the seriousness of the situation and told he would drop me to my place in the evening just to avoid such encounters again. Yes, there are good men too and I haven’t been generalising all this while in case you haven’t read properly since the beginning. So, yes, men don’t know what to laugh at when it comes to women.

People who commented on the posts regarding Lemon Tree today, including women, are a part of a herd that wants to laugh at everything and make it sound cool, make themselves sound cool. Or is it kewl? Laughing at something only brings down the seriousness of it. But there are also people who understood what is wrong with that “joke.” There are jokes and there are matters that are passed as jokes. Know the difference. Know what can be a laughing stock. I know there will be comments on my blog too saying how morose a creature I am, but then such comments will only prove my point.

Image source: The Conversation

Accident

In the Wake of…

My day was good. This is what I thought when I stepped out of my office after signing out. There wasn’t much to do today. In fact, in the last hour considered to be well within the working hours, I tried solving today’s Crossword in Deccan Herald. Lately, I have stopped reading “the news” as I cannot relate to them anymore. Someone should launch me to outer space. If you have read my blog, Memories Are A Necessity, then you would know that the nearest bus stop to my workplace is about a kilometre away. I was happy to be on my way back home early. The traffic was as usual on a National Highway. Just like every day, I tried carefully crossing the highway. I crossed one side and reached the road-divider. Right opposite to where I stood impatiently is an intersection where the service road meets the highway. All I could see from my point of view were the speeding vehicles moving towards the city from the Bengaluru International Airport and a privately owned bus rashly charging ahead like a bull. The number of vehicles reduced, and I moved to the middle of the lane just as the privately owned bus and a motorbike moved ahead together. As I looked to my left to check if any other vehicles are nearing me when I heard someone anxiously calling out loud. I thought that bull of a bus rammed into that motorbike ridden by a man with a young girl in the pillion. I was wrong.

The motorbike had hit an old man and all three of them, along with the motorbike, had slid for about 20 feet further on the highway. All this happened in a matter of two seconds as I gawked and by the time I ran towards them, the man and the girl pushed away their motorbike and got back on their feet. I ran towards the old man who laid face down on the hot and glistening tar. I tried to pull him up and thankfully another Samaritan came along to help. Together we dragged this old man, and we made him sit with his back against the barricades lining the sides of the highway. That’s when I saw that he was bleeding in his face and badly bruised. Still conscious, he was wounded near his eye on the right side and the cut ran down to his cheekbones. Thin fragile man, who must be in his 50s, would have gone blind if he was hit in the eye instead of the side of the eye. I looked back to find more people helping the motorist and the girl move to the side of the highway to avoid further accidents. They were not badly hurt and had escaped with minor scratches.

While we were making them drink water and help them stay conscious, passing-by vehicles were slowing down and stopping to get a glimpse of what happened. We had already called for an ambulance, but there were none in sight. We were calling out for auto rickshaws to help us take the old man, the motorist and the girl to a nearby hospital, but none came forward. People, who stopped by to watch, turned their vehicles around and went their way when we asked them to help us. Finally, we blocked the way of an auto rickshaw and forced the driver to take them to the nearest hospital.

Though there were none clicking selfies or good pictures of the accident scene, it was a plight that people didn’t come forth and help the actual needy. It is not a big deal you give alms to beggars who have all their body parts and standing straight while begging and can actually work hard to make a living. Does your conscience not prick you when you face off from the scene of need? I witnessed it today the extent of indifference and stupidity of our society.

While I ran towards the old man, I saw the motorist and the girl get back on their feet. What shocked me was that the girl who must be a teenager stood up in the middle of the highway and cried instead of reaching the roadside for safety. She is flapping her arms, hopping in her place and wailing. Parents, or just adults, please teach children to be brave and to think on their feet, especially teach young girls when to be girly or graceful and when to shed their image and save their lives. Later others had dragged the girl to the side of the highway. You can say I am judging a teenage girl, but if another racing vehicle had hit her, then all we would do is pity her and her family.

Before the motorbike hit the old man, I had not even observed him. To be frank, I know not from where he came. Maybe he got down from the speeding bus and tried to cross the highway in the same momentum. I knew for sure that the motorist was not speeding. The sudden appearance of the old man from behind the bus must have startled him. Later another man came into the picture. This man turned out to be a friend of the bruised old man and was with him when the motorbike hit his friend. I didn’t ask him what exactly happened and all those journalism questions. This man asked his wounded friend to get up and walk. There is a wounded man unable to even talk and his friend is what, a moron? He made me wonder if his brain was in a state of shock for he asked a stupid thing to do.

On top of all these happenings, there are onlookers who give their expert opinions about what happened without being of any help. They are the actual nuisance. With still no signs of an ambulance, I left the spot with blood-stained clothes after sending the accident victims to the nearby hospital.

Auroville

Back to the Bay

Pondicherry or Puducherry fondly referred to as Pondi, is a good place to be, in fact, exquisite, and has very nice and helpful people if you ignore a few. We had fixated our long due gal-pal trip destination on this most famous leisure heaven on the shores of Bay of Bengal. Pondicherry is easily accessible from Chennai and Bengaluru. Anisha, Harinakshi and I had made our itinerary clear. One of the criteria was “no temple and no church visits.” We have nothing against them; we were disinterested in them. So, you won’t get to read about temples and churches in my blog. Anyway, I don’t think people go there to pray. Welcome to the cheap booze and food nest! Welcome to India’s Eastern counterpart of Goa! Welcome to the French capital of India!

We had breakfast at PeepIn Bakery and Restaurants. The speciality of Pondicherry is you will find many bakeries that serve good food and have a place to sit and eat. We ordered Classic Chicken burgers and Chicken Sandwiches to eat along with lime juice and coffee to drink.

Classic Chicken Burger at PeepIn in Pondicherry

Classic Chicken Burger at PeepIn in Pondicherry

After filling our fuel tanks, we hired two two-wheelers and filled their fuel tanks too. Commuting by auto-rickshaws in Pondicherry is expensive as auto drivers will loot you in broad daylight. Commuting by local bus service is a nightmare. You better hire a two-wheeler, four-wheeler or bicycle. The best option is a road trip by your own vehicle to Pondicherry. We were lucky to get our hands on the last two two-wheelers in the rental shop on that Good Friday weekend.

On the morning of day one, we headed towards Auroville. It is about 15km from the city centre of Pondicherry. Google Maps doesn’t work well in Auroville, so heads up. A township that hosts people of various nationalities, Auroville restricts nobody looking for peace, spirituality and soul-searching. It propagates no religion, so we were happy being there. Founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, a French lady referred to as the Mother by followers, residents of Auroville lead their day-to-day lives there based on the principles of Sri Aurobindo. The concept is to house people of different nationalities in peace and harmony. Of course, Auroville is also infamous for various reasons, but you don’t get to see them there as those reasons created no problem for anybody in and out of this township. You get the whole history or get to see the making of Auroville in a video, of 15-20 minutes duration, at the Visitor Centre.

Auroville Visitors Centre

Auroville Visitors Centre

All the tourists or those who want to stay and register for any course or activity there, have to report at the Visitor Centre. This is the commercial hub of the township where you find a cafe, restaurant, boutiques, booking and registration centres. I even found a bookshop here.

Bookshop at Auroville Visitors Centre

Bookshop at Auroville Visitors Centre

Me happy-happy! You can find shops that sell handmade products of expensive as well as affordable prices, pleasing everyone. But Auroville emphasises on basic necessities by providing restrooms there. I mean seriously! There are many public places where tourists and travellers have to control peeing and pooping, squirming in their spots unable to find decent toilets.

After watching the introductory video of Auroville, we got free passes to go to the viewing point of Matrimandir, the famed golden globe meditation and yoga hall, hidden from the eyes of the people who are too busy to even take a break.

On the way to Matrimandir in Auroville

On the way to Matrimandir in Auroville

To onlookers, Matrimandir appears to be majestic orb covered with many small golden orbs. It is more like a mother ship. If you stand at the viewing point, you won’t understand its significance and will probably just end up taking a lot of pictures trying to perfect your selfies. This is why the authorities there insist on you watching the introductory video before going to Matrimandir. It is said that soil from 124 nations and the then 23 states of India were brought and placed in a marble urn, still present near Matrimandir, during the foundation ceremony. This was a unique concept, nevertheless symbolised the idea of world peace. Matrimandir is about a kilometre from the Visitor Centre. After returning to the Visitor Centre, we had chapatis with vegetables and hummus along with a cold chocolate drink at a cafe.

Cold chocolate at a cafe in Auroville

Cold chocolate at a cafe in Auroville

Chapati with hummus at a cafe in Auroville

Chapati with hummus at a cafe in Auroville

Since we spent morning and noon at Auroville, we headed towards French colony, known as White Town, to enjoy the evening breeze at Mahatma Gandhi Beach.

Mahatma Gandhi Beach in Pondicherry

Mahatma Gandhi Beach in Pondicherry

As namesake, M G Road is found there. Pondicherry Museum, Raj Nivas, Lighthouse, French War Memorial and Mahatma Gandhi Memorial are all near M G Beach and in the White Town. We strolled on the beach and later went for dinner. This area has French architectural houses and probably some Anglo Indians still residing here. Maybe that is the reason it is called as French Colony. Since the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial is present there, the adjacent beach is called Mahatma Gandhi Beach.

Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in Pondicherry

Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in Pondicherry

Raj Nivas is the residence of Pondicherry’s Lieutenant Governor. Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India, thanks to French for finally disowning is officially. French War Memorial is a perfect dedication.

French War Memorial in Pondicherry

French War Memorial in Pondicherry

For dinner, we went to The Road MotoPub on De Bussy Street in White Town. It is a motorbike theme pub where sometimes live music is played. The pub’s manager accommodated us at the rooftop seating. Food and drinks tasted awesome. My taste buds are still tingling remembering those delicacies. Price is neither cheap not expensive; moderately priced food but the wait time is just too long. We had fish tawa fry and squid rings in white sauce.

Tawa fish fry at The Road MotoPub, Pondicherry

Tawa fish fry at The Road MotoPub, Pondicherry

Squid rings in white sauce at The Road MotoPub, Pondicherry

Squid rings in white sauce at The Road MotoPub, Pondicherry

I had Cosmopolitan with a rice-chicken combo, which was absolutely delicious, but I have forgotten the name.

Cosmopolitan at The Road MotoPub, Pondicherry

Cosmopolitan at The Road MotoPub, Pondicherry

Delicious chicken dish at The Road MotoPub in Pondicherry

Delicious chicken dish at The Road MotoPub in Pondicherry

On the morning of day two, we had a late breakfast of pongal, puri and doses at The New Ariya Bhavan, and drifting towards Paradise Beach.

Paradise Beach in Pondicherry

Paradise Beach in Pondicherry

This famed beach is about 6km from the main town of Pondicherry. That boat ride in Chunnambar backwaters is hyped ridiculously. If you have kids with you, who are pestering you saying “momma, dadda, boat-boat” only then opt for it. Going to that island by boat is nonsensical as the island is always crowded and you can hardly see the sand on its shores. Instead of the island, opt for the calm Paradise Beach on the other side, by the coconut grove. You can spend all your time sitting there or playing in the surprisingly clear water, and nobody will bother you, except for the heat.

Paradise Beach in Pondicherry

Paradise Beach in Pondicherry

Also, no what-the-fuck priced restaurants on this side of the beach, so no worries. Here we found Paradise Coastline Resort, which is actually a food serving shack.

Paradise Coastline Resort at Paradise Beach in Pondicherry

Paradise Coastline Resort at Paradise Beach in Pondicherry

I would really recommend relaxing and having lunch here instead of setting foot on that commercialised island of sorts. Good ambience and calmness helped us to relax for the first time on this vacation. The menu doesn’t have much, but whatever they serve is damn good. The owner of this place even got fresh prawns for us, cleaned it and served us Prawn 65. We had good and satisfying Piña Colada with masala fish fries and seafood penne. We had no mood to budge from there and sat there for about three hours.

Piña Colada at Paradise Coastline Resort, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

Piña Colada at Paradise Coastline Resort, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

Masala fish fry at Paradise Coastline Resort, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

Masala fish fry at Paradise Coastline Resort, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

Seafood penne at Paradise Coastline Resort, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

Seafood penne at Paradise Coastline Resort, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

Prawn 65 at Paradise Coastline Resort, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

Prawn 65 at Paradise Coastline Resort, Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

From Paradise Beach, we went to check on Arikamedu, an archeologically important place because this was Greek and Roman trading place back in BCE eras. Not much to see there as the whole thing is in ruins, more than before it was discovered.

Arikamedu in Pondicherry

Arikamedu in Pondicherry

By the time we reached back the White Town, it was evening, and we wanted to go to a restaurant by name Rendezvous. Why this one specifically? Because we had read and heard a lot of good things about it. Also, we had missed out on getting a spot there on the previous night, so we were hell-bent on going there that evening. There’s no reserving of tables; only first come-first served basis. Run by an Indian couple, Rendezvous is a roof top restaurant and is perfect for a romantic evening.

Rendezvous in Pondicherry

Rendezvous in Pondicherry

Rendezvous opens at 6:30pm and has a happy cocktail hour up to 7:30pm, i.e. buy one cocktail and get another one free. After 7:30pm, cover charges of Rs.1000 would apply per head. We went in at sharp 6:30pm and the owners informed us that since we were one of the first customers for the evening, cover charges would be waived off us even if we sat there post 7:30pm. Yippe! We had first ordered one Screw Driver and one more came along with that. Harinakshi ordered Chocolate Baileys that looked yummy, so Anisha and I ordered for three more Chocolate Baileys. They came in the eatable chocolate shot “cups”.

Chocolate Baileys at Rendezvous in Pondicherry

Chocolate Baileys at Rendezvous in Pondicherry

You can say we ordered them more for the chocolate than for the shots. We drank our cocktails with golden deep fried calamari, prawn fries and shredded fish stir-fried with grated coconut.

Golden deep fried calamari and prawn fries at Rendezvous in Pondicherry

Golden deep fried calamari and prawn fries at Rendezvous in Pondicherry

Shredded fish stir-fired with grated coconut

Shredded fish stir-fired with grated coconut

For the main course, Harinakshi and I had chicken sizzlers and Anisha had her favourite Mangalorean fish curry with rice sumptuously.

Chicken sizzler at Rendezvous in Pondicherry

Chicken sizzler at Rendezvous in Pondicherry

They not only have a good ambience but also serve drinks and food in the way they are to be served with little delay. The best part is they have live music too, and the restaurant owners encourage you to take up karaoke if you want to meddle with the mic. Since we were not inebriated, after dinner we made our way back to the Mahatma Gandhi Beach, which was almost secluded by around 10:30pm. We sat at the beach for a long time until we felt we should head back to our hotel room.

On the morning of our last day of the trip, we checked out of our hotel rooms and had breakfast at Daily Bread. A few years ago, Daily Bread used to be where PeepIn was. We didn’t know where it was relocated. Harinakshi spotted Daily Bread when we were out shopping in White Town in the evening of our first day there. I have always been obsessed the chicken cotton blue served there, but it wasn’t on the breakfast menu. We sufficed ourselves with omelettes and toasts.

Omelette at Daily Bread in Pondicherry

Omelette at Daily Bread in Pondicherry

I had minced meat grilled sandwich and French crepe with grated coconut along with hot chocolate.

Minced meat grilled sandwich and French Crepe with grated coconut at Daily Bread in Pondicherry

Minced meat grilled sandwich and French Crepe with grated coconut at Daily Bread in Pondicherry

Hot chocolate at Daily Bread in Pondicherry

Hot chocolate at Daily Bread in Pondicherry

I wanted to eat more, but we were running short of time. We returned out vehicles to the rental shop and hired an auto-rickshaw to go to New Bus Stand of Pondicherry.

It was a 100km bus ride from Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram, previously known as Mamallapuram. We were exhausted by the time we even boarded the bus, so we all dozed off in turns. I had an inkling from my experiences from past trip that our bus might not go into the town of Mahabalipuram and drop us off at the highway. The same thing happened. As soon as we got down from the bus, an auto-rickshaw stopped behind us. Its driver said he will show us all the main places of Mahabalipuram and drop us off at the Shore Temple in the end, all for Rs.450/- Since we didn’t have enough time to explore the place by foot, we took this guy’s services.

Our driver-guide took us first to the Five Rathas. Here, you have to buy a ticket costing you Rs.10/- and this would get you any entry to the Shore temple as well. Supposed to resemble chariots, these carvings out of monolithic rocks are dedicated to Pandavas but have nothing to do with them or with Mahabharatha.

The Five Rathas at Mahabalipuram

The Five Rathas at Mahabalipuram

According to our guide, Pallavas, the rulers of this place back then, fancied a background story for every art of theirs. From the Five Rathas, we moved towards the old and the new lighthouses.

An ancient lighthouse of Pallavas, carved out of a huge boulder, stands majestically and must have served its purpose well in the olden days.

Ancient lighthouse at Mahabalipuram

Ancient lighthouse at Mahabalipuram

At Mahabalipuram

At Mahabalipuram

Our guide explained that people of those times burnt logs in the uppermost part so that the ships and boats could see the directions to the harbour or port. If you are wondering about burning logs, then I must specify that back in those days they didn’t have electricity or any other fuel except for wood. This is also an abandoned temple. Next to the old lighthouse is the new lighthouse that was built during colonialism.

New lighthouse at Mahabalipuram

New lighthouse at Mahabalipuram

Huge lamp at New lighthouse in Mahabalipuram

Huge lamp at New lighthouse in Mahabalipuram

You are allowed to go to the top of both the lighthouses. At the top of the new lighthouse, you get to see a gigantic modern lamp. If you go ahead from this new lighthouse, you get to see Mahishasuramardhini cave, which is a room.

In Mahabalipuram, you get to see a huge boulder balanced on a slope. It is called Butter Ball; maybe of Krishna, if the Pallavas were to be asked.

Butter Ball in Mahabalipuram

Butter Ball in Mahabalipuram

Our guide told that once seven elephants tried to move this boulder, but it wouldn’t budge. Nearby, you can find Pancha Pandavas Cave, Arjuna’s Penance and Krishna Mandapam.

In Mahabalipuram

In Mahabalipuram

In Mahabalipuram

In Mahabalipuram

We finally arrived at the Shore Temple. It is said that out of seven, six temples got washed away during Tsunami in 2004. Only one remains, and is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This makes my second trip to a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Anisha. First one was to Hampi. Narasimhavarma I of Pallava dynasty built Five Rathas and Narasimhavarman II built shore temples. There are many more places in Mahabalipuram to see.

As per our guide’s explanation, before Pallavas went on a war, they gave a great sacrifice at this place. Maha means great and Bali means sacrifice. Thus, Mahabalipuram. But there are stories of how it was Bali who founded this place. Anyway, Harinakshi and I had chicken biryani for lunch and Anisha went for a simple vegetarian meal at a small eatery opposite to the Mahabalipuram bus stop. Our bus back to Bengaluru was from Chennai. We left from Mahabalipuram accordingly.

Our bus tickets fare from Bengaluru to Pondicherry Rs.1020/- per head and felt slightly on a higher side for a Non AC sleeper bus by SRS Travels. We had boycotted auto-rickshaws there when it came to commuting in Pondicherry for sightseeing. Rent that we paid was Rs.1050/- per two-wheeler. This amount is the basic, irrespective of whether you take it for one, two or three days. Maybe it will cost more if you hire the vehicle for more than three days. And petrol expenses came to Rs.270/- per vehicle. Breakfast was about Rs.600/- for all three of us together on all three days. At Auroville, we had light lunch, and the bill came for about total Rs.500/-. Dinner at The Road MotoPub and Rendezvous, and lunch at the Paradise Coastline Resort were billed for somewhere between Rs.3000 and Rs.4000 at each place, but all were worth the expenses and time spent together there. Bus fare per head from Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram was Rs.100/- and the auto-guidance service in Mahabalipuram was for Rs.450/-. Lunch at Mahabalipuram was about Rs.150/- per head and bus fare from Mahabalipuram to Chennai was about Rs.150/- per head in an air-conditioned bus. Bus fare from Chennai to Bengaluru was Rs.846/- per head and was on the lesser side for an AC sleeper bus by KSRTC.

About where we stayed for day days and two nights in Pondicherry, Hotel Navarathna was a bad one. For a 3 people AC suite, they charged Rs.1450/- per day. Make it twice and we paid that for a neat room, but with a broken AC. Impolite hotel staff made it worse. Since we had planned this trip rather late, this was the only place we could find in the town for that long weekend of Good Friday. Don’t go here. Plan early and book a better hotel. In Mahabalipuram, we didn’t stay. Also, there are better options for restaurants in Mahabalipuram apart from the small eateries. On one of my trip to this place, I had a good lunch at a restaurant called Le Yogi, which is quite near to the Shore temple.

When you are leaving for Pondicherry and Mahabalipuram, don’t bother taking any clothes. Clothes and accessories are damn cheap, though of good quality, and you could buy all your requirements there rather than carrying a backpack from your home sweet home. Whatever you need to buy or eat and drink, and hire vehicles, go to Mission Street in White Town. Just carry a lot of sunscreen lotion with you.

Travelling with your best friends is always a beautiful thing to do. I have been on trips with random people and have been on a solo trip too. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages. But travelling with BFFs is a dream and a process that brings you all even closer than before though you bicker a lot. If you are planning to go to these places, then happy de-tanning in advance.