Continuing with my account of our short holiday at Club Mahindra’s (CM) resort at Pondicherry, thanks to my sister-in-law
The final hours and summary observations at the resort:
So it was the day for us to pack up.
And packing up wasn’t difficult at all because all that we had was laid out before us in plain sight. Because there wasn’t any storage space in the room to put things away. A good strategy because there was no danger of forgetting things behind!
We made our last trip to the restaurant, the royal court of Shri Srinivasan (our chef, if you have missed the earlier posts, and a good reason to visit the resort). And rounded it up with a tumbler and more of the divine concoction from the hands of our Merlin. Before the ritual was over, I asked him if he would take me as his understudy, seriously. He dismissed me as being frivolous. One day I might…
This restaurant is an amazing place to see the magic that could be wrought through proper training. For starters, the guys here dress so well. Never imagined one could look so graceful in a dhoti-shirt ensemble as a service attire, of course spotlessly clean, as I saw the one day. They move noiselessly and without fuss negotiating the tables and the guests. Looks like there’s no ‘not my table’ syndrome – any table the guy sees as needing service is his table. These youngsters may not appear overtly friendly but they’re not unfriendly, by any stretch. Try much as I did, could not tease out of Shri Mohanraj, the young resort manager, if they did employ some special techniques to get these guys into shape and motivate them on an ongoing basis.
On inquiry some interesting tidbits shared by Mohanraj: a) CM does involve villagers around the place creating some direct employment opportunities and b) On Fridays they allow guests to prepare and present their own recipes working out of CM’s kitchen!
It felt nice to be in an ambiance that we shared with the trees, the shrubs, the plants, the grass, the birds…none threatened, all living peacefully…the bliss of ‘vanaprasthashrama’ (retiring to the forests withdrawing from active life) in a capsule? Don’t miss seeing some unusual specimens – those trees at the periphery of the resort that grow wild and almost horizontally, banyan vines snaking away over large distances, plants running amuck with more flowers than leaves and some normally-not-sighted-birds at their busiest in the mornings.
Though I still felt the resort could certainly do with more landscaping and lot more plants and some charming water structures like streams, ponds, miniature water-falls…I sincerely trust they don’t pack up the unused spaces with more guest dwelling units. Do resorts have the concept of FSI (Floor-Space-Index)?
What we didn’t jump into: Lots of play-things for kids including rifle range, archery, pedal-cars, cycles, some roller-coaster styled new scream-raising contraptions…daily house activities including a visit to a village nearby (we shouldn’t have missed that one) that could do with more active guest participation (needs some innovative approach).
Keeping with the CM tradition, the travel-desk wasn’t an alluring spot to halt. CM, by design, does not plan to have its resorts intersect with tourism, it appears. They’re not proved wrong as no one is complaining.
The ‘Library’ may be ignored.
The house-keeping is quite responsive – you’ll want to trouble them for extra adaptors for charging batteries.
The only real inconvenience, if I’m asked to put my finger on, was the mattress-bed on the floor for the third occupant – tough to get up or lie down if your joints are not well oiled/cushioned. It didn’t occur to me to ask for a raised cot – am sure they would have obliged.
On the whole an enjoyable experience as one would expect at a CM resort. Our thanks to one and all who made it happen for us.
A few halts on the way back to Chennai:
Arikamedu is a coastal fishing village 4 kms from Pondicherry.
Did you know Arikamedu-Virampatnam (a neighboring village) together find mention as Poduke, a major port in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea in the first century CE and as Poduke emporion in Ptolemy’s Geographia of mid first century CE? Poduke is a Roman name and is also said to be a corrupted version of the Tamil name Potikai, meaning a “meeting place”, also known for the local Poduvar clan. (Podhigai TV?)
Based on recent excavations, it is inferred that the site has been in continuous occupation since at least 2nd or 3rd century BCE to much more recent times!
An obscure fishing village boasts so much of history. Presently comprising a few brick structures in ruinous condition, looked after by ASI, the access was considered unsafe by the locals and the travel desk, dissuading us from venturing out. A great disappointment. It would have been interesting even to look at the artifacts retrieved at the site, if not the site itself. Unfortunately it was not to be.
So it was no Arikamedu.
Paradise Beach near Pondicherry, on the way back to Chennai:
A short boat-ride, best part of the outing, took us to the island beach in under half-an-hour. The guy told us these waters were not very deep, up to 10 feet at places and shallower where red flags bobbed. The beach: pristine, litter-free stretch of sand. There wasn’t much to see or to do in the noon hours. So we did the next best thing to do under the circumstances – returned to the mainland in quick-time.
A board planted on the shore in faded paint talked about more exciting options of making it out to the sea by different modes and farther too.
Dominating the pier where we (un)boarded, moored was a large luxury boat, avowedly available for parties. Covered with curtains of vetti-ver grass all over, it was a veritable tinder-box ready to go off on merest spark, I thought. How did the Fire-Safety clear it? (Now, who are they?)
Panchamukha Anjaneya Temple:
It’s a village ‘Panchavatee’ about 10 kms away from Pondicherry. The imposing idol of Anjaneya is a whopping 36 ft in height making it one of the largest of its kind – in comparison, it’s 32 ft high at Nanganallur and 18 ft and cut out of a single rock and as old as god himself at Namakkal.
Back to Chennai:
It was late afternoon when we were finally back home…and there was work to do. Following morning we had a train to catch on our next leg – a ten-day trip to Srirangam/Tirupparaithurai and places around.
Looking back, I think we covered quite some ground in those four days with the resort and the road claiming fair share of our time. And, are happy for it.
Some other time for places like Cuddalore, Thiruvakkarai, etc.