Chennai & Pondicherry
We only spent one day and night in Chennai as there’s not much to do there and is mainly used as a main hub for transport, but we had a friend to visit and a footy game to watch! We did find a brilliant local joint to eat at and enjoyed some delicious South Indian cuisine.
We stayed at the Red Lollipop hostel. It was 600 rupiah for a night stay... a bit more expensive than we were used to, but Chennai is more expensive than most cities in India. If you walk out of the hostel and take a right, about a hundred meters down the road you’ll find a queue in front of a small hole in the wall restaurant from 10am onwards.
This restaurant was called Trouser Kadai. The reason for the name is because the chef only wears trousers, but he’s the only one! His story was quite incredible. He moved his family to Chennai in order to get quality medical care for his daughter. He needed to find a way to make money so he opened this shop and had locals teach him how to make the local cuisine. It’s not a stretch of the truth to say he has mastered the art of South Indian dishes. He serves breakfast including egg dosas, regular dosas, delicious coconut chutney, vadas (fried savory doughnuts) and much much more. Everything made fresh on that day and we actually witnessed the man using the machete to chop the coconuts for the chutney.
One of my favorite things about the south is they eat off big banana leaves everywhere you go!
The price is definitely right as well. We stuffed our faces and walked out only 40 rupiah poorer. For lunch be sure to get there at noon or you’ll be in a line for at least thirty minutes to an hour. He serves fish curries, meat curries, veg curries, fried fish, parottas and everything else you could want. Only about ten people can sit and eat at a time given the small space but it was truly one of the best meals we’ve had so far. Highly recommend visiting Trouser Kadai.
At night we visited Studio - The Slate, Ayer Rooftop bar to watch the footy match. It was kind of expensive for the quality, but it was a nice place to hang out with friends.
Where to eat:
- Trouser Kadai- Unbelievably delicious and cheap local food.
- Mana Andrha- Serves local food from the state of Andrha Pradesh. Try the curd rice for a change of pace and the biriyani was quite delicious. You can never go wrong with a parotta or uttapom. The coconut curry blew my mind!
- Amadora- If you’re feeling like a good dessert that’s not too sweet like many of the Indian sweets visit Amadora for fresh Italian gelato and other desserts.
- Aasife Biriyani - Near the Ashok Pilar bus stop. Grab a bite while your waiting for your bus! The parotta was amazing!
If you are going to Pondicherry and plan to head inland to Coorg after be aware you do have to come back through Chennai so rent a Zoom car or plan accordingly because the four hour long bus ride would be better if it didn’t have to be repeated. If you do rent a car stop at Mahabalipuram beach on your way down as it’s supposed to be the best beach nearest to Chennai.
We headed to Pondicherry in hopes for some nice beaches, but ended up extremely disappointed. The rubbish all over the beach was heartbreaking. We also saw a few dead sea turtles which was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I witnessed men defecating in the sea as well. If I had to do it all over again I’d give the whole place a miss as there are much more beautiful spots in India to see, but we did have fun exploring the surrounding areas.
If you do go to Pondicherry rent a motorbike and drive through Auroville. It’s a community built on the idea that everything is communal. It was interesting to check out the Visitor’s Center and walk to Matrimandir, the golden ball temple mainly used for spiritual practice and integral yoga. Along the nice walking path they had signs describing all of the different flowers and inspirational quotes to go along with each of them. Be sure to explore the cafes of Auroville, including Dreamer’s Cafe for delicious espresso, as this is where you’ll find the freshest and healthiest food near Pondicherry.
There are many dirt roads you can take to explore the land and you will even come across some fabulous family run restaurants in the middle of no where. You will see people biking, practicing yoga, walking, meditating, dancing and just about anything else in Auroville. It’s quite a hippie town and a wonderful place to chill. When we were driving down one of the roads we decided to park our bikes and hop off to walk and explore, but we were soon charged by a bull and pulled into a local’s land for safety. He was a very kind soul, living in the middle of the jungle. We hung out in his treehouse while discussing the crazy animals of India. P.S. Steer clear of all ants in India... They all bite, but the big ones hurts the most and the pain lasts for 24 hours.
The best beach we found in Pondicherry was White Beach, although it wasn’t anything compared to my hometown beach in San Clemente, we took it in stride. We also explored Serenity Beach and ventured to the Promenade. The Promenade has some craft markets and a park near the main square to walk through. We happened to visit Pondicherry during one of their festivals of the Gods and as we drove by all the women were outside sprinkling rice flour in designs on the road, also known as rangoli. I loved seeing all the different designs of rangoli along the way.
Where to go:
- White Beach and Rock Beach
- Promenade & the nearby markets
- Mahabalipuram beach- Best beach nearest to Chennai
- Auroville via motorbikes
Where to stay:
- Buddy homestay or Khatik homestay - 500 rupiah ($7.50 per night)
- Ecō Dunes Resort - if you’re feeling fancy
Where to eat:
- Sri Kamatchi Hotel Biriyani Veedu- Delicious Biriyani
- Marine Drive restaurant
- What’s Up Cafe- Great espresso near Serenity Beach
- Fish stand near Serenity Beach
- Dreamer’s Cafe (Auroville)- Great Espresso, light lunches and vegan deserts
- Dinesh Restaurant (Auroville)- Order a lappa if you want to try something new, it’s basically an Indian Pizza.
I hope you enjoy your time in Pondicherry and Chennai!