Where: Bengaluru, Pondicherry, Mamallapuram
When: October to November 2017
What: busy Bengaluru, un petit peu de La France in Pondy, relaxing in laid back Mamallapuram
Since we were passing through Bengaluru, we decided to stop for a few days. We gave the boys a break from sightseeing and let them just do kids stuff. We’d read a brilliant post by a family who live there Travelynnfamily – Bangalore with Kids recommending all the best places to go with kids, so it was really easy for us; playgrounds, soft plays, science museum, and the boys loved it!
We stayed in Bengaluru a few days longer than planned, because we were waiting for the overnight train to Pondicherry, which only runs once a week. When Friday arrived we were quite glad to be getting away from the hustle and bustle and really excited to be moving to Pondicherry, which we’d read great things about.
We arrived in Pondicherry and had to put on our raincoats for the first time since leaving Europe (I was secretly quite glad we were making use of them). Our guest house was great, which was good because for the next few days it rained, A LOT. I went out to get some lunch for everyone, it was pretty wet when I left, and by the time I walked back I was almost knee deep in water. For the rest of our stay in Pondicherry there were heavy downpours, we had a few very wet rides on the moped, with Dylan getting the wettest as he was at the front, but it didn’t stop him from whooping away while we rode around. Jess picked up a hitchhiker when he was out on the moped on his own, he gave a schoolboy a lift home from school, the boy thought it was really funny to keep reaching over Jess’s shoulder to turn the accelerator and make them go faster!
We met with a friend and old teacher of Jess’s brother, who lives in Pondicherry, they live in a stunning French colonial three storey house in the nicest part of town, he invited us to spend the day with him and his three sons, they took us for a delicious lunch in Auroville, then to see the new house and studio that they have almost finished building, which is incredible. We all travelled in their van, Dylan sat in the boot with his new friend Basile, and was in hysterics being thrown around and falling all over the place. In the evening we played football with them and the local kids in the stadium. More and more kids wanted to join the game, so it went from 5 a side to about 15 a side. Later in the week we went back to their house for dinner, and were prepared an amazing seafood curry by their cook.
We took a trip out to Auroville on the bike down a road which was much busier than we’d realised, with trucks and buses overtaking us. We wanted to see the Matrimandir, and hoped to get a glimpse of the biggest crystal in the world contained inside, but you have to book a few days in advance, so we did, unfortunately when the day came it was too wet, and the visit was cancelled.
The food in Pondicherry was amazing, we had delicious meals in French and Indian restaurants, croissants and hot chocolate in French bakeries, we stopped at an Indian bakery on the way home one day, really filled our faces, trying everything they had, sweet and savoury, it can be a bit of a spice lottery, you never know what you’re going to get! Amazingly the bill only came to 100 Rupees.
After a few more days hanging out and enjoying the food and croissants in Pondicherry, we hopped on a local bus and made our way up the coast to Mamallapuram, a laid back surfer town, famous for it’s temples and stone carving.
We found an amazing guest house, run by such lovely people. There are lots of lovely shops in the town, including a lot of shops with huge beautiful stone carved statues outside. The beach at Mamallapuram isn’t suitable for swimming unless you’re a really strong swimmer, so we didn’t take the boys in. But there were plenty of other things to do, like a visit to Crocodile Bank, where the boys were very impressed to watch the keepers feeding their huge 17ft long saltwater crocodile his dinner.
We also visited some of Mamallapuram’s famous temples and carvings. We saw a stunning view as we climbed to the top of the Mamallapuram lighthouse. We tried and failed to push Krishna’s butterball down the hill, it is a gigantic granite boulder that looks like it’s ready to roll, but has apparently been in the same spot for 1,200 years, and has survived typhoons and tsunamis.
We’d tried a few restaurants in Mamallapuram, but we hadn’t come across anything amazing, one morning we were talking with the owner of the Chai shop, and he told us he used to have a restaurant on the beach before the Tsunami, but he hadn’t reopened. He offered to make a fish dinner for us at his shop, so he bought a white snapper at the market for us to eat that evening, we sat in the Chai shop while he and his wife made the most delicious fish we have eaten in a long time, possibly ever! And for a fraction of the price it would be in a restaurant.
After 4 days in Mamallapuram it was almost time to leave India, we got on a local bus, and headed to Chennai, to spend one night there, before our morning flight.
We had mixed feelings about leaving India, we’d been there for 8 weeks, but it seemed like longer, it seems like such a long time ago that we left Europe. We thought that it was going to be really hard taking the boys to India, having been to India before, we know what it is like, India is chaos! But we were wrong, it really wasn’t hard work, in fact, in a way it was almost easier being here with kids than without. People in India really love kids (sometimes it can get a bit much with the constant selfie requests, cheek tugging and pulling around), but everyone has been so welcoming and accommodating. It was a real pleasure to come to India with the boys, and we’re all really going to miss it.
- Catching local buses when you can, they are so cheap, and much more fun than a taxi
- Pondicherry: a visit to Auroville, stopping at one of the lovely cafés on the road leading to it
- Baker Street café, for lovely croissants, and a taste of France in Pondicherry
- Funky Monkey’s soft play, Bangalore; if you’re travelling for a long time, give the kids a treat, and yourselves a break! (It’s surprisingly expensive though, comparable to London prices).