Our night was peaceful and breakfast on the terrace was wonderful. We had a choice of Indian or continental. Most chose Indian which was presented with a large dosa in a rolled cigar shape.
The Intach Heritage centre was our target today. They offer walks through the French Quarter pointing out the architectural history. But first the Grand Bazaar. Each city has it markets and Pondy has a great one. Walking from the smelly fish through the fragrant herbs and spices to the floral flowers was a treat for the senses.
A quick shoe stop. The girls spied a shop with comfortable looking sandals and with a days walking in mind made a quick purchase.
Arriving at the Intach Centre we sat waiting for our guide and became part of the prayer ceremony. There was a peaceful feeling about the place which starts at the door when you leave your shoes.
This is a custom observed in many shops and always in the temples. It can be a hazard though. In one shop I kicked my toe on the door and have a very red swollen toe.
Our guide Ashok Panda arrived. He was a serene gentleman in his 50s. He was very erect , fine features and was well spoken- if somewhat quiet.
He spoke to us as we had gathered around a table in the courtyard- a feature of the Tamil house.
He planned our day and we set off.
As it happened we walked down the street we had used last night to get to the beach.
We paused at another hotel the Dune Mansion Calve Boutique Hotel and Ashok told us the heritage centre he worked for had done the restoration, as they had done for our hotel the Anantha. He said the Government us encouraging restoration of the Tamil houses and French style villas. The problem is the owners then maintaining the restoration.
We stopped for coffee in a hotel by the beach and Ashok got carried away telling us another Government- it’s structure and it’s corruption.
Continuing on we paused in the garden and observed the way locals and visitors used the green space. School groups were there enjoying the space – something they don’t often experience in their very crowded country.
French villas are a feature of this lovely residential area though many have been turned into smart boutique hotels. Tourism is important in this area. Our next stop was Villa Rosa and the Coramandel Cafe. Quite beautiful. We decided it would be a great spot for a drink this afternoon.
By now it was lunch time and Ashok took us to a local vegetarian cafe. He suggested the platter. A large tray with 10 different pots of sauces, chutney and vegetable dishes to dip your rice or naan into. I also ordered a Marsala dosa. Washed down with a lassi or pomegranate juice it was quite filling and delicious.
After lunch we separated. Some returned to the hotel Di went off exploring and Marlene, Shelley and I walked and walking taking in the sights , shops and the Cathedral. An oasis in this busy duty free city.
At 5 we met at the Coramandel cafe for drinks but when Marilyn and Linda didn’t arrive we worried until we heard they had attended a puja in the Sri Vedapureeswarara Temple. Quite an honour.
Drinks for us turned into dinner at the Villa Shanti and we missed the dancing at the Lycee Français. Whoops!
Home to bed by tuk tuk with a limoncello nightcap. Tomorrow is spent on the move Chidaburam for the 12th C Temple then Swamimalai.