“An Eden that is hard to fathom and does not unveil itself at once, it opens it’s heart of secrets only to the deserving “.
This unparalleled experience in the South of India was described so rightly by Pascal Bruckner.

A villa so luxurious, so culturally rich.
A villa so luxurious, so culturally rich.

Courtesy of a luxury travel company called LuxUnlock, I got to explore the untouched and fresh parts of Mamallapuram and Pondicherry. LuxUnLock is a specialist in designing the most enjoyable holiday villa experiences in India. Key to this is their ability to offer you the most beautiful private homes combined with their highly recognised curated destination experiences.

Chettinad Villa in Mamallapuram
Chettinad Villa in Mamallapuram

My five day trip began with a flight into Chennai, where I stopped over at Mamallapuram for a day at a stunning four bedroom, Chettinad Villa. The drive from Chennai to Mamallapuram is a short 1.5 hour road trip from the airport.
Through LuxUnlock, we got to visit a beautifully private beach. A short drive from the residence, and a walk through a thicket of leaves, only to discover a moonlit horizon with the waves crashing on my feet.
Exploring Mamallapuram began with the paddy fields near the Palmyrah, I was fed mouth-watering fritters with a decadent moong ka halwa – a very big highlight of the trip.

I was super impressed by the staff at the villa who were all smiles all the time and fed us some amazing home cooked meals.

A part of the villa cordons off to a large and comfy space to relax with a drink or enjoy a movie night. The pool was a perfect addition to help set the evening mood. Even though sunsets on the beach are believed to be a class apart, the sunset at the Palmyrah is not something to miss out on. As the sun sets, the noise fades out with the light, creating a gold plating on the edge of each leaf in the paddy fields.

Views from the Villa.
Views from the Villa.

I ended my visit to Mamallapuram by visiting this Idler’s Café, which served lip-smacking platters, everything directly from farm to table. The simplest of ingredients put together in the most unusual ways to give every customer a whole, healthy and soulful meal. Mamallapuram crosses everything on the checklist; it is relatively untouched, has history, culture, architecture along with the beach and surfing opportunities.

Farm to table food at Idler's Café
Farm to table food at Idler’s Café

Our next destination, was two hours from Villa Palymrah, the Maison 26 in Pondicherry.
The old French Colonial villa, designed to perfection with a remarkable eye for detail entails four bedrooms, each representing the essence of Mumbai, Bengal, Indo-chine and Madras.

LuxUnlock’s Villa Palymrah, the Maison 26 in Pondicherry

Located in the French quarter of Puducherry, the french influence on this place is visible through its food, language and cobbled streets. My top picks were: Coromandel Café, Café des Arts, GMT for some delicious gelato, Greasy Tin for drinks, and La Villa for desserts. The highlight of Pondicherry was the food served by Chez Pushpa, which is an experience that offers an authentic, home cooked, South Indian meal. I got to interact with the chef and her husband as well. They served everything on a banana leaf, and each dish was unique in a different way. My pick? The Mutton Sambhar and Tamarind sauce served with rice. A humble, hearty meal.

Chef Pushpa’s delicacies

Walking around in the day cruising from one magnificent lamp post to the next is all a part of Pondi’s charm. Most unusual sport still played in the squares around town is the game of Boules. One of the many French traditions that were practiced by war veterans recruited to the French Army during the World Wars, it later found patronage among Franco-Tamils. Now, pentanque (another name for boules) is not just a pastime but a serious sport. The fact that 28 clubs in Puducherry sponsor this game and hold regular tournaments shows its popularity.

Cafés of Pondicherry, lush greens & fresh feeds.

When in Pondicherry, Auroville is a must! Auroville is an experimental town, and its purpose is to help people realise human unity. I took a cycle tour in the town, where I visited the schools, who have very different school of thought.

Cycling around Auroville, accompanied by LuxUnlock.

We visited a sound therapy museum & the local pottery studios. We met two potters named Rakhi and Puneet, who gave us their own insights on Auroville and its life. The most peculiar thing about the place is that everyone earns the same amount of money- because money shouldn’t be a factor in deciding what people want to pursue! Every individual living there has submitted to the values and principles of Auroville completely, making it the epitome of slow living.

Details of Maison 26

Visiting Pondicherry and Mamallapuram was an enriching and fulfilling trip, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the local escapades offered by LuxUnlock, which helped me get around like a resident.

Pottery Studios of Pondicherry.

You can book your experience with LuxUnlock via their website https://www.luxunlock.com or browse their properties & experiences on their IG @luxunlockprivatevillas 

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