Not many would have heard about Chunnambar Island in Pondy. Based on suggestion received from some good friends, we decided to take a trip to this place. We left Chennai around 4:00 pm in a tempo traveler. I don't know why people always think about booze when travelling to Pondy (may be the cost). Even we were thinking about the same and ended up buying one case on the way itself. The booze party began right inside the vehicle.
We reached Pondicherry sometime around 8:00 pm ( we took the Tambaram route as that was easy to obtain permit). One of our colleague had a hotel in Pondy and was grateful enough to arrange our stay there for minimal cost. After getting ourselves freshened up, we went to the Pondy beach in the night. The Pondy beach is one place where you have to avoid going if you are a beach freak. Whats the fun in seeing the beach if you cant get down and touch the waters ?? However, we saw quiet a good crowd (including families – i heard family can be spotted only on weekends at Pondy beach). We walked through the beach road. Luckily we had a handicraft exhibition going on there which killed some time. At around 10, we went back to the Hotel and had a lavish dinner which cost us around 4k with liquor (for 18 people). How we wish we had our offices in Pondy.
Next day morning, we took a morning walk and had some tender coconuts (Rs 5 each, stunned again). Just above the seller we saw a huge cut-out of the Chief Minister with a caption “Thanks for another Tax Free budget” – sometimes, I wonder how this place runs without tax ? We left to Ashram straight from there. We spend a few minutes there along with other yogis (or what should I call them, maybe devotees, all were in different world). We browsed the stores inside the Ashram and I couldn’t avoid buying some books. We left the Ashram to Chunnambar around 9am.
We reached the bank of the Chunnambar Backwaters within a 15 min drive from Pondy on the way to Cuddalore. We didn't expect many there since we heard its more of a secluded place. However, to our surprise we saw atleast 5 – 6 groups of people from other companies, then some group of friends, some families too who had come there. Most of them were prepared for the trip ( they had food/water bottles/bats/balls – we too had a bat and some tennis balls). We frankly had no clue on what was in store. We parked our vehicle and walked in. You have to pay Rs 10 for entering the spot. The TTDC have built some tree-houses there and that was something new for us. We heard that people were allowed to stay there in the nights, if booked earlier. However, the staff said that right now they were not allowing anyone to stay (after a recent murder - yes, you heard it right). The tree houses were locked and we couldn't enter into the same, though we took some snaps standing on the steps.
The skies were clear blue and this gave a picturesque landscape around the bank of the Chunnambar backwater. The sight of the over-bridge above the back-water reminded me of the Howrah bridge (Why in Taminadu, we don't built Howrah kind of bridges over the waterways?). If you like fishing, you can spend your entire day on the banks itself fishing, there were so many variety of fishes. We then took a motor boat to reach the island. The way to the island would definitely remind you of Kerela backwaters.The cool breezy cruise was a welcome relief for all of us and our expectations went higher like the inflation.
Yes, Chunnambar was infact an island surrounded by backwater on three sides and sea on the fourth side. But don't dream about the islands of Andaman/ Lakshwadweep. This place full of sand and got some trees planted by the TTDC ( I suppose) to make it look like a tourist spot. The beach (its called Paradise beach (seriously?) is an actual beach and you can walk into it (unlike the Pondy beach). There are some huts created for resting, which was very useful for us later in the day. There was one shop selling packaged water and some snacks. We took sometime to see around (though there was nothing much to see). We played cricket for sometime because you got nothing else to do there. We also spent few hours playing in the beach. It was too hot and we had to go back to the huts to take shelter. We bought close to 15 packaged water bottles and all were empty within few minutes. We had some snacks later and left around 2:00 pm back to Pondy.
We realized, the best time to visit this place was in the evenings. This was proved when we saw huge number of people coming to the spot (when we were leaving). We also heard that if you got good contacts within TTDC, then you can stay in the island in the night also – now, that could be fun. Otherwise, the best time to visit would be evenings only. If you are a travel freak and if you have not visited any real islands, then you have to visit this place just for the unique experience. Otherwise, there’s nothing much to experience other than the backwater cruise and the tree houses, which should be a new experience to Chennai crowd.(I know you would mention Muttukad, but this cruise was much different from Muttukad boating). Anyways, we enjoyed the trip and it was a welcome break for all of us.