Sometimes life takes certain things away from you but gives you a lot more at hand. Such is the story of people who have found themselves out in the open and never let the insecurities of life get to them. After all, the soul needs healing and the more places you visit, the more people you meet, your perspective about the world keeps growing. While some travel to find themselves through solo trips and some others go out of their way to find bonding with their loved ones. However, there are a few who look at the world in a different light; through a lens, in sounds and sometimes, a wheelchair. Taking cue from that, we bring to your the inspiring story of Mrunmaiy Abroal who completed her Pondicherry trip on a wheelchair, with her family.
Such is the story of Mrunmaiy Abroal who travelled the classic roads of Pondicherry with her parents on a wheelchair. That’s when she looked to search for meaning in her travels. A wheelchair wasn’t going to stop her from discovering the beauty of the world around. The journey started with a drive down from Bangalore to Pondicherry.
Visiting Pondicherry in the month of October can be quite taxing due to the heat that surrounds. With a perfectly planned itinerary of things to do around Pondicherry, Mrunmayi Abroal along with her parents checked into Hotel Ginger. Being a differently-abled person comes with a lot of consideration which people usually forget. Luckily, the hotel provided secure access for those in one. After reaching the Union territory, it was time to explore the city in and out.
The first day started with a drive down to the Promenade Beach, which provided a beautiful sight with waves crashing onto the greying rocky shore. Moreover, the ride along the sea beach was equally stunning. Mrunmaiy recalls it was especially during the sunrise. However, getting in and out of the car to the beach was a hefty task. The vehicle was not accessible, and the promenade had steps to enter the beach.
Nevertheless, the beauty of the Beach Road made up for the loss when the road closed for vehicles. With a pit stop at the Mahatma Gandhi statue and French War Memorial, the family headed to Le Cafe. Mrunmaiy reminisced how she would have loved to have lunch with a sea view, but the restaurant had steps to climb. Skipping the lunch, they wandered on instead.
Next on the list was the visit to the famous white and yellow buildings which made the renowned architecture of the French Quarter. While some of these buildings are homes and government offices, various others have been turned into heritage hotels and cafes.
As beautiful as the walk was, old architecture and wheelchair accessibility do not go hand in hand. Going inside most of the cafes or hotels proved to be challenging. The family was lucky enough to a few cafes that served delicious food while being wheelchair friendly too. One such cafe was Villa Shanti with its delirious European cuisine.
Driving through the French Quarters, the family came to a halt in front of the Pondicherry Museum. Established in 1983, the museum houses sculptures from the Chola, Pallava and Vijayanagara temples. Moreover, they carry various artefacts from the Nayaka periods too.
The sightseeing through the museum was not a smooth ride but manageable with the help of a kind guard. Although she could not go through the entire museum spread across different floors and narrow steps, she did manage to get amazed by the ancient sculpture that remained in the museum campus.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Pondicherry trip is not complete without a visit to Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Closely surrounded by market and the old town, the ashram founded in 1926 attracts seekers of spirituality from around the world. Furthermore, for someone like Mrunmaiy, the ashram even had a ramp for smooth movement of a wheelchair. How thoughtful! Being in a wheelchair also exempted her from removing her shoes.
The sightseeing took the family around a courtyard with the samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and Mother. Furthermore, people were sitting meditating calmly while being seated around the place. Up ahead, the way took them through a photo gallery and library. There may not have been much to see in the ashram, but the positivity and the beautiful silence was uplifting.
The second day, the family headed to the sustainable township of Auroville after a hearty breakfast at the hotel. The usual entrance leading to the visitor’s centre was not accessible by wheelchair because of the pathway being blocked by rocks. It was rather a disappointment when the representatives around informed them that there were very few places around that could be visited on a wheelchair. However, the sight was not to be missed!
The family entered with their car through a separate gate to the viewing of the gold disc chambered, Matrimandir. Although it is the most distant point of Auroville, the long pathway leading to it was calming. Moreover, they also came across a huge banyan tree with its twisting roots that made their way into the soil. The shade that it offered was a heavenly respite after the long walk.
Chinna Veerampattinam Beach
In the evening, they drove through the city of Pondicherry and a narrow laned village before reaching Veerampattinam Beach. However, to their disappointment yet again, the beach was utterly inaccessible by wheelchair. With the crowd of people and cars that surrounded, the family decided to take in the mesmerising breeze. Mrunmaiy loved sitting in the car, enjoying the evening waves that crashed soulfully onto the shores.
What excited her was especially the access road leading to the beach. The extensive coconut tree plantations along the way with a backdrop of the cast ocean could soothe anyone.
With that, the small family weekend trip of Mrunmayi Abroal came to an end.
Although the city was a disappointment when it came to wheelchair accessibility, the relaxation by the beach, the surreal architecture and the dine outs were a treat. Moreover, for her next trip to Pondicherry, Mrunmaiy hopes to go scuba diving that has been her long term bucket list goal. Temple Adventures in the city is one of the highest-rated places to try out the water adventure, and they are known to have dived with those with paraplegia and quadriplegia.
That said, the story of Mrunmaiy Abroal reminds one that nothing comes between you and the way one wants to live their dream. One has to believe in the beauty that is around. We look up to Mrunmaiy for fulfilling her Pondicherry Trip Wishlist.
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Check out her blog to know more about Mrunmaiy Abroal.