The countryside beyond Pondicherry has so many stories that we created this experience to show people something of the way of life…
The countryside beyond Pondicherry has so many stories that we created this experience to show people something of the way of life, the history and the natural beauty. We chose Kizhur because it’s not only authentic, it’s actually an important place in the story of how Pondicherry got its freedom. So we start at the Kizhur Monument, which commemorates the signing of an agreement in 1954 to make the territory a part of India instead of a colony of France.
Not far from Kizhur, there’s a huge 60-year-old banyan tree that’s been looked after by the same woman for more than 50 years. Its main claim to fame is that it was one of the locations for The Life of Pi film, so we stop for a moment – because it’s impressive – before heading into the village to discover how people go about their daily routines.
We go into the house of someone who still makes pottery in the traditional way, and the guests can try creating something for themselves. We walk through the village and see farmers working in the fields growing tapioca or guavas, for instance, and have the chance to talk to them. And we visit a coconut grove to watch how the locals pick the fruit. People can ride in a bullock cart, watch the cows being milked: small, small things like that.
Perhaps the most unusual sight for visitors is the nearby temple, which we call ‘a temple of dolls’. It’s surrounded by brightly coloured statues that people have been putting there for around 100 years when their prayers to Ayyanar, the village deity, come true. There are around 10,000 of them and some are as much as 10 feet tall. It’s a unique feeling walking among them – enough to give you goosebumps!