The renowned, prize winning book Life of Pi by Yann Martel is set to be the next blockbuster at the cinema this coming December (2012).This bestselling novel was mainly based in the middle of the Pacific Ocean but it also included some scenes in south India’s Pondichery, Munnar and Madurai. How accurate were Martel’s descriptions? Enchanting Travels investigates!
Our guests are able to visit the famous Aurobindo Ashram, which is mentioned several times in the book.. You can also explore the universal, spiritual city of Auroville, just 14 km from Pondicherry city centre that provides gorgeous grounds and the golden Matrimandir, which sparkles in the sunlight.
Auroville has become a shopping hub with its numerous boutiques of unique craftwork. It also provides a pleasant outdoor café.[/calout]
There is much discussion about the swimming pool in Paris where Pi gets his name from and that he found a love for swimming. In fact, there are very few hotels in Pondicherry that offer a swimming pool and swimming is off-bounds along the promenade.
Enchanting Travels Top Tip: Stay at the heritage hotel Maison Perumal for a traditional experience of Pondicherry.
Pondicherry does have a Botanical Gardens with an aquarium; however the inclusion in the book that it has a zoo is merely fiction. The same goes for the gardens having a toy train – the closest toy train in south India exists in Ooty.
Unfortunately the Botanical Gardens were devastated by a cyclone in December 2011 and have not yet been restored to their full glory. Walking around them is a ghostly experience, with uprooted trees, empty fountains and broken statues and is not worth the visit. We instead recommend that you enjoy the city’s many temples: Vedapureswarar, Varadaraja Perumal and Manakula Vinayakar and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
With its French influence, Pondicherry boasts some gorgeous bakeries, including Baker Street where you can delight in delectable freshly baked bread, mille-feuille, éclairs, savoury tarts and quiches.
Enchanting Travels Top Tip: Amble the streets of Pondicherry by foot and discover the chocolatier Choco-La on Mission Street. Pop one of their Melting Pots into your mouth for a moment of chocolate heaven!
When it comes to Munnar, we’d agree with Pi – that the “coolness is as pleasing as having a mint in your mouth”, particularly after having traveled from humid Pondicherry.
The book describes the three hills of Munnar, each with a place of worship that the character Pi visits: a Hindu temple, a mosque and a church. In fact, as a misty hill station surrounded by sweeping spice and tea plantations, Munnar boasts more than three hills.
Nestled in the UNESCO Heritage Site of the Western Ghats, the lush green panorama is magnificent.
The name Munnar is thought to mean three rivers, which is more accurate with the three rivers present. In Munnar there are opportunities to “do the tourist thing” as Pi outlines in the book: you too can visit the TATA tea factory, feed the famous Nilgiris thar – a species of wild goat, and even tour a cattle breeding center!
As part of a family pilgrimage Pi was brought as a small baby to Madurai to the famous Sree Meenakshi temple. It’s a site not to miss.
One of the oldest living temples within India, the temple looms out proudly from the surrounding bustling markets of this holy city.
The Life of Pi movie is being released in December 2012. Watch the official trailer of Life of Pi here.
Follow in the footsteps of Pi with a private, tailor-made itinerary experiencing the highlights of south India.