Grade 9 Field Trip
Just about 200 kilometers from Chennai lies Pondicherry, a quaint former French colonial settlement. Besides being a popular tourist destination, Pondicherry also offers an opportunity to engage in experiential learning. Students of Grade 9 along with 4 teachers embarked upon a brief hiatus to Pondicherry, looking forward to exploring the wonders of this colonial town of the past.
The day started early and with excitement in the air. The three hour bus journey, filled with ceaseless, excited banter passed by in no time. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a peaceful and spiritual place was the first destination. The students meditated for a few minutes and savored the calmness and serenity around them and then proceeded to the next destination-the Museum.
The Pondicherry Art and History museum evoked a lot of interest. The museum is well-stocked and has a great collection of artifacts. Divided into various galleries, each houses collectibles that induced awe and wonder. Horse-drawn carriage –Pousse Pousse (push-push) vandi , Guntenberg hand operated printing machine, the treasure box, geological finds –rocks, stones and gems, Pondicherry Canon balls-all belonged to the 19th century. Archaeological finds from Arikamedu - burial urns of the 1st century, bricks stones, pots, handles, etc.- spoke volumes about the rich and vibrant past of this town.
A short walk to the Rock Beach road offered the most breathtaking sight in Pondicherry. A 1.2 km stretch along the Bay of Bengal, students and teachers had an hour to unwind and give in completely to the pristine surroundings -the clear waters, the touch of the mild sea breeze against the excited faces and the students were ravenous – ready for the sumptuous lunch that awaited them.
Walks along the beach and the interiors of the town were also an introduction to the French hues in Pondicherry. One couldn’t miss the boulevards, vintage French- style cottages, the niche restaurants- reminiscent of the French culture and cuisine.
Post lunch, the group proceeded to Auroville. After a ten minute introductory video, the group took a 1km walk, under the serene canopy of nature, and reached the Matrimandir viewing point. The raised gardens, the peaceful surroundings and the glimmering magnificent dome at the centre, made for an ethereal experience. The 100+ years old banyan tree with its aerial roots was an exciting sight to watch.
The ride back home was quieter, with the energies spent but spirits still aglow. In a nutshell, the experience was memorable and worth every minute.