After almost seven years, I got a chance to visit Pondicherry once more thanks to Hidesign. Their first store was opened in Pondicherry in 1990, and they also have one of their manufacturing units situated there which we had a chance to visit and get an in-depth experience of their entire process of production.
We also had a chance to stay at two of the properties in the Hidesign family Le Dupleix and The Promenade both situated in the French Quarter of Pondicherry.
A delayed flight made our entire itinerary go for a toss. But arriving at the hotel made it all worth it because Le Dupleix is such a cozy and stunning property. The heritage hotel was once the residence of a mayor back in the 1700’s and it has now been refurbished into a modern hotel by some prominent French architects.
It was lunch time when we arrived and it was a special affair, with a unique vegetarian menu prepared by Chef Mohan just for us with a mix of Italian, Japanese, Spanish cuisines specifically suited for our Indian taste palettes!
My favourites were the watermelon feta cheese salad, Tuscan ravioli stuffed with homemade ricotta cheese and spinach, the butternut squash & parmesan pudding. I went a bit out of my comfort zone to try out their Quiche with organic Auroville blue cheese and walnuts. I’m not a fan of blue cheese but the taste was definitely masked to quite an extent that it was bearable. I also tried cold soup for the first time – a chilled gazpacho, which is basically a traditional Spanish cold soup, a refreshing dish for the summers! And for dessert it was Tiramisu with a kick of espresso and brandy. Needless to say we were stuffed!
Once we were done with lunch and we visited our rooms and were stunned by the colours! The four poster beds, ceiling to floor windows with blinds, and the deep blue colours, the intricate wooden furniture all seemed to tell a story of a bygone era.
We also took a walk around the property and every nook and corner is worth telling a story about. The architecture of the place is very old fashioned yet contemporary and gives you a perfect feel of living in colonial Pondicherry.
Hidesign Factory visit
The Hidesign Factory is about a 40min drive from LeDupleix. It’s situated in a huge area with greenery all around. It was started in 1978 by Dilip Kumar as a hobby, and soon it grew from a two man workshop to a company of more than 3000 spread all over the world.
At Hidesign there is no mass production or automation. All products are handcrafted using leather that comes from their own tanneries and brass buckles that are exclusively sand casted and polished in their forge. They only do vegetable tanning for the leather keeping in mind that their products like handbags and belts frequently come in contact with our skin, hence only vegetable dyes that are skin friendly are used. Most of their employees are women and have been with the company for 11 years or more.
Every cut, and every stitch is done by hand and it was really interesting to see the skills that the workers had picked up over the course of many years.
Hidesign believes in sustainability and the waste material is segregated and reused. The company also has an annual recycling initiative called ‘The Art of Reuse’ which uses scrapped material to come up with new designs.
For our second day in Pondicherry we stayed at The promenade which is located just meters away from the Promenade beach/Rock beach in Pondicherry. It has a patio overlooking the sea, which gives you a spectacular view all day!
The rooms are quite spacious and you can get a glimpse of the light house and watch the sun rise over the sea in the mornings. It’s a simple hotel with a beach-y vibe and the graffiti around the place makes you feel like you are sitting surrounded by the ocean all around!
Sundowner + Dinner @ Bay of Buddha
Evenings are best spent by the pool side at The Promenade overlooking the rock beach. It’s calm and peaceful since the road is closed to vehicles in the evenings, and if you are lucky there is a cool sea breeze instead of sweltering heat.
After a hectic day out in the sun or even if you have been cooped up in your office all day, this place is a perfect way to chill with your friends and relax in the evenings.
We spent some time by the pool chatting and sipping on sangrias while more dishes were whipped up for us to munch on!
For dinner we went to the Bay of Buddha which is a roof top restaurant that serves pan-asian delicacies and we had an amazing dinner of sushi rolls in tofu, water chestnut and vegetables, momos and stir fried water chestnuts and bamboo shoot. The ambience is perfect for dining in the night and service is top-notch. This roof top restaurant is definitely a must visit when you are here!
After visiting the factory to see how Hidesign’s products are made, we also got to see the final finished product through their latest Rockstar collection that is soon going to hit the stores!
The collection has something for everyone from mini sling bags and handbags to totes in bright colours. Seeing the “behind the scenes” earlier in the day, made it extra special to be the first ones to get a touch and feel of the bags and shoot with them.
We got a chance to shoot at The Storyteller’s Bar in The Promenade, which is one of the most frequented places in Pondicherry. The place has really creative and cute decor and is perfect for a night out in town. Great food, drinks and ambience all around! After a hectic two days of going around town, visiting the factory, shooting and more, it was time to wind down and let our hair loose. The rest of the night was spent dancing away to the awesome music!
Overall this trip with Hidesign was amazing in so many ways. The specially curated menus, the never ending tables of food one after the other, and the hospitality shown by the brand, the team of Hidesign, and the entire staff of both the hotels made it a super memorable one!
So here’s us signing off until the next time!