Hello dear Readers, so here I am with the possibly most awaited post on my trip to PONDICHERRY. Pondicherry is really close to my heart, since last two years I have been visiting regularly. The main attraction is my sister staying over there and I don’t want to lose the opportunity to visit this French town over and over again. There are many reasons why people from all over the world visit South India. From its best reputed colleges, Universities, Hospitals, various MNCs you name it and the Southern most part of our country has it. But besides all these what attracts tourists from all over the world are its pristine beaches, temples that dates centuries back, architecture, hills, forests and what not. It has so much to offer. But of all places what attracts me the most is Pondicherry, though I have reasons to love the place yet there is something more to it.
Puducherry is the Indian Union Territory and the capital city is known as Pondicherry- Give Time A Break. A wonderful tagline they have. Since 2006 it is officiallyy known as PUDUCHERRY. The arrival of the British, Dutch, Portuguese, French colonialists is what added to the city’s heritage. The French aura of the White Town is sure to drift you to a wonderful place which is so different yet similar from other places of our country.
How to reach Pondicherry?
There are no domestic airports in Pondicherry, yet train and bus connectivity is there. you can take a train from Chennai and reach Pondicherry or else you can take a bus or hire a cab/taxi. Chennai is well connected with flights and trains. Hired taxis generally charges Rs 2500-3000, you can also go for shared ones or Buses which will be much cheaper. It takes around three hours to reach Chennai is there are no traffic jams on the road.
So well here are few interesting things to do in Pondicherry, and you cannot miss any one!!
8 Interesting Things To Do When You Are In Pondicherry
1. Exploring the White Town, Pondicherry in a bicycle or a scooter
The first to do is to explore the white town. For that the best thing is to visit the Mission Street which is located in the center of the town and one of the busiest roads, there are lots of shops from where you can hire a bicycle or a scooter on rent for a day or for your entire duration of stay. Its very affordable, they will keep your valid photo id-proof and return it when you hand them over their vehicle. So we hired a scooter and went all over the White Town where there are lanes, by-lanes, streets, and all are connected parallel to the main stretch along the Promenade Beach. Less traffic, smooth well pitched roads, green trees all around and the French designed houses and restaurants, the ride is something to linger on your mind for the rest of your life.The White Town is best place for some candid photography. Don’t forget to click a picture near the French Consulate.
2 . Give light to the spiritual part of your life
There is also a spiritual side to Pondichery. In 1926 Shri Aurobindo with his spiritual collaborator, the Mother founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Located on a busy street yet there is much peace and silence once you enter the ashram, spend some time meditating there, it shall provide you internal peace of mind. Visit the Ashram at Visiting hours from 8am to 12pm and again from 2pm to 6pm. They also have this library with lots of spiritual books. Once you are there you will sense some kind of purity and contentment in your soul.
Reach the main road from there and there is the Manakula Vinayagar Temple. Of all the many temples in Pondicherry this is the main tourist attraction may be due to it’s located at the center of the city. Before the French came and settled down, the temple was there and there are forty different forms of lord Ganesha and special attraction of the temple elephant Lakshmi to bless the devotees visiting. Take some flowers and offer it to the Lord.
There are also many churches in Pondicherrylike Eglise Notre Dame des Anges Church also located in the White Town surrounded by Dumas, Surcouf and Romain Rolland streets. With the French names of the streets it’s a unique way to preserve the culture and the heritage of the French Town in its purest form.
3 Visit Auroville
A motobike or scooter ride to Auroville is the most exciting part for me. You must visit Auroville, which is located in Villupuram district. Auroville was founded by ‘Mirra Alfassa’ who is also called as ‘the mother’. There is a huge dome shaped golden structure, known as The Matri Mandir, people go there for meditation. It is a township where irrespective of any differences men and women from all over the world can come and live in peace and harmony. You can also hire a cycle there to reach The Matri Mandir.
4. Hit The Beaches
Pondicherry is all about its lovely beaches, It is on the coast of the Bay Of Bengal and for beach lovers like me its the right place just for you. There are four popular beaches in Pondicherry – The Promenade, The Serenity, The Paradise and The Auroville Beach. The Houseboat ride across the backwaters to reach Paradise beach is something you cannot miss. A walk or a ride on the historical Promenade that is situated along Goubert Avenue where vehicles are not allowed past 6 pm the whole stretch is open only for pedestrians. The stretch also had the Mahatma Gandhi statue and the War Memorial to honor the fallen French Soldiers of World War I. Enjoy the sea, sand and sun there. With less traffic, the street looks like some sort of carnival going on with streets crowded with hawkers, street amusements, tourists, local visitors who come to enjoy the sunset.
5. A long drive along the East Coast Road
If both the sunset and the sunrise amuses you than a long drive along the East Coast Road or ECR which is famous for its scenic beauty is a must in your list of things to-do in Pondicherry. The ECR is a two lane highway that connect Chennai to Pondicherry, it runs along the coast of Bay of Bengal. Tall palm trees, the sea, the soothing breeze all giving you a therapeutic effect on you.
6. Relax in the Café, Boutique restaurants,Bistros, Beach Resorts of Pondicherry
Pondicherry is a place for feasting and merry-making. Throughout the whole year, you just don’t need a reason to party. There are heritage buildings in White Town some of which are converted to boutique hotels, pubs, cafes, bistros, restaurants. The heritage buildings are designed in classic French architecture with the walls painted in yellow or Grey giving the town its unique identity. Enjoy your lunch at Le Dupleix, which was the residence of former French Governor General Joseph Francois Dupleix. Or just enjoy your morning breakfast at Bon Bakes or have your taste buds relish on some yummy south Indian cuisines at Aadyar Anand Bhavan. Cafe Des Arts situated in 10,Suffren Street,White Town is a good place for French classics. Baker Street is famous for quiches, macaroons, pasteries, French cookies and deserts. After a hectic tour chill down in the beach resorts of Pondicherry of which the most popular ones are The Club Mahindra Beach Resort, The Ocean Spray, Le Pondy.
7. Have a Look around the Pondicherry Museum
The word museum do sounds boring and monotonous but friends its the only place where we can know the history and how the place came into being. The Pondicherry museum is an interesting one, with in display weapons, coins, manuscripts etc of the Colonial period, huge burial urns, conch shell jewelries, and many items from the Arikamedu excavation.They have a rare collection of stone and bronze statues from Pallava and Chola dynasty, some of which are huge statues of Lord Ganesha, Lord Nataraja, beautiful temple lamps, etc. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside so I am not able to share any pictures. Moreover the museum is located in Saint Louis Street which is within the main town area. An hour is enough to go around the museum.
8. Enjoy the House Boat Ride
To visit the Paradise Beach you need to reach Chunnambar which is 7km from the main city. There in the counter you can also book tickets for a House Boat ride. Facilities of Houseboat on the backwaters are available just like the one you see in Allepey, Kerela. If you have already been to Kerela and want to refresh your memories this houseboat is the best thing for you. You can enjoy the ride and there is also facility for staying overnight on the boat and enjoy the breeze.
Thanks for reading and I shall also write a full post on the best places to enjoy food while your stay in Pondicherry. Please drop in comments and also share your experiences. Till then goodbye.