After a beautiful road trip from Mumbai, we reached our destination, Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry. Although we were here for work, we always wanted to visit this beautiful old town, full of heritage buildings, spirituality, art, food and culture. And Pondicherry didn’t let us down even one bit. Here’s a bit of what to see in Pondicherry.
Pondicherry, officially known as Puducherry, is a city in the Union Territory of Puducherry. It’s a coastal town in the state of Tamil Nadu. Since Pondicherry was once a French colony, the city has a strong French influence over architecture, art, culture, food and also language. The streets still have French names like Rue Damas etc.
We stayed at the Hotel De Pondicherry, an old colonial era building, which has a great restaurant as well as promixity to the beach.
There’s plenty to do in this lovely city, after you have had your ample naps and relaxations! You could go for walks in its streets, hang around in lovely cafes, go for art galleries, shop around, visit one of the many museums or monuments, there are some old and beautiful temples and churches, or try the wonderful food. You could also visit one of the many Aurobindo centres, some for meditation, some have excellent libraries and they also make a wide range of hand-made paper.
Puducherry is distinctively divided into White Town and, well, the rest of it. White Town is where all the colonial heritage beauty is. If you want to stay in Pondicherry, do ensure you stay inside White Town (unless you want otherwise). The other part of town is like any other congested Indian city.
What to do in Pondicherry: Go for walks, visit musuems, libraries, read books, take long naps in the hot afternoons, hang out at cafes and art galleries, shop, and eat wonderful food.
Also go visit Aurobindo Ashram. They have libraries, hand made paper stores, meditation centres etc.
Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple is an ancient temple, built before 1666AD.
Visit the Basilica of Sacred Heart Of Jesus, a fine example of Oriental Gothic Architecture.
The Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges (The Church of Our Lady of Angels), in Rue Dumas, is notable for its masonry – which uses the finest of limestone mixed with white of the egg – making for a texture identical to that of white marble. Visit this Church at around 5:30pm to catch some awesome light coming in through its ceiling dome stained glass.
The Cathedral Of Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception was built around 1692 AD. Do visit.
Meeran Mosque is the oldest Mosque in Puducherry, built over 350 years ago. We couldn’t see it, but try and do.
Do visit the Pondicherry Museum. They have a fantastic collection of the history around this region.
Do go for evening walks on the Beach Road Promenade.
Nearby: You can visit Auroville, hardly 10km from Pondicherry. If you want to see their meditation theatre, you must book in advance. Auroville has wonderful landscape, libraries, cafes, meditation centres, places to stay etc. You could also book a place to stay in lieu of voluntary service. Check for these at Auroville.
Tranquebar, about 4hours’ drive from Puducherry / Pondicherry to Tranquebar is a wonderful 17th Centure Danish fort town.
Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary is roughly 4.5 hours from Puducherry and has blackbucks, wolves, many species of resident and migratory birds. There is also the Ousteri Wetland and National Park, which is essentially a bird sanctuary but also has many marine species. It’s some 10km from Puducherry.
Arikamedu is an ancient archaeological site with remains of a Roman settlement. It’s about 7 km from Puducherry.
Where to stay and what to eat? : There’s plenty. We are writing another post for that!