Puducherry which is also popularly known as Pondicherry is a coastal union territory in Southern India. The union territory was once a French colony which is reflected in the culture and heritage of this place. The colonial architecture with mustard yellow façade distinguishes it from any city in India. The ages old cafes and bakeries of Pondicherry will sure sway you away with their French influence. The beaches of Pondicherry are some of the best in India, with spots for serenity and spots equally for younger generation. The place is also known for its spiritual side being the center for teachings of Sri Aurobindo.
In this blog we have listed some of the best places in Pondicherry that must be on your itinerary. Trip to 5this beautiful union territory is a must if all you have seen the heritage of British Colonial Times. This trip will give you a glimpse of the French colonial times.
Paradise beach is one of the best beaches of Pondicherry and is also known as Plage Paradiso beach. The best thing about this beach is that you got to take a ferry ride to get to this beach. The ferry ride that you will take will pass through Chunnambar backwaters which are surrounded by mangrove forests. It will also give you an opportunity of bird watching and you might also spot a dolphin. The bveach might be a little secluded but then it will also give you ample amount of opportunity to have fun.
Here you can easily indulge in a game of volley ball, or if you are traveling with kids, they can indulge in making of sand castles. On the beach you will find few shacks, fresh coconut water, and simple snacks. Do not expect some fancy sea side restaurants in this beach. Another great perk of visiting this beach is that you can choose to stay in one of the tree houses establishment over here.
The sand of this beach is soft. It is silvery and golden which gives this beach an edge over other beaches of Pondicherry. If you want some raw experience then you can also indulge in fishing at this beach by renting a fishing rod from the establishments over here.
White Town / French Colony
White Town or popularly called as French Colony or the French Quarter is the part of Pondicherry where the early settlements of French people was made. It has a heavy influence of Tamil and French culture, which you will realize once you will explore this part of Pondicherry. The architecture of White Town has stark similarity with the towns and villages of the Southern France. It is the French colony where you will find the popular yellow façade buildings of Pondicherry.
This part of the union territory is home some of the oldest heritage buildings, which are as old as 200 years. The must visit places in White town are the bakeries and cafes with French menu on almost every corner of this part of Pondicherry. When you will walk into them you will feel like taken back to the French Riviera, or some town of France.
This part of the union territory is like a treasure for the photography buffs. Here you will find plenty of avenues for capturing that perfect click. In India you will find many regions that have influence of British Colonial times, but this one has if the French, which makes it unique.
Auroville which is known as City of Dawn is a futuristic township located between Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. If the list of top places to visit in Pondicherry is being prepared then Auroville has got to be in it. This township symbolizes that people from different countries, regions, cast, creed, and backgrounds, can live together in peace and harmony. Auroville was established in the year of 1968 by Mirra Alfassa who is also known as ‘The Mother’ of Sri Aurobindo Society.
The top attraction of Auroville is the popular Matrimandir which is located in the center of the township. The spot is a great meditation pavilion, where everyone can gather and can connect to their inner self. There is an interesting fact about this township that during its establishment, soil from 124 countries was brought mixed and placed in an urn over here.
In Auroville you will find many organizations that will help you achieve peace of mind by practicing Yoga and meditation. The township is also popular for being home to Auro Beach which is very popular amidst the locals, and the travelers that visit Auroville.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
This was adobe of Sri Aurobindo who took refuge in Pondicherry after his strife with the British before independence. The ashram was founded by close disciplines of Sri Aurobindo in the year of 1926. This Ashram is a perfect spot if you are seeking some solace and inner peace. The ashram still organizes many meditation events and you can be a part of it, to rejuvenate your soul. This Ashram is also the site where the body of Sri Aurobindo rests in his grave.
The ashram is also a perfect place if someone wants to learn more about Sri Aurobindo or his teachings. There is also a canteen in this ashram that provides meals at very low cost. You can avail the food by buying coupons one day in advance. The gardens of this ashram are very well maintained, and you bound to find some peace while in this ashram.
The ashram is open to all, and you can visit it any day between the early morning hours till noon, and then post noon till evening. The popularity of this ashram is so much that people from all around the world pay it a visit during their trip to Pondicherry.
Old Lighthouse of Pondicherry is one of the most popular sites in the city. It was built by the French in the year of 1836 by a renowned engineer of that time. It is located just opposite to the famous Gandhi statue, on the Beach Road. The light house was shut down by the government in the year of 1979 but is still visited by people that admire its beauty and want to feel the old world charm. It is a symbol of architecture and engineering grandeur of those times.
The height of the light house is 29 meters. The lighthouse is now converted into a museum that serves as a source of information about the structure, and other maritime activities of the region. The premises of the old lighthouse are now used as a ground for cultural and musical events. Owing to its popularity the Old Lighthouse is frequented by many locals and even tourists.
Back in time Old Lighthouse was the only guiding force for the fleet of ships that arrived in the region via the route in Bay of Bengal. Many of the visitors of this old light house also come here for photo opportunities. They like getting clicked besides this tall lighthouse.
Botanical Gardens of Pondicherry is a fabulous place to visit, if you want to unwind yourself. It is spread across an area of over 22 acres, and was established in the year of 1862 by C.S. Perrotet. The botanical gardens will not just give you refuge from blazing hot sun, but you are also going to enjoy strolling in a French styled establishment along with admiring the rare species of flora. It is estimated that botanical gardens of Pondicherry houses more than 1500 species of flora.
The place is home to many species of plants that have medicinal value and these plants are studied here through regular researches. While visiting the garden you will see that the plants are all labeled with placards that highlight species name and information like usage of the plant or how much oxygen is generated by the plant. All of this put together makes Botanical Garden an interesting place to visit.
Apart from different species of flora, there also are fountains and aquarium in the premises. The place also hosts musical fountain show that are liked by all the visitors. It also houses a children’s park where kids can enjoy the train rides.
French War Memorial
French war memorial is one of the most important historic monuments of Pondicherry. It was established in the year of 1938 and is located at the Goubert Avenue. It was built in the honor of brave soldiers that lost their lives in World War I (1916 – 1919). The memorial is not just built to remember the sacrifices of the soldiers, but symbolizes that war leads to only loss of human lives and doesn’t even provides a solution. If you are a history buff then this spot is a must visit.
It is highly recommended that you visit this spot during the celebrations of Bastille Day which is on July 14th of every year when the monument is decorated with lights. In the celebrations, both locals and travelers get together to pay their respect at the memorial. During this time you will see this monument at its peak of glory, and some great pictures are guaranteed.
When visiting the French War Memorial you can also hop quickly to visit the nearby Gandhi statue which again is a popular tourist spot. You can cover both of these good spots of Pondicherry within a matter of an hour. Both the places are historical and liked equally by the visitors.
Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus
Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most scared and religious site of Pondicherry. It is frequented by locals, travelers, and the devotees that gather here to offer their prayers. The church was established in the year of 1908 by French Missionaries. The church is built in the Gothic style of architecture which you are going to admire once you visit it. The church is so popular that people from various countries visit it to offer their prayers.
Inside the church you will also find stained glass windows depicting the tales from life of Jesus. The other stained glasses have the pictures of a total 28 saints. All of them put together add beauty to this amazing church. Visiting this church is highly recommended as you will end up finding peace in the court of god or you will be stunned by gazing the architecture of this church.
The overall structure of this church is 50 meters in length, 48 meters in width and 18 meters height. The structure of this church is held by a total of 24 columns. Inside the church you can also get information about the history of its construction and info about its architecture.
Auroville Beach or also known as the Auro Beach is located in the Auroville, in Pondicherry. The beach is known for its calmness and is a bit secluded one. When you will visit Auro Beach you will realize that it is not much crowded like the other commercial beaches of India. Here you can enjoy the waters, and even swim in it. The tides at the beaches are low, hence people seeking surfing avenues and water adventure sports can enjoy here to the fullest.
The Auroville Beach is also perfect for photography enthusiasts, as there is not much crowd on the beach, the pictures taken here are clean and studded with natural beauty. The sun rise pictures on Auroville beach are just perfect, with the yellowish orange hues over the horizon. The pictures taken of fellow travelers are also perfect here because of the clean backgrounds.
The beach is easily accessible through cab services from any part of Pondicherry. It is a perfect spot if you are traveling with your family, or if you have kids travelling with you. Locals prefer this beach as a perfect laid back picnic spot.
Chunnambar Boat House
If you are a boating enthusiast then you should definitely visit the Chunnambar Boat House. It is located at the spot where Chunnambar River meets Bay of Bengal. It is also known as the Plage Paradiso because of its close proximity to Paradise beach. At this spot you can soak up in the sun, and enjoy water games. The spot also has many restaurants lined up along the water side, which serves some of best food options with variety of Chinese to North Indian.
Nature lover’s mu8st definitely head here, and if you are lucky you might also spot dolphins in the back waters. In here you can enjoy boating in motor boats, water scooters, sail boats, and speed boats. Cruising through the waters will give you amazing views of the waters and the surrounding region. Overall this spot is a perfect picnic spot that you can hit with your family or group of friends.
The place is also home to water resort which is managed by Pondicherry Tourism and Transport Development Corporation. There are lots of recreational avenues in this spot which vary from trekking, yatching, to cruise rides and beach games.
To travel is to live!