The good life, lies in Pondicherry. Perfect for a city break if you live in Bangalore or Chennai and easily accessible by an 3-6hour overnight bus. It is 135kms from Chennai which takes around 3-4 hours while it is around 350kms from Bangalore which takes 12 hours of travel time.
The culture there is synonymous to being laid back, sunny, great sea food and tax free alcohol. My favourite part of the city are the cobblestoned streets and beautifully painted houses of the French quarter, they’re just – Oh so French! and right in the middle of the Tamil hinterlands. Just walking the streets of the French Quarter tops my list of things to do in Pondicherry. The following is a list of the remaining 9 fun Pondicherry things to do in no particular order. Pondicherry is all about chilling, relaxing and cycling!
Pondicherry is a city blessed with a combination of 2 cultures which is very evident in its architecture. It is divided into several quarters like the French quarter by the sea & the northern Tamil quarter in the inner city.The French colonial architecture is evident in the cascading bougainvillea over mustard coloured walls, promenade, stately homes, gazebos and the old churches in the French quarter that is now known as the White Town. This was the base for the French East India Company from 1675 to 1954, with a brief time spent in the hands of the British. Cycling around both blocks gives you a varied insight into both cultures on one go.
The Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesh and is over 400-years old with forty stunning, must-see wall paintings. Don’t miss getting blessed by Laxmi the resident temple elephant in exchange for a coin or two. Walk away with a fun thump from her trunk on your head. Having survived attempts by French missionaries to pull it down, the popular temple and shrine is dedicated to the elephant-headed god, Vinyagar.
There are 32 churches in Pondicherry such as Dupleix Church, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Church of Our Lady of Angels, Sacred Heart Church, and Immaculate Conception Cathedral to take the name of few of the prominent ones. Their beauty lies not only in their French architecture but also with the solace they hold within. Irrespective of your religion, just a few minutes of silence and reflection within these churches it can truly put your mind at peace. I really liked the vanilla hued and chocolate-brown Sacred Heart Basilica which has some beautiful stained glass windows depicting the stories of Christ’s life.
The 30min boat ride to paradise beach is really exciting and fun filled. Your travel time can be dropped down to 15mins if you decided to take the jet-boats. The beach is truly paradise where the water is true blue and sand is golden and soft. With no signs of the busy city-life you can relax and lay on the beach or humour your companions with a fun game of volleyball. There are trees that line up until the far end of the beach and makes for a perfect shade spot in paradise.
Don’t leave without eating Crepes at Café de Flore in the Alliance Francaise complex. Pondicherry is heavily influenced with the French culture and what is French culture without cafes? From Baguettes to croissants and pastries to great coffee or wine, Their cafes have everything. Try as many as you can! For a more detailed post on restaurants to visit and what meals to eat there CLICK HERE Pondicherry can never let you down on the bakeries and the variety in sea-food.
Enjoy an evening walk down Pondicherry’s sea-front promenade, Goubert Avenue, lined by colonial buildings and cafes. Wander all the way down to the end of the pier and take a few moments to enjoy the sights and scents of the salty sea. Its a beautiful stretch where the french town meets the sea coast. Preferably best done as an evening stroll. Come here whenever you need some vitamin SEA. The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
Being a west-coast girl from Bombay, I’ve only been able to see beautiful sunsets in the city i live in. So it was a refreshing change for me to wake up early, cycle to the beach and watch the sun come up while sitting on the rocks eating my breakfast which consisted of the most yummiest sour creme baguette i had ever eaten. Everybody is an early riser here. So you will see people out and about their daily routines even at 5am.
The global peace city of Auroville beckons to discover your spiritual side. Either spend some nights at one of the many guesthouses at Auroville or take a day trip from Pondicherry. Dive deeper within your inner self by undertaking a meditation session or enrolling in various workshops and therapies they have to offer at Matri Mandir. You can also indulge in some arts and crafts by learning how to make indigo dyed clothing, incense and hand made paper.
Shopping for artsy craftsy environment friendly stuff and handmade paper, lampshades, jewellery, ethnic Indian clothing, paintings, candles is a breeze and you’ll find all this and more in the Auroville store. Thanks to the low taxes, all of the above are fairly cheap. It is also a great place to pick up French colonial antiques and furniture.
For more Instagram pictures through Pondicherry CLICK HERE