Pondicherry aka Puducherry is Union territory of India located in southern part of India. It is also referred as as Pondy. in short. Pondicherry was under french rule till 1954. Some of the people living there still speak French or English in French accent. This is most sought after place for peach and more importantly a much needed break from hectic lifestyle. It offers a unique experience with its mix of modern heritage and spiritual culture. It offers peaceful and serene environment with much needed vitamin SEA 😉 .
Typical weather and accessibility of Pondicherry
Since Pondicherry is located in southern part of Indian peninsula on East coast, the weather is usually warmer throughout the year. So there is no such ideal time to look for. Generally post monsoon time, typically from October to January might be little pleasant time. If you love rains then monsoon is also very good time.
Pondy is UT of India and is well connected with other parts of India via Roads and Railway network. All major cities have direct trains and good quality buses for the city. People can prefer their own vehicle as the roads are really good for driving. Specially if you are coming from Chennai then road trip is preferable. The East Coast Road from Chennai to Pondy via Mahabalipuram is just awesome.
What Makes Pondicherry an awesome destination
Pondicherry is a well developed and equipped city, due to which travelers find no hassle about anything, be it accommodation, food, roaming around or anything else.
Accommodation: The town has lots of places to stay for any kind of traveler. Be it a backpacker or luxurious one. Lots of small to big hotels and villas makes it extremely affordable for everyone.
Food: In general India is a diverse country with delicious cuisines from all around. Pondicherry is no exception to that. Good quality food and snacks are available everywhere in the city. Apart from that lots of authentic Italian and French restaurants are there to try. For Pasta and Pizza lovers, its heaven as huge varieties of these are available to try.
Culture and Architecture: Since Pondy was ruled by French for longer periods, their culture is still a major attraction. You can roam around and get a feel of French culture and architecture.
Beaches: Pondicherry is located on east coast. It has some really good and well maintained beaches to get the much needed vitamin SEA.
Spiritual Center: Pondicherry is also famous as spiritual city due to its rich spiritual history. Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville are two major spiritual centers in the city.
So all in all Pondicherry is a must go place for anyone and everyone as it suits to almost all kinds of people.
Top things to do in Pondicherry
The best thing to do in Pondicherry is to relax and soak into the rich heritage of the city. The two major things in Pondicherry is Sea Beaches and Spiritual Centers. I will cover both one by one so be with me till the end. Just after reaching the city, get two wheeler on rent as it is best way to roam around if you have come by public transport. Typical rent for a two wheeler starts from 250 rupees. Autos can take you to the place where you can rent the bikes.
Beaches in Pondicherry : Day 1
First day in Pondicherry should be spent on its beautiful beaches. Don’t forget to get the passes for Auroville meditation center. So start your day from Auroville, get the passes and necessary information for next day. After getting the passes, head towards Paradise Beach. Meanwhile have food and snacks as per your need. The beaches can be visited in following order.
Paradise beach is located approximately 8 KM from downtown towards Cuddalore. Its a beautiful beach where Chunnambar river meets Bay of Bengal and a beautiful beach line can be spotted. The beach can be reached by a boat operated by Chunnambar Boat House. Google maps will help you to reach there. But there is a trick, navigate for Chunnambar Boat House instead of paradise beach. They operate different kind of boats for the beach. Boat charges varies from 250 to 800 rupees to and fro depending on the type of boat you take. The beach is well maintained and equipped with all basic amenities like food joints, washrooms, security staff and water sports activities.
Take your time on the beach and enjoy the beautiful sea to the fullest at the same time be cautious enough. Don’t go to the sea if you are drunk.
Although this beach is located 15 KM in opposite direction of paradise beach, Its worth to visit the same in evening to witness a beautiful sunset away from the sea. It is little less crowded than the paradise. You can also give it a miss and keep it for other day while returning from Auroville. Do remember that the beach is closed at 6 PM so plan accordingly.
Spend some alone quality time and get beautiful snaps at serenity beach. There are temples on the way so those can also be visited according to one’s personal taste.
Rock Beach (A kind of Marine Drive)
The last spot for the day is beautiful Rock Beach. Just sit and relax, take a walk and have some street food at rock beach. This is not like a beach where you can soak into the sea. Its like you sit and spot the sea and get lost in your thoughts. I would categorize it as mini marine drive, as it is a long stretch of road beside the sea. It full with crowed during late evening. It starts from War Memorial and ends at Pondicherry Harbour. Gandhi Statue, War Memorial, Promenade, Le cafe etc are situated on the stretch. Lots of French and Italian Cafes are there near rock beach which serves authentic pizzas and pasta that must be tried. Also take a walk in French colony which is just on the other side of the road. Many places are also there for nightlife. So choose according to your taste buds.
There is one secret of Rock Beach which I want to highlight. Rock beach is a beautiful place to spot the sunrise. Sun can be seen coming out from the sea. In order to witness that you need to compromise with your sleep and get up early in the morning before sunrise. Also that time there will be minimal crowed. I am putting couple of pictures for motivation. 😛
So all in all rock beach is beautiful place which needs your presence in early morning and late evening hours.
Auroville, Aurobindo Ashram and Parks : Day 2
So you have completed a day in Pondicherry and witnessed the sea and other places in the city. Now is the time for some relaxation and sight seeing.
Construction of Auroville started in 1968 and is still under construction. The main purpose of Auroville is to unite people from different parts of the world irrespective of there social and cultural beliefs. Auroville is the place where people from different nationalities, religions and beliefs can live in absolute peace and harmony. The main attraction is Matri Mandir which has a Crystal Ball for meditation. For Matri Mandir view point, tickets are available anytime but meditation tickets needs to be taken a day before and you need to reach there at sharp 8:30 AM. There are various places where videos about Auroville is shown. Any kind of information can be obtained from information center. Matri Mandir can be reached by a internal operating bus or by walk from information center. I would recommend walk (at least one way), if the weather is pleasant as you will love the walk.
If you are taking a walk to Matri Mandir, you will find this :
and this big Banyan tree,
and these beautiful quotes as well.
After all you will find the Matri Mandir. Remember it is the way to matri Mandir view point. For meditation there is a separate way. Please follow that.
Do some meditation and immerse in serenity of the environment. There are boutiques where some souvenirs can be purchased but those are little costly. In house cafe is good.
After Auroville, Aurobindo Ashram can be visited. It is located in the city and also a good place for serenity lovers. The ashram is also the place of Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Main things which needs attraction is library and the crafts centers that make everything from perfumes to Ayurvedic medicines. Cafeteria services are also available in the ashram that serves snacks, meals and desserts. The Ashram timing is 8 AM to 12 PM and 2 PM to 6 PM.
Bharathi park is another nice place to be visited. It is most green place available in Pondicherry. People can spend some quality time here. It is ideal for leisure travelers and kids. Many monuments are there to get a good snap.
Pondicherry also has a botanical garden which is not as good as that of Ooty and other places to be frank but certainly a good one. Toy train ride is also there.
Pondicherry houses many beautiful churches as well.Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception Immaculee Church are two better one. These can be visited on persona interest.
These are pretty much places to go in 2 days stay at the city. Although there are lots of places on day 2, but its possible to visit all. Choice can always be made according to personal interest. Apart from these there are other attractions like Museum, Ousteri Lake and Markets are also there which can be visited if you are staying little longer. make sure t cover as many places as possible from the above listed ones first. Other places can be visited based on personal timing constraints.
So do give your time to this beautiful place and I promise that you will not be disappointing for your time and efforts. Do comment for any further information or suggestion. I will be happy to help.