Pondicherry or Puducherry, in the south of India is a quaint former French colony and one of the biggest union territories of India. It is popular for its French colonial heritage & architecture and its strong association with the spiritual movement led by Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry also happens to be one of the few destinations in India I can visit many times and not get bored. In fact, its one of the few places which call out to me when I wish for few moments of tranquillity. Sharing my favourite things to do in Pondicherry:
1) Relax and Stroll by the Promenade Rock Beach – I can spend hours, if not days by the serene rock beach by the promenade. Looking out to the Indian Ocean, the rock beach is also popular with locals and tourists alike. It offers charming views of the sea as well as very interesting sights of daily life of locals.
2) Heritage Walk around White Town – The town planning of Pondicherry can be distinguished into parts – The White Town and the Tamil Quarters. As is evident by its name, The White Town is the erstwhile town means for the French colonial crowd. Today, its inhabited by people of all colours and the beautiful wide avenues with the French flavoured villas, colourful walls and buildings are a visual delight. I have spent many mornings and evenings walking around the White Town and being regaled by the visual delights in its many nooks & crannies.
1) Visit Aurobindo Ashram – Pondicherry’s history and culture would be incomplete without mentioning Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual movement. The Aurobindo Ashram is located right in the heart of White Town and it’s a very soothing experience.
2) Visit Auroville – This experimental town is located around 16 kms from the main city of Pondicherry and is the vision of ‘Mother’ the spiritual companion of Sri Aurbindo. In essence, it is said to be a physical manifest of the Aurobindo spiritual movement. Visiting this town is quite an experience! I was totally blown over by the scale of vision and the calm surroundings.
3) Shopping – Pondicherry has many interesting places to shop, the most famous home grown brand being Hidesign – which has its origins and production based in Pondicherry. The Hidesign store in Pondicherry offers many discounts and every time I’m in Pondicherry, I make sure to pick up my favourites at discounted prices. The other shops I like there are Ma Pondy Cherie (for interesting souvenirs), Cluny Embroidery Centre (for interesting embroidered pieces in linen) and Auroville in-house shops.
4) Eating out – Pondicherry has a thriving culture of eateries & pubs serving a plethora of cuisines from south Indian, French, French-Creole, Italian and much more. Some of my favourite places to eat out are La Villa, Rendezvous (for its pizza), Baker Street (for its yummilicious desserts), Choko La (for its sinful hot chocolate) Bay of Buddha (for its asian cuisine) and Surguru restaurant.
So if you are thinking of visiting Pondicherry sometime, make it soon!!
Read my other travelogues in South India here :