Pondicherry: A French Abode in India
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Sitting on the shore of a charming beach, enjoying the lovely sunset away from the hustle and bustle. A beautiful dream, isn't it? And Pondicherry is exactly a dream and fantasy which we all want to experience. Its amazingly clean beaches, radiant streets, flamboyant roads, and French city design have earned a place in everyone's heart. A Visit to this city would make you forget that you are still in India and not in France. If you haven't been to this charming and serene coastal city, what are you waiting for? It will surely give you a memory for a lifetime.
Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry, was a French colony and later on became an Indian Union Territory. "Puddu," as the locals call it, was not a favorite tourist spot for a long time, but it started sparkling its magic over the tourists almost a decade ago. Now it enchants tourists from all over the world to experience its lovely beaches and astounding French architecture.
Being a French Colony, you could easily sense a french ascendancy. You would even find the street signs in the city in both Tamil and French languages. Most of the citizens speak French, and you would also find some French natives living over here. Pondicherry provides the best experience of both worlds as it is a perfect party destination and ideal for peaceful and relaxing vibes. Apart from its scenic beauty, it also has some phenomenal places and some thrilling activities that will surely strike a chord in your heart. Let's have a look at some exciting activities and must-visit places in Pondicherry.
1) PROMENADE BEACH
It is also known as 'Pondicherry Beach' and undoubtedly is the most beautiful and serene beach in the city. Located in the middle of Pondicherry, it is a 1.2 km long stretch starting from War Memorial and ending towards Goubert Avenue. Having a walk at this lovely beach is going to rejuvenate you. The place looks astonishing during sunsets and sunrise. Not to forget about the variety of sea-facing restaurants that provide you with lip-smacking food and picturesque views. Moreover, vehicle entry is banned, giving you a chance to sink in the tranquil and serene atmosphere.
Pro Tip: Do give a visit to Le Cafe located near this beach. The cafe transports you back to the time when Pondicherry was a French colony. It gives you a chance to savor authentic French cuisines. The cherry on the cake represents old photographs of the city Pondicherry that are placed in the cafe.
2) FRENCH WAR MEMORIAL
One of the best memorials in the country was built in the year 1971. It is a tribute to all the residents of French India who passed away during the first world war. On July 14th(French National Day), the memorial is decorated beautifully, and people from across the city come to pay their respects. It's a unique style of architecture that has caught the eyeball of many tourists. Surrounded by lush green gardens and a tranquil atmosphere, it is a place worth seeing. Read more fun-facts about this memorial in this informative blog.
3) SERENITY BEACH
Clean shore, fresh air, and appealing palm trees have made this beach a favorite spot for tourists. The radiant sand, along with the sparkling water of Bay of Bengal, makes it a sight to cherish. It's a calm and peaceful atmosphere that has won the hearts of the tourists. You can also spot fishing boats, a flea market, and a surf school as you explore the beach. The beach is also a hub to many marvelous cafes and restaurants.
Popularly known as the 'city of dawn,' it was founded by Mirra Alfassa in the year 1968. It is a universal town where people from all countries and caste are welcomed and live in peace and harmony. At the center of the city, you will find Matrimandir, a humongous golden sphere which stands as a symbol of divinity. Utmost silence and peace are maintained inside the premises of the temple. A visit to this temple relaxes your mind and paves a way to connect with the supreme power.
Apart from this, Auroville Beach or Auro beach is another sight to behold. It is one of the finest beaches in Pondicherry. The beach is ideal for all swimming and surfing lovers. You may also be lucky to find Olive Ridley Sea Turtles on the beach. Moreover, you can also enjoy the lovely view of the lighthouse at night. In addition to that, it is one of the few beaches where you would find shacks. It is the ultimate beach to have fun and lighten up. To know more fun activities at Auroville read this lovely blog by Anna.
5) MANAKULA VINAYAGAR TEMPLE
It is one of the major Hindu temples in Pondicherry dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Thousands of devotees come to this temple to offer their prayers and cleanse their minds and contemplate. The temple stands strong as a symbol of faith and divinity. Entering the vibrant halls of this place of devotion, you will notice a magnificent golden chariot made up of 7.5kg gold—the chariot was made from the donations given by the devotees. The spectacular architecture and the designs on the wall are surely going to impress you. You can also shop for souvenirs from the local shops located around the temple.
6) AAYI MANDAPAM
It is a serene white monument built during the reign of Napoleon III, the great ruler of France. It is located in the middle of the Bharathi Park, Pondicherry. A glimpse of the monument is going to blow you away. The architecture is inspired by the Romans. It is surrounded by a lovely garden with pretty flowers. A myth is also associated with it. It is believed that a woman named Aayi demolished her own house to provide water to the town. Recognizing her efforts, Napoleon built Aayi Mandapam in her honor.
7) OUSTERI LAKE
Also known as "Ossudu Lake," it is a human-made lake and one of the most scenic places in Pondicherry. The lake is mostly filled with lotuses, and one can find many unique bird species around this lake. Sunsets and sunrise add to the exiting beauty of the lake. Boat rides are also available here, which gives you a tour of the natural beauty surrounding the lake.
8) BASILICA OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
It is one of the favorite spots for both tourists and locals alike. It was built in the 18th century and is a masterpiece in gothic style architecture. The church was built French missionaries, and in 2011 it was honored with the title of Basilica. The occasions such as New Year, Christmas Eve, and Easter Day are celebrated with great pomp and show. The life journey of Christ is depicted through rare stained glass panels. It has become a favored choice for pilgrimage and tourism with its unique style of architecture and great religious significance.
Chunnambar is a small settlement situated along Cuddalore Road. Many tourists visit the town to enjoy the serene and tranquil ambiance. The most famous attraction in this town is its beach; it is also referred to as 'Paradise Beach.' Its crystal clear water and radiant sand have become a famous spot for sun-bathing and sports activity. The facility of a short cruise is also available at this beach so that the tourists can explore the hidden beauty of the beach, and if lucky enough, you could also spot dolphins playing and jumping in the water.
In addition to that, you may also find various backwater boat tours. Chunnambar backwaters are deep, and you are only allowed to go in the boat with life jackets. The journey is filled with thrill and permits you to see pristine backwaters.
10) PONDICHERRY MUSEUM
Situated on Saint Louis Street, it is one of the most prominent museums in Puddu. The museum has a lot of noteworthy collections of rare bronzes and stone sculptures and unique artifacts excavated from Arikamedu(a port that had connections with the Roman Empire.) The major attraction in the museum is three curious transport mechanisms. Other unique things found in the museum are the fossil room, a geology room, handicrafts, and French furniture.
11) BOTANICAL GARDENS
One of the top tourist places in Puducherry was established in 1862 by C.S. Perrotet in a fancy French-style design. The garden is spread over 22 acres, houses severe rare species of plants, and has an aquarium which is home to various types of marine life. You can find more than 1500 species of plants from all over the world in this garden. The whole area is divided into 28 plots, and each plot has a separate theme. It also includes a Children's toy train, musical fountain, and Japanese rock.
12) WHITE TOWN
It is a residential area where the amalgamation of Tamil and French culture can be seen. Also called the French Colony of Pondicherry, it has quirky houses, colorful streets, and old French quarters. You would also find ancestry hotels, cafes, and restaurants that serve Franco-Tamil cuisine and various art galleries. It is a perfect place to see how two cultures blend into one. To know more about this magical place, you can also read this amazing blog by Kritika Goel.
All these places make Pondicherry a perfect travel destination. An average trip to the city costs around 10k-12k. The city can be reached by roadways or railways as no direct flight is available to Pondicherry. The nearest airport is Chennai International airport. From the airport, you can choose to travel by road or railways. The place has a lot more to offer than these destinations. So, be ready for a memorable experience of your lifetime by visiting Pondicherry after this lockdown.