Pondicherry

April 03, 2020


pondicherry puducherry colorful colourful houses seaside india french architecture

Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry, is a former French colony that has a charm quite unlike any other Indian city. It is a city that has managed to blend two cultures seamlessly; the French influence as well as the Tamilian culture. You’ll find beautifully painted houses in the old quarter known as white town. The vibe of the area brings you back to a colonial style feel with large open streets and quiet concealed houses. As you peak through the open gates, you are brought back to a French like era of hidden courtyards beyond the front gates. The entire area feels quaint and quiet. With the access to the beach for evening and morning walks and restaurants open around every corner, this place is great place to spend a quiet few days. The area also comes alive during New Years and Christmas with decoration abound everywhere.

Getting to Pondicherry isn't an arduous task. It is quite well connect via flight, train and road. You could fly in directly to Puducherry airport. Alternatively, fly into Chennai and grab a taxi to Pondicherry. The distance is approximately 135 kilometers and a cab will set you back by around 2400 rupees. The journey will take approximately 4 hours. Want to grab a train instead? Pondicherry has its own train station. If all else fails, you could take a bus from Chennai to Pondicherry.

Staying in the main area of Pondicherry is divided by areas called white town and heritage town. White town is where the French architecture buildings are located. It is a relatively small area roughly about three to four streets and houses most of the 4 star hotels as well as some stylish boutique hotels. White town is quiet, serene and seeping with history. Evening walks by the promenade is a great way to spend your evening here. There are ice cream parlors open. Little restaurants to get snacks. Walk by the beach and pop in and out of little cafes along the way. 

If you decide to stay in white town area, take a morning walk by the beach, it is peaceful, clean and you’ll find the locals out and about exercising in the morning.


pondicherry puducherry colorful colourful houses seaside india french architecture

Heritage town, located on the other side of the canal, separates the two areas. It is a busier place with more locals living in the area. It is typical of a normal Indian town where there are hotels located among retail shops, houses and even schools. This place will have cheaper hotels, some of them pretty nice boutique style places. The area is also dotted with motorbike rental places around every corner. The food options here are varied from simple places to some pretty good restaurants.

Hotels to consider in White town area are The Promenade which is a 4 start beach facing property, Le Dupleix a 3-star heritage styled property, Palais de Mahe a 3-star boutique CGH Earth property and Villa Shanti a 4-star heritage styled boutique hotel with a fabulous in-house restaurant. La Closerie, although not a hotel, is a pretty quaint heritage style villa with a pool.

Hotels to consider in heritage town area are The Bull Boutique Hotel, Maison Perumal Hotel and La Maison Charu.

Pondicherry also has some resorts located away from the main white town area which offer beach access and more resort style vibes. These places are great for a beach getaway. You could book a taxi or an Uber to get you into the main white town area for some sightseeing. Alternatively, most of the resorts will help you out with bike rentals as well if you wish to be independent.

Resorts in Pondicherry to consider are The Windflower Resorts Spa and Le Pondy Resort.

Alternatively, there are a few Airbnb properties in Pondicherry to consider for a great stay. Properties such as Casa Meena, Colonial Room in the French Quarters, Sea View Orchid House, Serenity Beach Gulkhand House, Voguenvilla, Alex House Serenity Beach, The Hermit Crab and Beach View Apartment are some places that come highly recommended.

While in Pondicherry, check out the beaches in the area such as Auroville beach, Promenade beach, Paradise beach as well as Serenity beach to name a few. If you’re interested in learning to surf, Kallialay surf school is the place to head to.

Dining in Pondicherry is so varied as it offers everything from Indian cuisine to some pretty good French restaurants. Dining in Pondicherry will take you to some of the prettiest places to eat at. Villa Shanti is located in White town area and has one of the best food in Pondicherry. Best planned for a romantic couple night out, it offers great food and ambiance. Café des Arts another great place to hang out at has an informal and artsy vibe. Crepes in Touch makes really good crepes. It has an artsy vibe and open seating in a beautifully restored villa. The staff are super friendly and sweet. The place also has a gift shop for you to pick up some artsy souvenirs. Baker street, a bakery cafe, offers the best croissants I’ve ever eaten. The desserts are to die for especially their chocolates. We ate breakfast here daily while we were in Pondicherry. Last but not the least, Les Saveurs, which is a decent dining option. While it isn’t as great as the other ones I’ve mentioned above, it does have some nice dishes on offer.

Shopping in Pondicherry is varied with some small boutiques in the white town where you can to pick up anything from leather goods to clothing. There are local Indian shops in heritage town that will sell just about anything from local produce to saris. Fab India is an Indian boutique store that offers some interesting designer styled clothing, accessories as well as natural products. It is located in heritage town but definitely a place to try out if you are looking at picking up items for your trip.


matrimandir auroville commune pondicherry puducherry india

While in Pondicherry, you need to head over to Auroville. It is a commune that consist of Indians as well as people from other countries all living and sharing in the community. Located approximately 13 km from main Pondicherry town, it is actually on the outskirts of the Pondicherry and part of the commune is also located in the state of Tamilnadu. 

Auroville was designed to be a universal town for people of all countries to live and coexist peacefully. It was built on the realization to achieve human unity. In the middle of the town, you’ll find the Matrimandir, a golden sphere, which is a place of tranquility and peace. To visit the Matrimandir, you’ll need to park your vehicle at designated areas and walk into the compound. They do charge a fee to access the area. The routes are properly designated and there are staff along the way to show you the way. You’ll get a chance to walk through some pretty quaint gardens and mini forest area where you’ll find many kind of plants and trees well marked out for you to observe.

Within the visitor’s area, there is an auditorium which plays a video depicting the commune’s history and what they do. They also have a museum for you to walk through. There are gift shops, food places and small cafes for you to sit and enjoy your lunch while you’re visiting the commune. The most interesting part about Auroville is how the people live within the commune. With an almost 50,000 strong population, they don’t use paper currency and instead are given account numbers that connect to a central account. The people here work within the commune and run businesses as well. Auroville is well worth a visit if you are in Pondicherry.

If you are interested in living within Auroville itself, they do have guest houses. More information can be found on Auroville on their official website at https://www.auroville.org

If you’re planning a trip to Pondicherry, you’ll require 2 to 3 days to get around as the main town isn’t vast. It might be best to couple your stay in Pondicherry with a few nights in Auroville to experience something out of the ordinary. In any case, Pondicherry is a great vacation spot for anyone coming into India or a local trip. Coupled with a great beach vibe, french food, quaint streets and the spiritual vibe of Auroville, this place is fantastic way to spend a few days away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.



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