Pondicherry for a long time was a place on my to-do list. With a few days off from everyday work life. Finally, decided to visit and explore the place. With just a day in hand, we had to cover the whole of Pondicherry.
To start with Pondicherry is a little French colony that was considered too small for an Indian town. It is located on the East Coast of India and very close to Chennai, the main centre of economics in South India. There are many different ways to travel from Chennai to Pondicherry, you could take the one which seems to be convenient. Being a place captured by different origins and French being the last, you could possibly spot many French people and architecture influenced by the French(French Baroque).
Back then the city was divided into two parts by a canal, the French Colony and the Indian Colony. Over time, the lines seem to be blurred but eventually, the French colony is now called the White Town and another part of town is called Heritage Town.
Tourists visiting Pondicherry prefer staying in the White Town, Auroville or some cosy place around but for us, as we had a very limited time, convenience mattered a lot so we decided to make Hotel Abirami Residency our home for the stay. Hotel Abirami Residency is a good 3-star hotel in the centre of the town and located near the marketplace. The hotel offered value for money rooms with affordable pricing and food.
As we reached Pondicherry late evening, we could not possibly plan anything around but we decided not to waste much of the time and visit the most famous cafe located on the Rock beach -The Le Cafe. The Le Cafe has been standing tall for over a decade now and is open all day and also during night hours with good food at extremely affordable prices.
The next day started for us at around 9 am. We rented an Activa which costed us Rs. 250 per day (without fuel ) which allowed us to have quick access around the town without depending on any public transport or cab service. , The places give you a feel of Goa to some extent with everything being quiet and a pleasant morning with slow-paced life, but this does not remain the same as the day progresses. I would advise moving out very early to explore, to have the real fun and taste of this beautiful place.
The white town has many colony and bungalows of Franco-Tamil architecture. Strolling through the streets of White Town you can witness the beauty of this town. In contradiction to the picturesque White Town Pondicherry also has a bunch of concrete structures where the poorer section of society lives in.
The are many churches all around the town with distinct design and colour elements inspired by European style of architecture and at the same time, there are churches representing the architectural style of South India.
The very first thing we did was head towards Auroville and I must say the scenic beauty of this place and clean roads help to soak in all the good things about the place. A visit to Matri Mandir is a must, an iconic golden structure that symbolises universal brotherhood and peace. The place is home to people from over a dozen nationalities. Matri Mandir has everything which gets you back to the roots of all human beings-the nature. As this is a place full of tourists, you might find many cafes on the way which are operated by foreign nationalist and serve very good French and Indian meals.
On our way back from Auroville we visited the beautiful; Serenity beach, a scenic long stretch of sand with many cafes, hotels and shacks to chill out. We had a plate of freshly made fish which was made with local spices, fried to perfection and garnished with onions and coriander.
Other places of interest include the Aurobindo Ashram, Governor’s palace, Manakula Temple and Statue of Dupleix. This could be the main eternity to follow in the city of Pondicherry. Also, make sure to visit churches all around the town.
If you are looking to have some authentic south Indian meal after having variety of fish and chicken, Surguru is a must-visit pure vegetarian restaurant located in the heart of the city. The place was filled with tourists and locals. Despite having a long queue, we were fortunate enough to find seats.
After having a good meal, we were all charged with energy and we headed towards Paradise Beach. One of the best things about this beach is that you need to take boats or kayaks from the Chunnambar boathouse. The beach is blessed with a gorgeous view and offers many interesting water sports. It is one of the cleanest and best beaches in Pondicherry and as the name suggests truly gives you a feeling of Paradise. The beach also has restaurants, shower rooms and changing rooms. Operation hours are between 9 am to 5 pm and could cost around 200+/per person.
We took the very last boat back to the mainland. It was about 6 pm till we reached back to the White town. Our next stop was Promenade, one of the famous beaches in Pondicherry. As the name Promenade means a walk by the beach, it has a 1.2km long stretch.
There were many tourist and locals spending their time under the open sky alongside the blue ocean enjoying a peaceful evening having a good time. Vehicle entry is been banned during the evening hours, so we had to walk down the street. Strolling down the street you can see many prominent hotels, cafe and places that offer food.
Overall the beautiful town of Pondicherry left us amazed and in awe of its allure. We were on a very restricted time frame which left us with only a day in Pondicherry. As we had to leave the town the same night as we decided to wander around Chennai and the town of Mahabalipuram just to experience the streets and the town and about.
If your planning to visit Pondicherry make sure you take out at least good three days of the holiday by which you could cover exploration of the whole town.
I hope this post on Pondicherry would help you to properly schedule and plan your travel to this town.
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