Travel Trade Journal
There is no end to fun and discoveries in Pondicherry
Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry or just Pondy, is situated around 150 km south of Chennai on the eastern coast of India. Pondicherry takes one on an amazing walk back in time. This is a city of bon vivants, where heritage, peace, delicious food and memories are in store just for you. Pondicherry will never disappoint the explorer in you!
Pondicherry, now officially named Puducherry, is a union territory of India situated in the Southern Peninsula. The Union Territory was formed out of four exclaves of former French India. The enclaves are situated in three different states. Pondicherry and Karaikal are in Tamil Nadu, Mahe is in Kerala, and Yanam is an enclave in Andhra Pradesh. All of these enclaves were under French occupation before they were handed over to India. Each enclave shares a mixed cultural heritage, combining its South Indian roots with a French colonial past. After the French left it, Pondicherry has managed to retain its French influence with tree-lined avenues and Mediterranean-style houses that lend it a curious nonIndian touch.
Historical significance is found everywhere in Pondicherry. From being an important trade destination for the Romans to being under the control of the Pallavas, Cholas and Pandya. Later, the reigning hands shifted to the Sultanate of Madurai, followed by the Vijayanagar Empire. Then came the colonisers from Europe whose influences are ever present in the stillstanding monuments, especially in a part of the city called the White Town, the French Quarter of Pondicherry.
All the streets of White Town are characterised by beautiful mustard colonial buildings with bougainvillea burdened walls. These are sprinkled with cozy cafes and chic boutiques that provide delicious French cuisine and beverages. Walking down these streets can give the tourist an entrance into the fairy-tale beauty of Pondicherry. With well-defined seating, amazing sea views, and beautiful cafes such as the Le Cafe, the White Town Promenade is one of the most visited places in Pondicherry.
The township of Pondicherry is planned on a grid system, which is to say that the roads meet each other at right angles. On the seaward side is the long Petit-Canal, which divides the town so that the French township is on the side facing the sea and the predominantly Indian and Tamil on the other. However, this former French colony may be a perfect amalgamation of the standard Indian sensibilities and French architecture, making it a dreamy escape that gives the simplest of both worlds.
The sea is the soul of Pondicherry. It is not possible to leave Pondicherry without being allured by the beaches and the sea. Spotless beaches and elegantly decorated promenades around this coastal city, which are simply ideal for viewing a magical sunrise or sunset. Watching the sunrise over the deep blue area of the Bay of Bengal is an adventure that everybody should have while in Pondicherry. The place offers different water sporting facilities for the sun and beach lovers. Scuba diving, kayaking and surfing courses are available in Pondicherry and this attracts numerous tourists to the area. Over the recent years, Serenity Beach has come up as one of the most important surfing destinations in the region.
Pondicherry offers a variety of cuisines. From South Indian delicacies to fresh, from continental cuisine to Creole, authentic French to Italian; Puducherry will spoil you with its food options. Creole food in Pondicherry is not only a potpourri
of French and Tamil cuisine, it is also influenced by Portuguese and Dutch.
With the slow pace of life in Pondicherry, it makes an ideal destination for a relaxing holiday. Being a beach town, Pondicherry has a considerable number of resorts that offer the best in luxury accommodation and panoramic views of the ocean. The city’s glamour is not just limited to its expansive beaches, its heritage landscapes and facades also entail beauty along and the lush gardens set a meditative ambiance and with natural forests nearby.
Pondicherry is a yearlong destination, but summers can be warm, so bring your sunscreen and glasses along. During rains, you can easily get around the city because there is never any flooding incident. The months of October to March are the best time to visit Pondicherry as the temperatures stay at a pleasant 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.
The best way to see Pondicherry and its surrounding areas is by renting out a bicycle or a motorcycle from the several outlets on Mission Street and MG Road. For the wandering travellers, the spiritual seekers, the historians, or the nature lovers; the French Riviera of the East should be a must-visit on everyone’s list.
A visit to Pondicherry is an experience that no seasoned vacationer would want to miss. Besides the White Town and Heritage explorations, there are plenty of places to visit in Pondicherry in one day, However, a retreat to the idyllic town for two or three days is an even better choice, especially, if you wish to explore the variety of attractions that it has to offer.
This is one of the most visited places in this beautiful coastal city. The beach stretches almost 1.5 km and has important landmarks that tell tales of bygone times. The statue of Joan of Arc, Dupleix’s statue, the old heritage hall, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, and the old lighthouse greet visitors at the beach. A visit to the Promenade Beach in Pondicherry is best undertaken in the early morning and late evening as the vehicular traffic is stopped and children can roam around freely on the street. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the awe-inspiring scenery at the beach.
Auroville, a popular spiritual and religious site in Pondicherry state, is very near to Chennai. Auroville was set up by people who believe in the teachings of Guru Aurobindo, as well as a new way of life separate from caste, creed and nationality. It is often mistaken to be a hippie hangout, but nothing could be further from the truth. People from all over the world who believe in a united spirit of kinship and harmony have built this place and named it the ‘City of Dawn’. The entire place exudes peace and unity and houses the famous Matrimandir Meditation Centre, the Main Road Market selling locally made soaps, perfumes, trinkets and clothing, delicious organic food at the Auroville Bakery. This is a must-visit tourist place in Pondicherry with the family.
Gorgeous fountains, Japanese rocks, a large aquarium with beautiful fishes, a stunning children’s train and a dancing fountain, the Botanical Garden in Pondicherry is indeed a blissful place for travellers of all ages, especially for kids. Founded by C.S. Perrottet in the year 1826, this oval-shaped Botanical Garden is spread over 11 hectares of land and is reckoned to be one of the most frequented tourist destinations in Pondicherry, mainly because of the exquisite floral species that compel tourists from far and wide. There are other compelling sights of rich greenery.
Chunnambar Boat House
One of the best ways to experience Pondicherry’s pristine natural beauty is to take the ferry from Chunnambar Boat House, located near the mouth of the Chunnambar Creek, which operates boating and other leisure services. While the Chunnambar Boat House is best known as the sole access point to Paradise Beach, it also has options for several activities, such as backwater boating.