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India is literally like a chest full of treasures waiting to be explored. Be it historical sites, ancient monuments, location with natural beauty, right from Snow-capped mountains to pristine beaches. India has it all!
But Pondicherry is like no other city in India. This city is Unique in more than one way and will take you back in time with its beautiful French colonies and establishments, which are preserved to date.
I have been to Pondicherry a couple of times, thanks to its proximity to Bangalore. Pondicherry offers distinctive experience of 2 different cultures where the New Age meets old-world charm. French town on one side and typical Indian town on the other. In addition to this, Pondicherry is a popular Spiritual destination and it’s visited by tourists from across the world. A beautiful coastline further adds to its beauty. Before I share the major tourist attractions of Pondicherry, Here’s a bit about the history of this place.
Pondicherry –the Background
Pondicherry now known as Puducherry was a French colonial settlement till the year 1954. Now it’s a union territory located in the Southern part of India along the Bay of Bengal.
Although this beautiful quaint town has a lot to offer, here is my list of must-visit places.
Walking tour of the French Colony – Visit to Pondicherry cannot be complete without spending some time in the French colony or the white town. Beautiful colonial houses painted in white and yellow, lined on both sides of the street along with trees and bougainvillea climbers. French colony still retains the old world charm and will take you back to that era. Most of the houses are now converted into boutique hotels, restaurants and boutique stores offering jewelry, designer clothes. I would highly recommend taking some time out and enjoying a long stroll exploring the French colony.
Promenade, MG Road – One of the best places in Pondicherry. The promenade is a boulevard by the sea, lined with trees and is a very lively place. Watching Sunrise early morning from here and a walk in the morning is a blissful and refreshing experience. Promenade is usually very crowded during the evenings with tourists as well as locals thronging to enjoy the sea. However, there are some nice restaurants by the sea which are a must-try.
The Rock Beach – By the Promenade is the beautiful rock beach where you can sit and enjoy the sunrise or evening coffee along with the cool breeze and soothing sound of waves. Although since its a rocky beach, most of the time one cannot reach the water but walk along the sea is a great experience, if you walk a little further you reach this half-bridge kind of structure where many of the popular Bollywood movies are shot.
Aurobindo Aashram – One of the most popular places in Pondicherry, especially amongst the tourist looking for Spiritual enlightenment. During the early half of the 20th century, Sri Aurobindo stayed here along with his disciples and Mirra Alfassa, the mother of the ashram. The Ashram has founded the idea of peaceful co-existence in township, which is practiced in the Auroville Township.
Even if you are not spiritually inclined, visit this Ashram is a really good experience. Photography is not allowed inside the Ashram so I could not click any pics but they have a beautiful display of different varieties of Flowers.
The ashram can be visited from 8 in the morning to 12 noon, or from 2 in the afternoon to 6 in the evening. Although I would recommend a morning visit.
The Immaculate Conception cathedral – Immaculate Conception cathedral is the cathedral mother church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore. This church was built in 1791 and bears a resemblance to the churches in France.
The Auroville – Designed by popular architect Roger Anger, Auroville is the experimental township that aims to develop the idea of peaceful co-existence. The township is located a little far from Pondicherry; visit this place is a unique experience. Auroville is also famous for the beautiful golden architectural wonder “ Matrimandir”. Standing tall in an open green area, the building glows and shines in Sunlight and is considered as a symbol of peace and serenity. If you want to visit the inner chamber of the Matrimandir for individual concentration, you need to book in advance at least a day prior. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit the inside chamber during any of our visits.
Paradise beach – Paradise Beach is situated in Chunnambar, close to Pondicherry town. Since Paradise beach is a part of a very Small Island, to reach here you have to take a ferry. It takes almost 30 minutes to reach the island; ferry takes you through the beautiful backwaters surrounded by the Mangroves.
Paradise beach has nice golden sand and the fact that you can walk through the entire island is really amazing. There are 1-2 shacks on the beach where you can get some snacks and fresh coconut water. We really enjoyed our trip to paradise beach; you can spend hours sitting on the beach and enjoying the waves. The ferry ride is opened till evening only and of course there are no stay options at the island so plan your schedule accordingly.
Serenity Beach – Yet another gorgeous but lesser-known beaches in Pondicherry. This secluded Fishermen beach is perfect for those looking out to spend a peaceful time by the beach or taking a dip in the sea. A lot of fisherman boats can be located on the shores.
So this was all about my favorite hangouts in Pondicherry! A visit to this quiet town is a must for those looking for a different kind of experience.
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