The charming, quaint town of Pondicherry is a destination that offers something for all types of travelers. From beautiful beaches and delectable food to stunning French architecture, Pondicherry has it all.
Pondicherry, now known as Puducherry and popularly referred to as just Pondy, is one of the seven Union Territories of India and is known as the French Riviera of the East. This charming town has retained its old-world charm and comes very close to giving you a feel of the French culture without actually being in France.
I spent a laidback weekend in Pondicherry recently and here’s a list of places I recommend checking out while in Pondy.
Places to Visit in Pondicherry
1. Auroville and Sri Aurobindo Ashram: The place to have a spiritual awakening
Pondicherry is an abode for spiritual enlightenment, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Pondy is Auroville. Conceived as the ‘Universal Town,’ Auroville is an experimental township with the idea of creating a city where people from all over the world with different cultures and traditions come and live together in peace. It is one of the top places to visit in Pondicherry.
The highlight of Auroville, however, is Matrimandir, which literally translates to “temple of the mother.” It is a massive golden dome, and it is worth planning a trip to Auroville just to see the architectural wonder that is Matrimandir. To go inside the temple, you need to get a pass in person at least 2-4 days in advance so make sure you plan your trip accordingly.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual community situated in the heart of the French quarters. What really caught my eye here was the beautiful display of unique and exotic flowers. The place is extremely peaceful, and if you’re someone who enjoys some serenity, this is the place to go!
2. White Town: A glimpse of France in India
White Town is the French part of Pondicherry, and as the name suggests, this area was reserved for the white (French) people back in the day.
Walking around White Town, you will spot bright yellow and white walls, arched gates lined with bougainvillea, and clean European-style streets, making this area surreal and super picturesque. I was transported back in time, and the stunning French-inspired architecture makes White Town a visual delight.
It’s a pretty special spot that captures a thread of India’s past intertwined with the French. For that reason, White Town is a great place to visit in Pondicherry for any visitor.
3. The Promenade: A blissful stroll along the sea
The famous promenade of Pondicherry is situated along the gorgeous seafront with a rocky beach. It is one of the liveliest areas in Pondy and is located in the heart of the city, making it easily accessible. The promenade is a 1.2km long stretch that starts from the War Memorial and ends at the Dupleix Park on Goubert Avenue, and a stroll along the promenade is usually on every tourist’s agenda.
Right in the middle of the promenade is a magnificent statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. This four-meter high statue is made of black stone, and the space in front of it plays host to various cultural and musical activities throughout the year.
4. Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple: The ancient temple where you can get blessed by an elephant
Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. This temple was constructed over three centuries ago and still stands in all its magnificent glory. South India is famous for its beautiful temples but what I found most interesting about this temple was Lakshmi, the elephant.
She visits the temple everyday, and devotees offer her money and food upon which she blesses them with her trunk. She also goes inside the temple everyday to pray and watching a huge creature indoors is truly a sight to see.
5. Food in Pondicherry: Pamper your taste buds
Pondicherry is a foodie’s delight and is famous for the wide range of cuisines it offers. I tried to indulge in different kinds of food there and its safe to say I was not disappointed.
6. Street Shopping in Pondicherry
Pondy is fantastic for street shopping, and I ended up buying a lot of things without burning a hole in my pocket. There are lots of great spots to go shopping, but I liked one in particular: the line of shops right outside the Vinayagar Temple. Be sure to put your bargaining skills to good use while street shopping in Pondicherry.
Pondicherry isn’t your average holiday destination; it’s so much more than that! I’m glad I made a visit to Pondicherry to revel in its unique charm, and so will you!
Where to Stay
Where to Stay in Pondicherry?
Best Time to Visit
Best Time to Visit Pondicherry
The best time to visit Pondicherry is during winter and pre-winter, that is, between October and February. Summers in Pondicherry are very humid, so it’s best to avoid going there between April and June.
How to Get There
Getting to Pondicherry
Chennai International Airport is the nearest airport, 150 km away from Pondicherry. You can easily hire a cab or board a bus from the airport to reach Pondicherry.