Pondicherry – Paradise on Earth

Former French colony and a Union territory of India, Pondicherry (also known as “The French Riviera of the East”) has been officially renamed to “Puducherry” (New Village) in 2006. From its breath taking beaches to its French style buildings and streets, Pondicherry has it all.

Planning for a trip to this beautiful enclave, then here is the list of “must-see” in Pondicherry

1. AUROVILLE :

Auroville

A universal township founded in 1968 with the purpose of realizing human unity. Spanning an area of 50 km, Auroville showcases lush greenery all around.The Matri Mandir (Temple of the Mother) which is at the core of this township is a 30 meter huge metallic golden globe (embedded with golden discs), designed to reflect radiance to the structure. An inner chamber of the dome holds the world’s optically perfect crystal ball. A single ray of sunlight irradiates the glass globe. In the late hours of evening, the crystal ball stays illuminated with the help of solar power. Matri Mandir is often referred to as “a place to find one’s consciousness”. Area around Matri Mandir is called as the “Peace Area“. A 100 year old “Banyan Tree” just adjacent to the Matri Mandir gives an epoch feeling. With its meticulously planned township that boasts of its architectural achievement, Auroville definitely tops the list of “must-see” in Pondicherry.

 

2. AUROBINDO ASHRAM:

Aurobindo Ashram

Founded in 1926 by Aurobindo Ghose (poet, philosopher, freedom fighter and yogi), this ashram is swarmed by people from all over for spiritual salvation. The Ashram being an embodiment of peace, divinity within oneself can be realized while in seclusion. The ashram is open for visit between 8 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 6pm daily. The Ashram is governed by strict rules and regulations to maintain decorum.

 

3. THE PROMENADE :
Promenade Beach
The pristine beaches of Pondicherry are ought to give you an “out-of-the -world” experience. You will be awestruck with admiration for the mystic beauty of the Promenade beach. A 1.5 km long walk runs parallel to this beach with the Statue of Joan of Arc, Heritage Town hall, Statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the sea front. For a soul-soothing experience, make sure you spend a while at the beach.

 

4. FRENCH WAR MEMORIAL :

French War Memorial
Located in Goubert Avenue, French War Memorial is dedicated to the brave hearts who lost their lives in the First World War. Every year on the French National Day (14th of July), the memorial is illuminated in their remembrance with people paying homage to the martyrs of war. Make sure you don’t give this place a miss!

 

5. BHARATHI PARK :

The Pondicherry Museum located at Bharathi Park on Saint Louis street exhibits archeological remains from the excavation of Arikamedu Roman settlement. The museum also holds a collection of Bronze and stone sculptures from the Chola dynasty. Arikamedu (an ancient Indo-Roman trade center) reveals the history of Pondicherry with age old artifacts excavated. The famous Aayi Mandapam (Park Monument) is located at the center of the park. This park is surrounded by prominent buildings like Lt. Governor’s Palace, the Legislative Assembly, Government Hospital and Ashram Dining Room.

 

OTHER PLACES TO VISIT:

  • Paradise Beach:

Located 8km from town on the Pondicherry-Cuddalore highway, this beach is flanked by a creek on one side and can be reached only after a furlong boat travel. The Serenity and Auroville beaches are amongst the other prominent ones.

  • Ousteri Wetland:

Located at a distance of 12km on the Pondicherry-Villupuram road, the Ousteri Wetland covers an area of 390 hectares with a variety of aquatic species that add to its beauty. The wetland vegetation consists of herbs, trees as well as migratory birds. The cool waters of the Ousteri Lake (a dip is irresistible!) and Chunnambar Boat cruise are major tourist attractions with loads of surprises for bird watchers.

  • Botanical Garden:

The Botanical garden with its flower beds, pruned trees, fountains and “rare-to-see” plants from foreign land is truly a feast for the eyes.

  • Manakula Vinayagar Temple:

This temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha is believed be in existence since 1666. Forty different forms of the Elephant Head God are portrayed on the temple walls. The Vinayagar temple attracts large number of devotees each day. Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Kanniga Parameswari Temple, Kamakshi Amman Temple, Navagraha Temple (with 15 ft high Navagrahas) are other prominent temples in Pondicherry.

  • Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Situated at the south of Boulevard, this church was constructed in the 18th century. The events from the life of Lord Jesus are finely portrayed on the strained glass panels of this Church. The Church of our Lady of Angels(known for its masonry work with a central dome bearing 8 circular openings and an oil painting presented by Napoleon), The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Church of the Assumption, The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Church of Our Lady of Good Health and the Church of Capuchins (First Church in Pondicherry) are some of the famous churches of Pondicherry.

  • Kuthbha Mosque:

It is the first mosque in Pondicherry and is believed to be erected in the 17th century. A small pond and well maintained halls are some of its specialties. Regular prayers and preachings are held in this mosque. The Meeran mosque and Dargah of Moulla Saiubum are amongst the renowned mosques of Pondicherry.

The Bharathidasan Museum, Jawahar toy museum, Romain Rolland Library, Raj Niwas (Palace of the Government) and the Anglo-French textile mill are amongst other tourist attractions to visit in Pondicherry, if time permits.

Pondicherry is the perfect vacation get-away that will leave you thoroughly entertained. Free yourself from the clutches of concrete jungle and take a plunge into the serenity of this land. Visit Pondicherry once and see how it lures you for a comeback!

 

HOW TO GET THERE:

  • By Air
NEAREST AIRPORT TRAVEL DISTANCE
Chennai Intenational Airport(MAA) 124 km
Tiruchirappalli Airport (TRZ) 180 km
Tirupati Airport (TIR) 192 km
Bengaluru International Airport (BLR) 275 km

 

  • By Train
TRAIN NAME STARTING STATION AND DEPARTURE TIME ARRIVAL TIME TRAVEL TIME RUNNING DAY
Bhubaneswar Pondicherry Express (12898) Bhubaneswar [12.00 PM] 1:35 PM 25 Hrs 35 Min Tuesday
Howrah Pondicherry Express(12867) Howrah [11.30 PM] 10:00 AM 30 Hrs 30 Min Sunday
Puducherry Express(16044) Mangalore CNTL [4.00 PM] 8.00 AM 16 Hrs Monday
Puducherry Express(12255) Yeshvantpur Junction [11.15 PM] 9.40 AM 10 Hrs 25 Min Friday

 

  • By Road

Roadways are the best means to reach Pondicherry. There are frequent A/C, Non A/C semi sleeper and sleeper bus services to Pondicherry from Chennai, Madurai and Bangalore. There are Express buses that take around 3.5 to 4 hours to reach Pondicherry. If you would like to hire a taxi (A/C or Non A/C) from Chennai it would cost anywhere between 3900 INR to 5000 INR (approx).

 

WHERE TO STAY IN PONDICHERRY:

HOTEL NAME LOCATION **PRICE RANGE PER HEAD (in INR)
Anandham Residency Opposite Raja Theatre 1000-3000
Hotel Ram International Anna Salai 1000-3000
MGR Regency Lawspet 2000-3000
Executive Inn Perumal Kovil Street 2000-4500
Ginger Hotel Saram Revenue Village 3000-5000
Hotel Jayaram Kamraj Salai 3000-4000
Hotel Surguru Sardar Vallabhai Patel Road 3000-4000
Hotel Mass Mariamalai Adigal Salai 4000-5500
Welcome Heritage Calve Vysial Street 5000-8500
Hotel Annamalai International Saram Revenue Village 5000-6000
The Richmond Labourdonnais Street 7000-8500
Sunway GRT Grand Mudalirapet,100 Feet road 7000-8000
Nalla Eco friendly beach resort Kalapet 7000-8000
Hotel Atithi Sardar Vallabhai Patel Road 7000-9000
Kailash Beach Resort Poornakuppam Village 7000-9500
Le Pondy Pudukuppam 10000-12000
Ocean Spray Manjakuppam 11000-14000
The Promenade Goubert Avenue 12000-16000
The Dune Eco Beach Hotel Near Pondicherry University 12000-19000
Le Dupleix Rue De La Caserne 12000-13000

 

BEST EAT OUTS AT PONDICHERRY:

 

RESTAURANT NAME LOCATION
Le Cafe Goubert Avenue
Le Club Dumas Street
Surguru Mission Street
Rendezvous Suffren Street
Satsang Labourdonnais Street
La Terrase Subbiah Street
Hot Breads Ambour Street near Bharathi Park
La Coromandel Goubert Avenue
Blue Dragon Dumas Street
Hotel Aristo Nehru Street near Bharathi Park

 

**Charges are subjected to change throughout the year

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