Pondicherry : The Global City
January 1, 1970
Fondly referred to as Pondy, Puducherry/Pondicherry is one of the seven Union Territories of India. The quaint town boasts of pristine beaches, iconic mustard colored French bungalows, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, international city -Auroville and numerous gastronomical delights.
You will definitely master the art of doing nothing in this place. Lazy strolls and chilling at cafes are a way of life here. You may be lazy but the town offers every flavor to the all kinds of travelers. You can choose to explore your spiritual side at the Ashram or give yourself an adrenaline rush with scuba diving classes or café – hop your way around or simply be a beach bum. Pondy can never disappoint you and once you have soaked in the pulse of the place it’s difficult to get back to the grind.
Pondicherry is a Franco-Tamil experience and here are ten major points on why you should pack your bags now.
A stroll through French Quarter
The town is divided into two sections: the French Quarter (Ville Blanche or ‘White town’) and the Indian quarter (Ville Noire or ‘Black Town’). Just behind the seafront is the quaint French quarter dotted with white-and mustard buildings. It is best explored on foot and a definite way to rouse the romantic in you. You will come across many chic hotels and bars in the revamped colonial buildings.
The French town has experienced a lot of restoration in recent years and yet held on to the old world charm. You feel it when you amble though the lanes: the cheery bougainvillea, a shady park and the leafy boulevard.
It seems like the whole town is ready for an instant photo shoot.
Passeggiata at The Promenade
The long stretch of rocky beach that runs along the Goubert Avenue overlooking the Bay of Bengal will tempt you for a lazy stroll. As you keep walking you will cross the Gandhi statue, French war memorial and the old lighthouse. Take a break and choose a rock to perch yourself on it and gaze at the wild sea.
Promenade comes to life in the evening. You will observe people from all walks of life enjoying the evening breeze. If people watching is your thing you’ve hit the jackpot! Try to watch the sunrise from Le Café while sipping on that much needed lemonade. The numerous food stalls in the evening will keep you full so it is the ideal place to laze around.
Auroville (The city of Dawn)
Auroville is not a touristy destination, it is the way of life and can be experienced on a deeper spiritual level. If you only have a day in hand it can be baffling to understand the purpose of the universal town. You can visit the visitor’s centre and attend the video sessions for more information and proceed to view the Matrimandir.
A pleasant 15 mins walk to the Matrimandir view point presents us with the majestic golden globe which is meant for individual silent concentration. You can avail advance bookings to view and experience the inner chambers of Matrimandir. You can choose to volunteer here as well.
If all the walking makes you hungry rush to Bussy street for the upmarket French-style bakery. It has a cozy décor and offers numerous delectable choices. The wide display of cakes, cheese baguettes, pastries, éclairs, quiches, biscuits and burgers would leave you wanting more. You can either eat in or take away.
Café Des Arts
The quirky vintage-style café offers you a refreshing twist. It offers an art library with lounge music and free Wi-Fi. There is a boutique adjoining the cafe and the seating arrangement is in both inside and out. The usage of colonial furniture adds to the charm. Look out for the art work on the walls.
Once you stop checking out the quirky secrets of the place try the refreshing French snacks and fresh juices. A special mention to the fresh and fluffy crepes. An ideal place for a delicious brunch.
You can’t call it a vacation if there is not a bit alcohol involved. Pondicherry will not disappoint you; from the spirit shops to the quaint and bohemian styled bars all offer you reasonably priced alcohol. While there are many places to indulge I can recommend the following for those tipsy evenings.
Le Space for extremely potent cocktails and that bohemian experience. It is almost always packed, so try and visit early to grab a seat and enjoy a laid back evening.
Rendezvous for seafood and chilled beer. A town which is best explored on foot will surely leave you thirsty. No better way to cure than to sip on that chilled beer and munching on the delicious seafood.
Satsanga for the highly praised French and continental cuisine along with some really economical drinks.
Le Club just for the varied options provided by the bartender. Always ask them for the best choices and they will not disappoint you.
Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges
Also called as the Church of Our Lady of Angels is must visit for its awe-inspiring architectural features. Built in 1885, this church has a painting gifted by Napoleon. The stained glass, the intricate work on the roof and the interesting mix of colours makes it worth a visit.
The name actually describes the beach. It is a non-touristy one with no stalls or restaurants nearby to lure you. Few fishing boats are visible and the beach is usually sparsely crowded. The soothing sea breeze and the inviting waves should be reason enough to visit the place.
A small Italian joint in the Heritage town of Pondicherry. This a quaint place run by an Italian couple and we recommend just about everything on the menu. Riccardo and Elena are excellent hosts and they serve authentic Italian cuisine. A must visit for all pasta lovers.
A Beach picnic at Paradise beach
A paid ferry through the backwaters will bring you to this pristine beach. It is not crowded and has few stalls which offer beer and few snacks. Ideal place to play with the waves and enjoy uninterrupted sea breeze. Carry your own picnic basket for a lazy and fun filled afternoon.
I can go on with more reasons and this can be a never ending article but Pondicherry doesn’t need any convincing; It Just Is.