Hello travelers, hope you are enjoying the ride on #XploreBharat express that has covered 18 destinations until now with the most recent trip to Mysore with Jayanthy. Today it reaches a part of the country that over the years has become a very popular tourist destination, Pondicherry.
Officially called Puducherry and colloquially referred to as Pondy, it’s one of those places which merit repeat visits. Formerly, a French colony, it still preserves a colonial ambiance reflected in its buildings, avenues, churches and housing quarters etc. Pondy is indeed referred to as the French Riviera of the East.
Even though, I have visited Pondy 3 times already (and still counting), each time I saw it through a different lens.
Pondy – Getting to know each other
The first time I went to Pondy was when we visited my husband’s family in Chennai. My husband is a Tamilian and I’m a Punjabi and we were based in Delhi. This was my time exploring South India and getting to know the family better. We were about 15 of us in a hired mini bus. We made a special stop to enjoy degree coffee (south India filter coffee) on the way. A night in Pondicherry, staying in the French quarters overlooking the promenade beach and I fell in love with the place!
We visited the Sri Aurobindo ashram and dined at the lovely little restaurants around there. It was an interesting experience to explore the Tamil quarters for shopping and soaking in the local feel. Auroville was the highlight of the trip. Auroville is a concept developed for people from different communities globally to come together and live in one place as one. It is agnostic to religion and its focal point is Matrimandir, a spherical temple with gold discs. The atmosphere is peaceful and a lot of people spend time meditating and reflecting.
Pondy – falling in love
Over the course of years, we shifted to Chennai from Delhi. Then I played tourist guide when my parents and sister’s family visited and went to Pondy. We spent two nights, one near Auroville and the other in the French quarters. This time, we visited Paradise beach and enjoyed a mesmerizing view and frolicked in the water amid beautiful sea waves. We enjoyed dining on French cuisine and spent our time shopping for knick knacks in the local markets.
Pondy – in a committed relationship
My third visit was a girls trip with my mother and masi (mom’s sister). I was behind the wheel and savored the drive down the picturesque- East Coast Road running parallel to the ocean. We stayed again in the French quarters and spent our evening by the promenade and eating at small special cafes tucked in between the fabulous architecture. The next morning, we went to Serenity beach to see the sunrise and had a great start to our day. We visited the not to be missed, Auroville the next day on our way back to Chennai.
I haven’t planned my next trip but I am sure to return. Until then I will look back on these fond memories and relive those moments. Here is a quick summary for you to if you plan a trip to Pondy.
Travel tips for Pondy –
How to get there – Pondy airport has limited flights from some major Indian cities. The biggest airport close to Pondy is Chennai which is about 3 hours’ drive.
Where to stay – There are 3 main areas you can choose to stay – French quarters, Tamil quarters or close to Auroville, depending on your preference.
Places to visit – The top places to visit are – Promenade beach, Shri Aurobindo ashram, Auroville, Temples & churches & Paradise beach.
What to eat – You can find a wide variety of cuisines from good south Indian food to French influenced local food, great sea food, steaks and wine.
Best time to visit – October to March is considered a good time to visit as the temperatures are more bearable.
Since it is hard to capture the heart and soul of Pondicherry in a single post, I would highly recommend these books that expand upon the essence of this place –
Pondicherry, that was Once French India by Raphaël Malangin & A House in Pondicherry by Lee Langley.
India with its diversity has plenty of places to explore. I am glad I am writing as a part of #XploreBharat blog train and sharing my wonderful travel experiences with you. The vastness of India with its mountains, beaches, lakes and oceans is immense. Having stayed most of my life in the northern part of India, South India was very new for me and I am glad I got this opportunity to explore the treasures of the South. East India will be my next new landscape to cover!
Hope this destination leaves you with a desire to visit Pondy for a relaxing holiday. If you already have visited Pondy, please share your experience with me in commnets below. Look out for my next post on Chennai as a part of #Xplorebharat with #BlogBoosterIndia blog train.
Tomorrow the express will leave for it’s next destination as Anshu takes you on a tour to another beautiful treasure, Coorg. So till then enjoy the beaches and soak in the beauty of Pondicherry.
Pictures are all author’s personal clicked by her or family members.