I distinctly remember my trip to Pondicherry! What a place to be! It's one of those places where you wouldn't mind getting lost as every nook and cranny of that place has an interesting story to tell.
Pondicherry was the largest French colony in India. The city has a long and interesting history of trade and war. There is a strong French influence in the city, especially in the old quarters, with Rues and Boulevards lined with Mediterranean style houses and bakeries, although the city remains very much Indian.
French is still understood, and the whole city makes for rather pleasant mix of East and West. It is also known as The French Riviera of the East (La Côte d'Azur de l'Est). If you've spent some time in Tamil Nadu and approached Pondicherry by land, then you my friend are in for a treat when you discover the French architecture and restaurants serving steak and good wine. Pondicherry is very much a city with a dual personality: crossing from East to West of the central canal reveals two cities with very different characters.
Well I guess that much of info is enough for the curious mind interested in history. To be honest I hadn’t bothered to dwell into the places history till I found myself there, though in retrospect it does seem like a good idea.
We had set on our Pondi trip via a night bus that run very frequent from the Bangalore route as the distance between the two places is roughly 320 kms. The route is safe enough for single or dual female travelers. And to be honest nothing beats the rush of nighttime travel especially during the washroom breaks were you are under the perpetual fear of the bus leaving you behind while you are busy attending natures call.
We reached Pondi in the brink of early morning and What a beauty is Pondi during that time of the day. Lush greens everywhere embodying every inch of the small town charm, that didn’t let us a single moment to spend in our cottage and we found ourselves taking to the streets that very day.
The best way to explore Pondi is doing it on your own via rented bikes/cars and considering the exorbitant rates the Autos quote, this actually is your best bet to get your way around. Make sure you are carrying your driving license with you and you are good to go.
We hired a bike for Rs. 250 which honestly is a good deal considering the extent we used to travel in a single day. Don’t believe us? Well here is a consolidated list of places we would frequent during the course of the day-
The Beach / Promenade
The French Quarter
Barathi Park / Government Park
Churches - particularly Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus opposite Railway Station
Botanical garden -
Chunnambar Boat House
Paradise Beach - accessible from Chunnambar Boat House on motor boat 150/- per person
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Auroville International city
Of all the places mentioned above, we found ourselves spending most of our time in Auroville and Auro Beach.
And trust me when I say this that the route to Auroville from the main city has places where you would willingly want to lose yourself-
And that was our breakfast staple, every single day
Trust me on this when I say that Auroville has some of the best supplies of baked goods ever
Need more reasons to pack your bags for Pondi?