Winter Calling: The Best Time to Visit Pondicherry
Not many people are aware of just how serene and pretty, and teeming with history, Pondicherry is Colloquially known as ‘Puducherry’
Not many people are aware of just how serene and pretty, and teeming with history, Pondicherry is. Colloquially known as ‘Puducherry’, it is a union territory that was earlier ruled variously by Dutch, French and British masters. However, it shows huge French influences and there is even a well-preserved French quarter here which is most visited by tourists. Other communities here include Muslims (in the Green Quarter) and Tamilians (in the Brown Quarter).
If you have not visited Pondicherry yet, make the trip this year. This article outlines why you should visit it, the best time to visit Pondicherry, and where to stay in the city.
There are many great reasons to visit Pondicherry, whether you are on a small trip or a long one. In fact, you can make a pit stop here if you are travelling elsewhere in Tamil Nadu. Here are our top reasons for giving this little city a visit this year, either on a romantic mini break or :
* It Is Rich With Culture and History: As mentioned above, Pondicherry has a French Quarter, apart from a Brown Quarter and a Green Quarter. The French Quarter is known as the White Quarter, because it had a huge French population at one point in time. Several French people still live here, though the demographic is a mixed one today. All three quarters are interesting in their own way, and representative of their cultures. A visit through each will teach you a lot about the local history and cultures here. Also don’t miss the signs in French and Tamil, but you can get by with English because everybody speaks the language here.
* The City Is Spotlessly Clean: You will never find litter anywhere in Pondicherry. The local authorities take care to empty the trash bins and also sweep the roads every morning. You are advised to maintain the high standards of hygiene when you visit – take care to use the large bins for wet and dry waste provided at every street corner. There are hefty fines to pay for littering, so be careful about maintaining cleanliness.
* It Is Full of Beautiful Temples and Churches: You will love the places of worship in Pondicherry. The best places to visit in Pondicherry are the Sacred Heart Basilica and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral (both are over 300 years old), while the best temples are the Gokilambal Thirukameswar Temple and the Manakula Vinayagar Temples. These temples have awesome exteriors adorned with sculptures and paintings from a bygone era.
* The food is amazing: The French Quarter has the most amazing restaurants in Pondicherry. You can get a variety of cuisines as well as many preparations in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. You will also find excellent street side stalls in the Green Quarter, selling kebabs, gosht and biryanis. The food on offer is spellbinding, to say the least. However, the upscale restaurants in the French Quarter are quite expensive in tourist season.
Pondicherry is an all-year long tourist destination. Come rain or hailstorm, you can easily get around the city because there is never any flooding incident. The weather remains relatively constant all year, and the seasons are predictable. In fact, a few factors barred, you may visit at any time with a few basic precautions.
* Visiting Pondicherry in the summer: The summer time temperatures in Pondicherry can shoot right up to 40⁰C in May. Like the rest of Tamil Nadu, the summer season is quite intense here as well. However, if you are used to the strong sunlight and high heat where you come from, then this should hardly matter. Most people stay away from Pondicherry during this time, fearing heatstroke and other problems. But if you like less crowds and more space to explore the tourist points, then the summer is the best time to visit Pondicherry. You can hire a scooter or car and move around in comfort.
* Visiting Pondicherry in the monsoon: The monsoon season is simply beautiful in Pondicherry. While most people are loath to step out in the rain, you should just wear good rain footwear and walk about in Pondicherry during this time. Since the roads here are in good condition and most of the city is quite modern, you will not face any problems moving about. Barring a few puddles, you will not have to navigate slushy roads or landslides. However, the monsoon season is quite heavy and there may be prolonged spells of heavy rain in July and August. Instead of going around on bikes, it is better to ask your resort to get you a car for sightseeing. But this minor niggle aside, you will be thrilled at how green and beautiful the place becomes. This is the best time to visit Pondicherry if you love the romance of the rain, especially if you are visiting the city for your honeymoon.
* Visiting Pondicherry in the winter: Winters in Pondicherry are as intense as the summer, but of course, the sunlight conditions are not as troubling. This along makes it the best time to visit Pondicherry. The months between November and February qualify as the winter months and are quite cold, but there is never any extreme weather event like hailstorms or snow. If you bundle up warmly and go about in a car instead of on a bike or cycle, you will find that this is the best time to visit Pondicherry. Or just take a brisk walk in the morning to warm up your body, and you are good to enjoy the day with ease.
There are a number of ways to reach Pondicherry. Most people prefer to take a flight to Chennai and then drive down to Pondicherry from there, via the East Coast Road. The drive is one of the most famous routes in India, simply because it is hauntingly beautiful. However, it spans about 4 hours with little scope for stops in between.
Most people are unaware that Pondicherry has its own airport as well. It is known as Puducherry Airport. However, there are no direct flights from most places – you can get a connecting flight via Bengaluru or Chennai, to Puducherry Airport. It is a small airstrip that was previously used only for the Armed Forces. For the last few years, it has been opened for commercial operations. However, there are only about two daily flights arriving and departing from here. Do plan your arrival and departure carefully, because the flight frequency is too low to allow for delays and last minute cancellations.
Now that you are aware of the best time to visit Pondicherry and how to get there, it is time to make a list of the places to see when you visit. Try these:
* Auroville: Auroville was set up by people who believe in the teachings of Guru Aurobindo, as well as a new way of life separate from caste, creed and nationality. People from all over the world who believe in a united spirit of kinship and harmony, have built this place and named it the ‘City of Dawn’. The entire place exudes peace and unity, and houses the famous Matrimandir Meditation Centre, the Main Road Market selling locally made soaps, perfumes, trinkets and clothing, delicious organic food at the Auroville Bakery, and the Auroville Botanical Gardens.
* Ousteri Lake: This is a man-made freshwater lake, home to a series of exotic migratory and Indian birds. It is a popular picnic spot, and the best time to visit this Pondicherry gem is during the evening hours for the most gorgeous sunset. You can see open billed storks, water hens, egrets, golden orioles and white ibises here, apart from Indian kingfishers and woodland pigeons.
* Promenade Beach: This is probably the only beachfront in India that closes down the main road from 6 pm to midnight every single day so that pedestrians may move about freely without the fear of accidents. The 1.2 km stretch of beach and sand is a pleasing prospect in the monsoon and winter seasons, and you will love looking at the sea, or sitting on the rocks, or just strolling past the shops and restaurants at the far end of the promenade.
* Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Located near MG Road and close to the Pondicherry Railway Station, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a grand edifice that is as inviting on the outside as it is spectacular on the inside. The building is modelled on the Gothic architecture style, and has a separate adoration chapel. The mass is held in French, but all faiths are invited to attend the service.
* Old Lighthouse: One of the prominent landmarks in the town, visiting this lighthouse is one of the best things to do in Pondicherry. It was built in the 19th century when this town was still a French province. The historic lighthouse was the only source of light on this part of the coast, for ships travelling from here across the Red Hills. You will love its solid engineering and the views it offers.
* French War Memorial: This is a major historical landmark for the city, and the best time to visit Pondicherry’s landmark memorial is during the early morning as the sun rises. The majestic memorial was built as a sign of respect for the French soldiers that perished in the World War I. It is located at Goubert Avenue, and is decorated with lamps and lights on July 14 every year to honour the French Bastille Day.
Staying at the best Pondicherry resort will ensure that your holiday is well-rounded and as special as you can make it. We recommend the Club Mahindra Puducherry Resort in Tamil Nadu. It is an exclusive property that bears all the hallmarks of Club Mahindra excellence: a central location just outside town, a lavish 24 acres of land to explore, well-appointed rooms, delicious food in the restaurant, a spa, pool, fitness centre, children’s activity space, and tranquillity for your soul! If you’re vacationing in Pondicherry, you really shouldn’t be staying anywhere else. Book your holiday at Club Mahindra for a fabulous experience.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Resort Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra is the flagship brand offering Club Mahindra Membership, the other brands offered by the company are – Club Mahindra Resorts Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com