The Best Time to Visit Pondicherry, And Other Things You Need To Know
A Union Territory and a breathtakingly beautiful city, Pondicherry (or Puducherry) is well worth a visit with your partner and/or your children.
A Union Territory and a breathtakingly beautiful city, Pondicherry (or Puducherry) is well worth a visit with your partner and/or your children. The serene town is located in the Puducherry district on the Southeast Coast of India. It has Tamil Nadu on one side, and is heavily influenced by that State’s culture and traditions. In fact, more than half the population of Pondicherry speaks Tamil fluently.
Puducherry’s earliest history is recorded from the time Dutch, British, Portuguese and French colonialists. However, the French colonialists were the last ones here, and they have left an enduring mark on the place till date. Till the turn of the last century, there were several French residents still living here, and many still do. This is why the town speaks both French and Tamil, and has signboards in both these languages.
There are many great reasons, and no wrong reasons, to visit Pondicherry. Here are our top reasons for giving this little town a go this year:
* It is teeming with culture: Pondicherry has a large 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. The Brown Quarter houses a large population of Tamilians, while the Green Quarter has a dominant Muslim population. 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.
* There are beautiful temples and churches: You will love the places of worship in Pondicherry. The best places to visit are the Sacred Heart Basilica and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral (both are over 300 years old), while the best temples are the historic Gokilambal Thirukameswar Temple and the Manakula Vinayagar Temples. These temples have pretty exteriors adorned with sculptures and paintings.
* 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.
* 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 – it’s what makes this city so special!
Pondicherry is an all-year long tourist destination. The weather remains relatively constant, and the seasons are predictable. In fact, a few factors barred, you may visit at any time.
* Summer: The summer time temperatures in Pondicherry can shoot right up to 40⁰C in May. 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.
* Monsoon: The monsoon season is simply beautiful in Pondicherry. Since the roads here are in good condition and most of the city is quite modern, you will not face any problems moving about. 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 hire you a car. 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.
* Winter: Winters in Pondicherry are as intense as the summer, but they are quite pleasing. The months between November and February 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.
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 a beautiful one, spanning about 4 hours. However, most people are unaware that Pondicherry has its own airport as well. 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.
You can even drive down to Pondicherry, arriving via Chennai, or take a bus.
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. Here are our recommendations:
* Auroville: It is one of the most intriguing social and cultural experiments in India. Auroville was set up by people who believe in the teachings of 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. This enables pedestrians to move about freely without fear of being accosted by a passing motorist. 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. This beach is also known as Gandhi Beach or Rock Beach.
* 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, and old faiths are invited to come in and attend the service, or just take a look around.
* Paradise Beach: Located on the Cuddalore Road, Paradise Beach is popular among both locals and tourists. You can take a ferry from Chunnambar to this beach, and fall in love with its azure water, soft and white sand, and the hushed silence everywhere. There are shacks that you can rest at with your partner, a drink and plate of snacks in tow, and showers and changing rooms if you want to take a dip in the ocean.
* Old Lighthouse: One of the prominent landmarks in the town, visiting this lighthouse is one of the 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 Bastille Day.
Where To Stay In Pondicherry
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.
Q: How many days are enough for Pondicherry?
About four to five days are enough for Pondicherry. Be sure to include all the important tourist spots in your itinerary, leaving enough time to explore the markets and restaurants as well.
Q: Which is the best area to stay in Pondicherry?
The best area to stay in Pondicherry is the French Quarter, or the White Town. However, you can also check out the Club Mahindra Puducherry Resort located outside town.
Q: Is August good to visit Pondicherry?
August is in the middle of the monsoon season here. Though the area receives heavy rainfall, it is still possible to walk about or ride a scooter. Be sure to carry your rain gear and water repelling boots.
Q: Is Pondicherry safe at night?
Pondicherry is completely safe at night. You might not find too many people about on the roads post 10.30 pm, but you will never feel like you are being watched or that something untoward is going to happen. However, exercise due caution since you are unfamiliar with the place, and return to your resort in a rented car or your bike.
Q: Which is the best month to visit Pondicherry?
The best month to visit Pondicherry is June, before the monsoon season begins in earnest. Or October or November, before the winter chill sets in.
About Mahindra Holidays
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 Membership 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