January 14, 2020
Puducherry which literally translates to ‘New Town’ in Tamil was formerly known as Pondicherry (French: Pondichéry). It is a quaint and populous union territory located in the south of the Indian Peninsula. This union territory travelling of the four coastal regions of Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe, and Yanam. While the regions of Pondicherry and Karaikal are on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, Yanam is situated in Andhra Pradesh, and Mahe is on the west coast of Kerala. The capital of this union territory is the city of Pondicherry. It is located on the east coast, about 162 km. to the south of Chennai (Madras), on the Coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal. Surprisingly for a popular tourist location, there are no hills or forests in this region. The main types of soils found here are red ferralitic, black clay, and coastal alluvial.
Despite being the third most densely populated among the Indian states and union territories, Pondicherry continues to remain an attractive destination. French colonial history, white and gold beaches, backwaters, lakes, heritage buildings, colour-kissed streets, museums and ashrams combined with eating & shopping joints serve every mood of every traveller.
Pondicherry is best accessible by road from Chennai, Bangalore and even Kerala. Chennai has an international airport and is easily reachable via the national highway from Pondicherry, and offers good transit hotels in the vicinity for travellers arriving late at night.
Pondicherry has a wide range of hotels to choose from: beach resorts for tourists and families, heritage hotels for those who want to experience something out of the ordinary, high-end commercial hotels for corporate visitors and neat Ashram Guest Houses for spiritual seekers. Restaurants serve a rich variety of French, Indian, Asian and continental food and there is no short supply of international fast-food chains.
The primary spoken language is Tamil, though Telugu, Malayalam, English, and French are spoken by a considerable number of people. It is estimated that the majority of the population is Hindu. However, it cannot be denied that there are quite many Christians and Muslims as well. Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists are comparatively less. Pondicherry, as many people have expressed, has a distinct spiritual pulsation to it. Stories of resident sages and their peace-loving practices and rituals have always been a treasured interest to the fast-moving world.
Historically, Pondicherry’s trade practices were traditional doll-making, textiles, and silks. However, the region is also the birthplace of several world-class brands in leather, pottery, aromatics, fashion and handmade paper. Recently, the region has seen a rapid growth in the establishment of exquisite decor boutiques and export-quality antique furniture galleries.
Pondicherry has a unique vibe. It would not be untrue to say that no other site in India promises an unconventional vibe like Pondicherry. It is a blend of spirituality and modernism, together with a charming cosmopolitan flair. This feeling and atmosphere is freely experienced anywhere in the city owing to the mix of varied nationalities residing in such a small town. This free-spirited vibe is much inherently felt when you visit the oldest part of the town which flanks the seashore boulevard.
The magnificent churches, structural temples, the Islamic architecture of mosques, colonial buildings, some of which date back to the 18th century are an unmissable site in Pondicherry. They stretch along a grid of clean straight streets which houses French institutions, hotels, guest houses, restaurants, boutiques and private homes, including the sprawling premises of the famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Visitors to this area are greeted by soft hues of cream, yellow, pink and grey compound walls interspersed by flamboyant Bougainvillea beaming from atop of gates and fences of courtyards.
A 'pondy trip' is a bucket list experience. It is suitable for all kinds of people. Something is always exciting for the young and old, introverts and extroverts, adventurous and cautious.
Also Read: Pondicherry Travel Guide – Know What Is Best
1. Immaculate Conception Cathedral
3. Aayi Mandapam
4. Mesmerising Beaches of Pondicherry
5. Shri Aurobindo Ghosh Ashram
7. Paradise Beach
8. Gingee Fort
9. French Quarter
10. Promenade Beach
11. Chunnambar Boat House
12. Serenity Beach
13. Goubert Avenue
14. Old Lighthouse
15. Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
16. Jawahar Toy Museum
17. Le Club
18. White Town
19. Sita Cultural Centre
20. Indulge in a Variety of Creative Classes
21. Raj Niwas and Places in and Around the Area
22. Pondy Bazaar
23. French War Memorial
24. Ousteri Lake
26. Green Quarter
28. Botanical Gardens
29. Alamparai Fort
30. Cluny Embroidery Centre
Constructed in 1791, the cathedral holds its rightful place in the centre of the town's four boulevards. It stands tall overlooking the Bay of Bengal on its west. The Immaculate Conception Church, also called the ‘Samba Kovil’, has a 300-year long history. From 1728 to 1736 a beautiful church was built on the very site that the present cathedral stands today. The church was razed to the ground by the British in 1761. In 1765, a functional and irregularly shaped shed was put together. Since the year 1770, the mission was earnest in building the present cathedral on the foundations of the 3rd Church. The mission took the Church of Val De Grace (now chapel of the famous military hospital) in Paris as its inspiration. Though the general plan was to create a XVIII century French church, the facade kept the classical Portuguese ordinary style intact. The church was consecrated by Bishop Champenois on 20th June 1791.
Nicknamed as an ‘architectural wonder,' the magnificent white church looks meek from the outside. You can only see a lovely statue of Virgin Mary right outside the church, but it is said that the interiors are something you must not miss out. It is worthy to note that this church was visited by Mother Teresa when she visited Pondicherry. It is one of the places to visit in Pondicherry to learn about something new and also witness some brilliant architecture.
Arikamedu, an ancient Roman trade centre is located 4 km. to the south of Pondicherry on the right bank of the Ariyankuppam River. It has a long history that dates back to the second century B.C. This port town was inhabited by Romans, Cholas and French who left their influences on this beautiful place. The Roman treasure trail and Arikamedu river cruise are an unforgettable experience for history buffs.
It was a fishing colony was used as a port for trading with the Romans and the Greco-Romans. Evidenced by an ancient Chola coin dating back to 1 B.C. suggests the involvement of Cholas in various port-related activities. Later the site was divided into two sectors, the northern and southern, as they were perceived to have been inhabited by different ethnic groups. The region is also known as 'Yavanas' in Tamil literature.
Except for the perpendicular walls and mission houses seen today, there is not much to be seen superficially. But, Arikamedu is not a place for viewing pleasure; it is about letting the history of the place consume you. Coconut and Mango trees centre in abundance here. The plantations will take your breath away. It is one of the places to see in Pondicherry should be seen to be believed!
One of the places to visit in Pondicherry is Aayi Mandapam. It is an unexplored, somewhat under-appreciated attraction in Pondicherry tourism. But, let us help you decide for yourself. This Greco-Roman styled monument, situated in Bharathi Park, is associated with interesting folklore. As Pondicherry history books go, during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar Empire, there lived a prostitute who went by the name of Aayi. This lady demolished her own house to construct a water tank that would solve the water crisis of the town. The king recognised this sacrifice of Aayi and rewarded her. Later on, a water channel was built from here to Pondicherry town. In the 16th century, the emperor of France, Napoleon III built the Aayi Mandapam (or La Place du Panthéon) to honour the noble deeds of a commonplace woman. This monument was designed by famous French architect, Monsieur Lamairesse. Surrounding this monument is a line of shops for Indo-western outfits, candles, essences and incense sticks. Isn’t the story of this place intriguing?
Even if you can't visit any of the places mentioned above, make time to immerse yourself in the beauty of the 5 breathtaking beaches of Pondicherry. The Auroville, Paradise, Promenade, Serenity and Veerampattinam.
Each of these beaches is unlike another. One is lined by an array of palm and coconut trees, another with rocky gravels against a mystic cream sea bursting under it. The one on the lowest and farthest point of Pondicherry is an entirely isolated beach with a very long shoreline. It gives you an unmistakable feeling of humility and awe, as the one sound you would hear is of the buzzing waves and the one view you will have is the glistening horizon.
This is one of the favourite spots for vacationers in Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is the place where individuals come to look for peace, quiet and solitude. It once was an abstract network known for being the home of the profound master, Sri Aurobindo.
For the first half of the 20th century, Aurobindo remained here along with couple of followers and Mirra Alfassa, the mother of the ashram and other colleagues. When he pulled back from global visibility, all the duties of the spot was given over to the Sadhaks, his followers. The ashram is additionally in charge of establishing the idea of tranquil concurrence in a township. Auroville, the town in Pondicherry is the immediate result of the standards and points of this ashram.
The ashram can be visited from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the evening. This spot is well known for following the idea of central yoga. It additionally pursues the existential principle of living, wherein individuals are persuaded to understand the significance of their lives and achieve moksha.
It is definitely one of the top places to visit in Pondicherry to experience serenity and peace.
Considered to be the 'all-inclusive town,' the Auroville Ashram is an exploratory township. The idea was to make a city where individuals from over the world come and live in harmony and where everything is equal. Established in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo and his supporter, a French lady who was known as 'Maa' or 'The Mother,' the Aurobindo Ashram is where you can unwind and find your inner being.
A major point of attraction here is the 'Matrimandir'. This is a golden dome which emerges out of land and denotes the birth of consciousness. Here you can watch the sunrise, find your inner self in a calm and serene atmosphere. The nearby gardens have a stream and the sound of the water and gentle breeze gives it an ideal air for reflection. The mandir is a magnum opus with a 30 m. high globe and a lotus-moulded establishment urn. The passage is free of expenses, and you can purchase the tickets face-to-face at the setting, not on the internet. A stroll from the passage doors to the middle takes around 10-12 minutes.
The best way to experience Auroville ashram is to sit in one of the bistros and converse with the people about their experience of living in the city. You would be amazed to discover how much the general population living here adore the idea and the life.
Paradise Beach, otherwise called Plage Paradiso, is situated in Chunnambar, near Pondicherry town. Adorned with the brilliant golden sand, this celebrated and exceedingly well-kept shoreline continually draws in the cool ocean breeze. This is a little-secluded shoreline and to reach here you need to take a ship over the backwaters, which takes around 20-30 minutes. The sand of the Paradise shoreline is exceptionally delicate and grainy and it is one of the top places to visit in Pondicherry. It’s an enjoyable experience for both adults and children.
One of the best sights to catch here is the view of the entire shoreline from a boat. While in transit, you will see the green and thick backwaters laden with mangroves and the shimmering and buzzing coastline. Particularly after the storms, the backwaters are lush and green. You can view a lot of birds while on this ride. It’s like heaven for photography lovers who have the chance to get some incredible clicks here.
The waves of this beach can be rough and hence it is advised not to dive deep in the water. There are a couple of shacks along the shoreline where you can get fresh coconut water and some snacks to munch on. However, do not expect fancy meals, the food here is simple yet delicious.
Paradise Beach is an excellent spot to catch the sun rising over the horizon and get a perspective of dawn on the eastern coast. You can spend hours sitting on the coastline and appreciating the waves and views. An assortment of water sports is available here too. Adventure enthusiasts can attempt angling as angling poles and nets are available for lease here.
Known as the 'Troy of the East' by the British, the Gingee Fort is situated in Villupuram District of Tamil Nadu, 160 km. from the state capital, Chennai, and close to the union territory of Pondicherry. Local people have given the fort some prominent names, like Senji, Chenji, Jinji or Senchi fort. The lofty fortification has three different peak fortresses, thick dividers and precipices. Attributable to its large structure, the fort was named as the 'most invulnerable fortification in India' by Shivaji, the Maratha ruler. When you visit the fortress, you will become familiar with the explanation behind why such influential names have called it so. As you walk through this immense structure, you understand why it’s situated in such a vital area and hence, made it troublesome for adversaries to enter. It’s one of the top places to visit in Pondicherry which will leave you in awe!
Developed for the most part in the sixteenth century by the Vijayanagara Empire, the Marathas later occupied the fort following the Mughals, French and British. The stronghold was then tragically relinquished in the nineteenth century. Today, Gingee prominently features in a variety of movies.
Out of the three strongholds, the least challenging to reach is Krishnagiri which ascends on the north side of the street. Towards the west is the most noteworthy of the three, Rajagiri, and the most far off and is Chakklidurg which lies in the south-east.
All in all, the Gingee Fort and its magnificent structure exude a tranquil setting for families to enjoy.
The French may have left, but they sure left behind a stunning reminder of their presence. The French Quarter is one of the places to visit in Pondicherry that is best explored by foot or if you rent a bicycle, by cycling around the area. This will give you the freedom to stop and admire the bright buildings and even take some Instagram worthy pictures.
The architecture of this area is heavily influenced by the French, and you might also find some people speaking French flawlessly. The yellow buildings are the trademarks of the French Quarter. During the time the French colonised the area, their culture heavily influenced the way Pondicherry’s people lived, ate and spoke. Even today, there are cafes here that serve French cuisine, have French menus and you will find quaint street names from the time the French were here. Apart from the yellow buildings, the French villas are stunning and will give you a lot of home décor goals. Quite a few of these old school villas have been converted into home-stays and guest houses, so staying in the French quarter is a great idea as well. It puts you right in the centre of Pondicherry, with access to the entire town by foot. Stop by for some French pastries at the cafes and keep your eyes open for gorgeous street art.
If you are a foodie, we highly recommend that you try some of the more famous restaurants in this particular area. Rue Romain Rolland especially has a smattering of beautiful restaurants serving delectable French cuisine.
Promenade Beach is beachfront that stretches out for 1.2 km. from War Memorial to the Dupleix Park on the Goubert Ave., in the city of Pondicherry. The shoreline is regularly packed with individuals playing volleyball, running, strolling, skating, doing yoga and swimming, particularly during the evenings.
The Promenade shoreline is a wonderland for vacationers because of its proximity to huge milestones that are adjacent to it such as the War Memorial, the statue of Joan of Arc, the legacy Town Hall, old beacon, the figure of Mahatma Gandhi, the remaining parts of the old dock, Dupleix Statue and the ancient traditions house.
All along the beach and around the area, you can find popular eateries here that serve delicious seafood, making it a go-to spot for tourists. Also, you can also spot street hawkers selling unique items that can be found only in this city. The Tourist Information Centre in the area is a good spot to visit if you are lost or looking for something in particular. All these factors make the Pondicherry Beach a massive hit among the explorers searching for a break from tedious city lives.
The Chunnambar Boat House is another well-known vacation spot close to Pondicherry. This place is also called ‘Plage Paradiso’ and is well-known for the backwaters and is a spot where you can go boating. From here, via boat, you can reach the famous white sand shoreline of Paradise Beach. It is an extraordinary scenic spot which is perfect for unwinding, relaxing and enjoying a family day out.
It is one of the places to visit in Pondicherry and the ideal spot to soak up the sun or enjoy water sports like boating. This short journey on a boat gives tourists a perspective of peacefulness of the water and its surroundings. Individuals from around the globe come and visit the spot for its tranquillity and harmony and serenity that it offers. It offers a getaway from the quick paced life you lead daily. This spot is encompassed by greenery from all sides and offers a stunning perspective. There are stores and places close-by that provide rooms for changing and offer water and nourishment to visitors.
A front-runner among the most perfect and stunning shorelines in entire Pondicherry, Serenity Beach is one of the vacation spots in the city that you can't miss. Lined with unsullied and unblemished golden sands and lapped by sparkling waters of the Bay of Bengal, this treasure trove of nature is isolated, quiet and breathtaking.
Visit this spot to feel relaxed and experience serenity at its best. The beach is lined with palm trees which makes it one of the best places to visit in Pondicherry that is perfect for families that enjoy soaking up the sun and clicking a few family photos.
In contrast to different shorelines in the country, this one isn't full and swarming with people or hawkers. An untainted blessing of nature, Serenity Beach provides the right atmosphere to click unforgettable memories you can take back home.
This is a notable street in Pondicherry known for the significance it has held amidst vacationers. Brimming with a wide range of eateries and resorts, it is on our list of places to visit in Pondicherry frequented by tourists and families alike. Additionally, Goubert Road is in close proximity to the shoreline which adds to the delightful atmosphere.
Goubert Market is one of Pondicherry's commercial centres, situated at the edge of the French Quarter on Vellala Street. This market has a few fish, vegetable, products stores as well. When shopping for fish, you will discover around 25-30 varieties that the hawkers keep a close eye on. In the market's main area, everything from woven bushels to calfskin products, footwear, gems and pieces of clothing are sold.
It’s a good outing for the family and a chance to stroll through the bustling market and maybe even shop for some unique products.
The Lighthouse is one of the many fantastic milestones in Pondicherry. The French Riviera of the East, Pondy has two beacons, an old one and the enhanced one. While the old one has been shut for open appearance, the newer one fills in as the spot for giving its guests the most astonishing 10,000 foot perspective on the city.
In the 19th century, the main milestone for the sailors touching base in Pondicherry /Pondicherry was the Red Hills, 3 km towards the west of town. To offer the guests sailing from the sea with a truly wonderful site, the French wanted to construct a beacon. Following this, in March 1836 the old lighthouse was raised under the direction of L. Guerre. The 157 ft. high pinnacle is a host to a few social occasions, music fests, and business exercises. With the progression in years, the distinction between the two as far as engineering is very noticeable.
Paving its way to the age-old history of basilicas and Christianity, the 'Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus' is among the most beautiful churches in the Pondicherry. It is known for its Gothic architecture and minimalist fineness of glass-work all over the church. Facing the most prominent beach-side, Rock beach, the church is situated in a prime location attracting tourist attention. Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an artwork and a place of solace and serenity. It is predominantly among the most famous churches of Pondicherry and also happens to be also the first church in the town serving another purpose - the altar of the church goes higher along with your sight and possesses neo-gothic architecture, constructed with great thought, forming a cross high above at the dome with colourful and vibrant glass-work all over it. A place of pilgrimage for the Christians, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is quite massive and can accommodate around 150 people in one service.
As soon as you enter the church, the terracotta patterns will leave you awestruck with amazement. The light rays which pass through the coloured windows light up the church, and this instantly captivates the attention of the people. Occasions like Christmas, New Years, Easter, etc. are celebrated in a grand way. At this time, crowds reach out to the statue of Jesus with candles and food. It is a remarkable place to see in Pondicherry if you ever visit.
Do you miss your childhood and the reminiscences of it? If yes, Jawahar Toy Museum is the ideal place. It is a well-maintained museum that presents an amalgamation of culture, youth, and simplicity. Museums always sound boring or overloaded with information, like a serious place for people to ponder over the historical significance of artefacts. But who thought museums could be fun too? The Jawahar Toy Museum is an apt place to visit in Pondicherry, especially for families. Over 140 dolls beautifully dressed according to varied themes, cultural importance and ideas will steal your heart. The dolls are collected from all over the country.
The museum is the confluence of many traditions and cultures and is one of the significant places to visit in Pondicherry. It is situated near the old lighthouse building near Gandhi Maidan. This delightful spot has vibrant colours, diverse culture and geographical distinctions. It is a rich source for you to learn about the various states of the country and teach your kids. It is a great place for your little ones to visit and enjoy the experience. Also, adding to the beauty, they have puppets depicting Lord Ganesha.
Up for a quick snack or want to end a food craving? Le Club is one of the places to visit in Pondicherry for a beautiful dining experience. It is famous for its food, greatly influenced by the French in Pondicherry and is also said to be the first of its kind. The ambience is stunning and perfect for making your evening brighter. While the wind plays with your hair, the view from the restaurant’s terrace is simply splendid. The setting of the restaurant is more like a shack that will remind you of the beach. They also serve delicious European food which is a must try. Le Club lights up by the evening with upbeat music creating a lively feel and cocktails are served while people dance their heart away. This combination of a stunning view, the lively atmosphere and the delicious food helps set the ideal mood for a perfect night out. The site is famous for steaks, pasta, pizzas, and chocolate mousse. They even ace the local cuisine which includes Malabar style fish dishes, prawn curry and paneer dishes.
The French influence is predominant in Pondicherry, reflected clearly in the White Town. It is a colonial area that is a perfect confluence of the culture and architectural style of the French. What were once the cottages and houses of the French families, are now converted to heritage hotels, museums, art galleries and restaurants. The area is well planned and structured. The colours of the colonies are pastels, and blue, white and yellow hues are prominently seen.
The surroundings are picturesque and unique. It’s one of the places to visit in Pondicherry where kids can learn about the past of the city.
This is the centre attraction of the town which is right next to the sea. It intertwines the Indian and French cultural together into a captivating thread. This place will take you back in time and history. So if you are a history enthusiast, this is your heaven. Also, don’t forget to visit the museum, which has an abundance of knowledge about the varied cultures of India and France. The museum has a vast collection of arms, muskets, swords used during various wars by the French and Indian army. A colossal statue of Natraj on the ground floor which will blow your mind as soon as you enter. There are pictures and glimpses of the French era of Pondicherry, furniture during their realm, the cutlery used for dinners and various mirrors. You will feel the change in terms of culture and scenarios of shopping and strolling while in this colony.
All in all, it’s a great place to visit, to learn about history and witness some amazing architecture and scenic vistas.
Sita Cultural Centre is an institute for anyone who intends to learn south Indian arts. Sita Center is a French-Indian cultural center where you are allowed to take sessions for various kinds of classes and dances, even for a single day. You can attend different shows and festivals throughout the year by visiting the centre on specific dates. It’s one of the places to visit in Pondicherry where kids can learn a great deal about performing arts.
Cooking is a well-loved art for homemakers and chefs. Thousands of people from all over India are determined to join professional classes to learn the art of cooking. There are many such art forms which can be learnt in Pondicherry which is an experience for both adults and kids alike.
Traditional Art of Pondicherry - Kolam and Mehendi are two very famous and purely traditional arts from the culture of Pondicherry. You can learn the basics even with a single session and experience how much devotion and hard work it needs to attain precision. But with practice, you can get better!
Learn Ayurveda - Ayurveda has its popularity and importance written in history. Chennai is the central hub where you can enhance your knowledge about the wonders of Ayurveda. Pondicherry too has centres where you can learn Ayurveda.
Dance Classes for Families - The Sita Institute has produced some talented and famous dancers. There is a chance for the whole family to join classes to learn Bollywood dance, Bharat Natyam, ballet, yoga, Pilates and music. You can take part in such sessions for even a day and they are open to anyone who has the passion for it.
Attend End of the Year Show - Every year the Sita Cultural Centre arranges a show in which the students perform their specific expertise to entertain visitors. The show is organised at the end of every year. You should attend the show at least once to witness great artistic performances.
Indian Cuisine Classes - Sita Cultural Centre is also among the most prominent organisers of Indian cuisine workshops. There is no age limit and they are open to anyone who wishes to learn about the delicious cuisines and spices for various dishes including Indian and South Indian.
These classes and things to do in Pondicherry are great for kids and families. Why not try something new?
The official residence of Lieutenant General of Pondicherry, Raj Niwas is a restricted place that only opens on the 26th of January for official visits. It’s a classic model of French-Indian architecture. The building used to be the famous De La Compagnie Palace and then became the residence of French governors leading to the conversion into the home of Pondicherry governor.
Visit Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple - Almost half a kilometre away from Raj Niwas, you can see the marvellous Ganesha temple built by the French. It’s a perfect destination to fulfil your religious desires. The temple is an old monument with extraordinary architecture.
Discover the activities with 'Global Voyage' - If you get bored, then you can head to Global Voyage. They can organise excellent activities for your trip around Pondicherry. You can reach them by travelling about 0.4km from Raj Niwas. They will take you for trekking through the jungle and you can experience wildlife with them as well.
One of the top places to visit in Pondicherry is Pondy Bazaar. One who enters the territory of Pondicherry can never leave without making a stop at Pondy Bazaar. It’s the biggest market in Pondicherry and the perfect place for shopping and bargaining.
Bargaining in Pondy Bazaar - Though the market is cheap and inexpensive, some bargaining is essential to get the right price. Plenty of shop owners let their attendees do the bargaining, with mild reaction. It’s recommended that you try to negotiate the price when you buy a whole lot of stuff from a single shop. Ultimately, bargaining in Pondy Bazaar is widespread and works very well.
Fixed price shops - Along with the bargaining-friendly shops, there are these fix price shops as well where you must pay what price is mentioned. It’s fixed and cannot change. It tends to be convenient for people since they don’t have to haggle, especially those who aren’t used to it.
Things to buy from Pondy Bazaar – An array of items including bangles, traditional dresses, custom made dresses, designer saris, wedding saris, footwear, jewellery, off-the-rack suits, men’s accessories and much more.
Things to do in Pondy Bazaar - Apart from shopping, you can get groomed at the saloons and spas. There are also many places to eat so you can have delicious meals and also get the taste of traditional food in the market.
Cautions before going to Pondy Bazaar - Before you go to Pondy Bazaar, make sure you have plenty of cash because most of the shops are not big enough to accept credit cards. Do not use your vehicle to reach the bazaar because it will become a task for you to park it.
If you seek a local experience, Pondy Bazaar is one of the best places to see in Pondicherry for the entire family.
Although the region has emerged from being French-occupied colonies, it still has kept the monuments preserved in exquisite shape. For example, the French War Memorial is the monument built in 1937 in the memory of the deceased in World War 1. The memorial is situated opposite the Gandhi Statue in Pondicherry.
The best time to visit the memorial - The memorial gets decorated and presented with lots of lighting and illuminations on Bastille Day which is held on the 14th July of every year. The day is celebrated in honour of the colonels and their loved ones who took part in the war and faced many losses and grief at the time.
Timings and information to visit the memorial - The memorial is a tiny place to visit. It can be covered in about 2 to 3 hours. It’s open every day and the timings are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You are allowed to sit inside the garden for 2 hours. It’s one of the places to see in Pondicherry that is recommended for photographers and history lovers. You can visit the memorial and the Statue of Gandhiji together.
The Ousteri Lake or better known as Osudu Lake is one of the well-hidden gems in and a great place to see in Pondicherry. Looking at the gorgeous lake, you wouldn’t think that this marvel is man-made, but it is. This century-old lake is the perfect spot for some rest and relaxation, a stroll to enjoy nature or even to have a picnic if you are traveling with family or friends.
Ousteri Lake is located a mere 10 km from the town of Pondicherry. The lake is spread over 390 hectares and comprises of a plethora of flora and fauna. It is a natural wonderland, for those who are fond of exploring the intricacies of nature. The more surprising aspect of this lake is that it comprises of water, wetlands, marshes, and mudflats. All of this also includes the beautiful herb and tree species scattered throughout the area. The lake is home to many migratory birds in the winter and native birds during the summer and winter. This is a great location for some undisturbed bird watching if you are in Pondicherry. The government is also planning to set up two telescopes, so you might just be in luck if you plan your trip in a few months’ time.
A small boat club takes visitors for 20-minute boat rides onto the lake, where you might just see some beautiful birds. The boat ride is Rs. 100 per person and the lake is open for visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Make sure to carry your camera along for some great pictures of the flora in the botanical gardens and you can turn this into a fun, fact-finding activity for your kids if you are traveling with family.
Pondicherry’s location makes it the perfect location for some outdoor activities, especially for the thrill-seekers. Pondicherry has this image of being a laid back town, where things are tranquil. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s nothing exciting to do because kayaking and rafting are the most sought after activities here.
The perfect location for kayaking is the Karaikal Beach, with an expanse of still water, extending out to the horizon. Paradise Beach is also a great destination, but Karaikal Beach is calmer, making it a better option for kayaking. The reason kayaking is such a popular activity is because of the serene backwaters that provide the perfect setting for peaceful kayaking or even sailing, if you are up for a challenge. Kayaking is best done in waters that allow you to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings, and if you are in Pondicherry, well you are in for a treat.
The Green Quarter is the Muslim Quarter in Pondicherry. The town is an amalgamation of cultures and influences of cultures and how people come together to live peacefully. The Green Quarter, though not as vibrant as the French Quarter, is still one of the places to see in Pondicherry. It is best explored by foot or you can choose one of the guided tours if you want to learn about the history of the quarter. The architecture in the Quarter is unique and different from the rest of Pondicherry, so definitely go and witness the interesting houses you will see on your stroll through the area.
The Islamic architecture you see here is just stunning. Be prepared to become speechless when you see the 300-year-old Meeren Mosque. Kuthuba Mosque is the oldest mosque in Pondicherry and the amount of history here will amaze you. The minarets, the artistic architecture, the designs on the walls and the serene atmosphere of the Green Quarter will make you want to stay here for a while and soak in the culture and history. This particular area is very different from the French Quarter and the Tamil Quarter, so make sure you take the time to understand and appreciate the differences in each section of Pondicherry.
While Pondicherry’s proximity to Auroville makes it a gateway to spirituality, the retail therapy in this town does not disappoint. The people who live here are very conscious of being sustainable and environmentally friendly and you will find garments and clothing made with sustainable fabrics, aromatherapy products, and homemade skin care products. A lot of local designers with excellent work display their products in stores in Pondicherry as well. This is the hub of sustainable living, so you will find beautiful Auroville products, such as hand painted silk clothes, ceramics, candles and much more here.
Pondicherry is also home to a couple of establishments that make 100% organic chocolate. If you are lucky, you might be able to tour the chocolate making factory as well. One of the well-kept secrets is that there is a store in the town that stocks branded products (think big-name international clothing and accessory brands), but at affordable prices. The famous design brand Hidesign has its flagship store in Pondicherry, so in case you need a new handbag, you know where to go next. Pondicherry stores are all about supporting local craftspeople, artisans and being kind to the environment, so don’t feel guilty about your shopping spree, you deserve it. Culturally rich, the town is great for exploring new cultures, new cuisine and now, you have the opportunity to explore new designer labels and local handicraft items.
Did you know that Pondicherry is also home to the beautiful Botanical Gardens? Well, now that you do, one of the places to see in Pondicherry are this gorgeous gardens. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, the gardens are great spot for families travelling to Pondicherry. Located in the middle of what is known as Tamil Town or Tamil quarter, its unique location makes it all the more attractive. The layout and design of the gardens is very French, so be prepared for some beautiful instalments.
The plants that thrive here were actually brought by the French people when they came to Pondicherry. A lot of exotic plants are housed in these gardens spanning 22 hectares. There are over 2500 plant species. The great thing about these gardens is that there is information about each plant, its origins, its common name, and even the amount of oxygen it generates. Medicinal plants also have a home in these gardens. There are 28 sub-plots in the gardens, so you can navigate your way through the garden quite easily. There are six fountains scattered throughout the gardens, with a cute toy train for kids running through the garden as well. A musical and dancing fountain conducts a light and sound show twice every evening. An aquarium offers a glimpse into the local marine life.
Entry to the aquarium requires a separate fee and entry to the gardens itself are priced at Rs.10 for adults and Rs.5 for children. The train rides also require a separate fee. The gardens will definitely take up half a day and if you want to witness the music and light show, make sure to visit in the second half of the day.
The Alamparai Fort is a 17th century Mughal Fort standing tall even today. The fort overlooks the sea and that is one of its most interesting attributes. It is one of the places to see in Pondicherry that is located about 50 km from Pondicherry, so make sure you have time to make this drive and make the appropriate travel arrangements. The structure is built with red coloured bricks and limestone, with an elegant mausoleum in the middle of the fort. Tall walls surround the fort and you can climb up a set of stairs to the top of the wall to enjoy the stunning vistas all around the fort. More than 25,000 visitors go to the fort each year, so it is no small tourist attraction.
The old ruins inspire a feeling of awe when you walk around the fort. Trees cling to the walls and you can see roots growing into the red brick walls of the fort. The fort is quite old, so make sure you are careful about where you walk and especially when you climb up to the outer walls.
A lesser known fact about the fort is that it was destroyed by the British and the tsunami of 2004 also had a detrimental effect on the structure. However, despite this, some parts of the fort still stand strong. This is the perfect location for some amazing pictures so keep your camera or phone ready to start clicking to capture the complete beauty of the fort. There are no restaurants or accommodation options in the vicinity, so make sure you head back to either Pondicherry or Chennai in time.
The Cluny Embroidery Centre is located in a quaint 18th-century building. It is actually a local convent for underprivileged women in the region. So, why is this on our list of places to see in Pondicherry? For starters, it supports women by teaching them embroidery and training them in this particular form of art. Women make everything from linens to dresses here, and these products are then sold to visitors coming to Pondicherry. The centre is run and overseen by Catholic nuns.
About 50 years ago, two French women donated this building and made sure that it was used for helping women in one way or another. The facility also fulfils orders from designer labels and has their own products that you can take home as keepsakes of Pondicherry. The embroidery that women work on here is quite neat, dainty and stunning. They create little floral patterns, with intricate birds embroidered into handkerchiefs, linen and other fabrics. You will see some fantastic motifs on these clothes and the finishing is unlike any place else. Make sure you find out when the centre is open since it is open to the public only for a few hours each day.
Supporting local artisans while travelling is a great way to give back to a community or help them get their feet off the ground. This centre, in particular, is known for teaching the necessary trade skills to women who come here. Shopping from here means you are supporting local artists, local trade and local artisans. So don’t be afraid to pick out one, two or even five pieces to take back home.
After a long day of exploring the sights and sounds of Pondicherry, you can unwind and come back to a comfortable stay at the Club Mahindra Pondicherry Resort. According to the Club Mahindra reviews, this place is the perfect spot for a holiday in Pondicherry with your family. With comfortable rooms, a great in-house restaurant and ample modern amenities, it’s the best spot for a holiday.
Pondicherry has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions. It’s fascinating history and unique blend of cultures set the foundation of Pondicherry’s tourism appeal. Arikamedu, Shri Aurobindo Ghosh Ashram, Auroville, Paradise Beach, Gingee Fort, French Quarter, Chunnambar Boat House, Goubert Avenue, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, White Town, Pondy Bazaar and French War Memorial are some of the top sightseeing places in Pondicherry.
Yes, absolutely! The ‘French Haven of India’ is bursting with culture and history! Strolling through its quaint streets, you will be able to soak in the local culture, learn about the French and Dutch architectural wonders and snack on freshly baked French treats. When you’re not doing that, you can relax at one of its many gorgeous beaches or explore the local markets for goodies and treats to take back home with you! Pondicherry offers the perfect mix of leisure and adventure for tourists to enjoy.
There are many things to do in Pondicherry such as shopping in the local markets, exploring Pondicherry on bicycles, going on a heritage walk, visiting Aurobindo Ashram and more. Since the town is blessed with some beautiful beaches, there is the opportunity to indulge in numerous water sports and activities such as scuba diving, surfing, boat rides, sailing and much more.
The local cuisine of Pondicherry offers an interesting mix of Tamil and French flavours. Since the land was a part of the French empire until the 20th century, you will come across numerous cafes, bakeries and restaurants serving delicious and authentic French food. From the French baguettes to croquettes to coq au vins to the Tamilian Mutton Sambar, Meen Kuzhambu and Fried Nethili, there is so much food to relish in Pondicherry!
Pondicherry is completely safe at night, whether you are travelling alone, travelling with a fellow female friend or with kids. Almost all eateries and other places shut shop by 11 pm and people are indoors by then.
Goa and Pondicherry, each offer something different and unique. While Goa is more happening and upbeat, Pondicherry is more laidback and relaxed. There are many things to do in Pondicherry and Goa such as relaxing on the beach, shopping, exploring historical monuments, etc. If you are looking for nightlife options then Goa is the place but if you really want to enjoy the peaceful ambience, then you should visit Pondicherry.
Pondicherry is not that expensiveConsidering the cost of transportation, accommodation, sightseeing and things to do in Pondicherry, food and shopping, your cost for a week in Pondicherry should be approximately 10,000-12,000 INR per person. If you are travelling with family, your daily cost and budget for the trip will increase accordingly.
A 3 nights, 4 days trip is enough. You will be able to cover most things to do in Pondicherry, including shopping, participating in water sports, enjoying the local food, etc.
White town and French Quarters are considered as the best areas in Pondicherry for staying.
Pondicherry is a popular holiday destination and offers numerous outdoor activities. From water sports to heritage walks to cycling tours to shopping to food-hopping, there are outdoor things to do in Pondicherry.
These are some things to do in Pondicherry for day trips - 1. Visit Auroville 2. Visit Gingee Fort 3. Enjoy a Guided Heritage Walk around the city 4. Visit Pichavaram Mangrove Forest 5. Visit Tiruvannamalai Temple and Sri Ramana Ashram.
Some of the things to do in Pondicherry with kids include visiting Rock Beach, go cycling, enjoy the French food, trip to Auroville, etc.
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.