Pondicherry Tourism And Travel Guide
29.4° C / 85° F
December to March
2 to 4 Days
Puducherry Airport (3 kms)
Puducherry Railway Station (3.8 kms)
Pondicherry aka Puducherry, the city on the coast of Bay of Bengal is one of the most noteworthy places of Southern India. A compact little town, Pondicherry is known for its unhurried lifestyle and a cosmopolitan setting with a charming French styled township on one side and a bustling Indian milieu on the other, with a strong Indo-French unity that you would always relish, be its monuments, the locality or its exclusively cuisine.
The history of Pondicherry is as varied as it comes. There are records of the region being ruled by the Pallavas, Cholas and Pandya Kingdoms and later by the Vijayanagara Empire and the Sultanate of Bijapur. Archaeological excavations at places like Arikamedu date back to trade with Rome in the 2nd century BCE. Later records show the arrival of the Dutch, Portuguese, the British and the French. Though the British had occupied the region several times, Pondicherry was predominantly a French settlement till 1962, when the colonies gained Independence from the French and merged with the Indian Union. You’ll still get to see a strong French influence in Pondicherry, right from street names and sign boards, to people who speak French as fluent as Tamil and restaurants that serve crepes, croissants and quiches, along with idlis and dosas.
Pondicherry is a tourism destination for the spiritual seekers, peaceful holidaymakers and those that need a peppy time! If you would love to visit Pondicherry, our travel guide will help you plan a memorable trip.
How to Reach
Pondicherry has an airport, but is well connected to major cities by rail and road too. The best way to reach Pondicherry would be by road.
Pondicherry’s domestic airport does not have a wide choice of flights. Fly by international or domestic flights to the nearest major airport at Chennai and hit the road to Pondicherry. Check out Air-Odisha flights to Pondicherry.
The Pondicherry railway station was inaugurated in 1879 and had trains running between Pondicherry and Villupuram. Today it is a busy railway station with trains chugging in from a number of major cities across the country.
A drive along the East Coast road (ECR) from Chennai to Pondicherry alongside the Bay of Bengal holds you in its sway. Drive to Pondicherry or board a bus which runs from a number of southern cities to Pondicherry.
Saunter through the picturesque streets. Or ride a bicycle. These are the best ways to explore Pondicherry. There are public mini buses, auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws; the latter would be nice for a heritage run through the streets.
Weather and the Best time to Visit
Months from December to March are winter here and the best period to visit Pondicherry.
In the coastal region, summers are hot and humid. But summer is the next best time to visit Pondicherry, as the evenings turn cool and you can spend more time, watching the sunset from the beaches. Take refuge from the heat of the day under an umbrella or a wide brimmed hat or within the cool confines of a cathedral.
The picturesque town looks squeaky clean with the onset of monsoons. But monsoon rains may be intermittent to heavy and might put a damper on your travel plans. Monsoon is off season for tourism in Pondicherry. Keep an umbrella and raincoat handy.
Winter might have occasional rains in December from the northeast monsoon. But otherwise this is the ideal time for tourism as the season is pleasant and dry by late winter; and you can indulge in adventure sports and go for boat rides on the lotus filled lakes too.
Things to Do
Catch the varied moods of Pondicherry at its beaches. Stroll along the Promenade Beach, go surfing and shopping at the Serenity Beach and swimming on the small Auro Beach, stretch out on a beach chair on the Paradise Beach or sunbathe in the Veerampattinam Beach as the fishermen haul in their catch for the day.
Learn the Arts:
Learn Kalaripayatu and theatre arts at Veenapani Chawla’s Adishakthi Laboratory for Theatre Arts and Research. Dabble in Indian or French cooking, yoganasanas, Barathanatyam, rangoli or indulge in a rejuvenating Ayurvedic massage at Sita Cultural Centre. Master the fine art of cheese making at Mango Hill. Go in for yoga and meditation sessions at Yoganjali Natyalayam. Practise what you have learnt at the calm Serenity Beach.
Spend a day exploring the Tamil Quarters of Pondicherry. Check out the ancient Isvaran Dharmaraja and Perumal Temple (1700) in the Hindu Quarters, the oldest mosques in the Muslim Quarters like the Meeran Mosque dating back to late 1600 and the magnificent churches in the Christian Quarters like the Sacré-Coeur de Jésus Cathedral built in 1902.
Pondicherry has not merely striking monuments, but simple, smaller structures that are noteworthy for their antiquity. Like the Bell tower (1892) in erstwhile Petit Bazaar, the Modeliar Clock tower (1851) in Grand Bazaar, the Aayi Mandapam in Bharathi park, built during the reign of Napolean 111, St. Joan of Arc (1923) and the statues for Dupleix and Mahatma Gandhi; and of course the popular old Light House.
Art and Craft Village:
Visit Pondicherry’s Art and Craft Village to see and acquire the indigenous art and craft products of Pondicherry. Your souvenir kitty gets full here. The Art and Craft Village is at Murungapakkam, at the Chunnambar backwaters.
National Fossil Wood Park:
The National Fossil Wood Park is at Thiruvvakarai, Villupuram, about 35 km from Pondicherry. The park has 20 million year old trees of the Mio-Pliocene age that had probably been washed away by rivers, deposited in these areas and perfectly petrified into fossils. The Park is maintained by the Geological Survey of India.
For a Tamil-French fusion cooking try Parisian styled cafes in the White Town or French Quarters. If you want a traditional South Indian meal spread on a banana leaf, try the South Indian Messes. Tanto Pizzeria near Auroville serves Italian food and Café Xtasi has firewood pizzas, while Baker’s Street has French pastries, quinches and pain au chocolat. Kelsang Dolma’s La Casita has the most delicious Tibetan momos served in the Travellers’ Café on the rooftop. Saunter through the township and it’s likely that you’ll stumble upon a fine restaurant serving multi cuisine fare. There are a number of restaurants in Pondicherry and you’re sure to be spoilt for choice picking one of the lot.
On Dumas Street, enroute to Alliance Francaise is Cluny Embroidery Centre, you can buy exquisite handmade embroidered clothes and furnishings. Shop at Auroville for hand crafted musical instruments and cotton garments. Buy furnishings, antiques and designer clothes at La Maison Rose at Ru Romain Rolland. Visit the souvenir shop and factory outlet in Sri Aurobindo Ashram for handmade paper, scented candles and incense sticks, body care items and souvenirs made of terracotta, wood and ceramics. Hidesign, a brand name for premier leather accessories has its headquarters in Pondicherry.
Visit Goubert Bazaar for Pondicherry’s local produce including veggies, fruits and fish and flowers and Serenity Beach Bazaar for ceramics, handicrafts and accessories. Visit Sunday Market at M.G.Road for a budget buy. Saram china market has fine Chinese goods and home décor products you can purchase.