Puducherry is perhaps most well known for Sri Aurbindo Ashram and that is one of the reasons that we visited the place for the first time. After that first visit six years ago, we have visited Puducherry many times simply because once is just not enough for this beautiful and exotic destination.
Colonial building in Puducherry. Photo from Flickr
If you enjoy walking through 18th century fashioned boulevards and enjoy French cuisine, this is the right place for you to be. We fell in love with the colonial style architecture that line the beach boulevard. The beautiful and flower laden bougainvilleas greet you from every corner of this enchanting land. Once you are here, you will see a distinct French influence but the amazing thing is that Puducherry still retains its Indian essence. Here you will find everything from quiet sunlit beaches to broad pavements where you can enjoy a relaxing walk in the pleasant evenings.
We flew to Chennai from Delhi and rented a car to drive down to Puducherry. It took us about three hours to drive down. You can take a bus from Chennai or rent a cab as well, depending on your budget. Once in Puducherry, you can rent a bike or a bicycle to move around town. Since Puducherry is a very small place, you can even move around the town on foot. We decided to rent bicycles which ranges from Rs. 50 per day to Rs. 500 per day depending on the make and the features offered.
A lot of people go to Puducherry expecting the vibrancy and craze of Goa, but even though Puducherry is a coastal town it is very different from the well known party destination. Puducherry sports a deeply spiritual and relaxing atmosphere. It is ideal for those who are looking to spend a relaxing weekend by the beach.
For local sightseeing, you should start with what’s most popular in Puducherry – Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Here you can learn a combination of modern science and yoga. This is a deeply spiritual place that has moved many people from all over the world. Do not miss the Notre Dame de Agnes, a classic French monument erected here by the French colonists. There are beautiful churches in Puducherry, of which the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Sacred Heart Church are the most famous. The Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple is another architectural wonder which warrants a visit.The evenings are ideally spent walking around the Promenade. There are several beaches you can visit. Simply follow the promenade and enter the beach that appeals to you the most.
Puducherry is a great place to visit throughout the year. A destination for those who are looking for a spiritual holiday combined with some quiet relaxing time, Puducherry beckons rather vehemently. Once you have been there, you will be compelled to return and experience the charm of this exotic little southern gem.
How to Get There?
By road: Puducherry is a two hours drive from Chennai.
By train: The nearest railway station is Chennai.
By air: The nearest airport is Chennai.
Where to Stay?
There are plenty of options for accommodation. Most of the colonial style villas and bungalows have been converted into snug hotels. They are extremely affordable and truly luxurious. We chose the Richmond hotel, a quaint yellow colored colonial structure with teal awnings and paved sidewalks. It has a beautiful and cozy café cum restaurant that serves European as well as Indian delicacies. It also has a lounge and pub where you can spend a relaxing evening. There are many other hotels close to the beaches and the lighthouse. You can choose from among some of the budget options such as Ginger and Pondicherry Executive. Among the more pricy options are Le Pondy and Villa Shanti.
What to Eat?
When you are in Puducherry, not trying the local French cuisine will be a big mistake. Au Feu de Bois and Le Club offer heavy French fare and you can enjoy a lot of European delicacies here. If you are looking for some Indian food, you can try out Surguru and Le Coromandale. There are a lot of bakeries and cafes all over the town. So if you want to unwind in the evening, just take a walk along the boulevard and you will definitely find something you like.