India

Pondicherry: A bit of France in South India

Sightseeing in french quarter Pondicherry

Whenever we want a quick run away from the maddening chaos of the city, we look no farther than Pondicherry. This tropical paradise has so much to offer in abundance – serene coasts, green seas, bright sunshine, French architecture, delectable food and the list is endless. Since during our earlier trips to Pondy (3 times to be precise – told you that we love Pondy), we had been to its major attractions, this time we decided to explore Pondicherry slightly differently by also adding some offbeat places around to our itinerary and must say we were glad to have done so. So let’s get started !!

Getting There

The best way to reach Pondicherry from Bangalore is via road. The total driving distance from Bangalore to Pondicherry is 380 km (This is not the shortest route – google usually suggests the shortest one, but definitely the most comfortable one. The majority of it is a 6 lane highway which you would really enjoy cruising through (except from Vellore to Tindivanam ~100 km which is a single lane road). Alternatively, you can take a flight to Chennai and drive on the ECR road to reach Pondicherry, just 170 km away from Chennai.

When driving from Bangalore, though you will find many eateries on the highway but SaiSangeet has a special mention for its authentic South Indian vegetarian mouth-watering food and a quirky souvenir shop. En route to Pondicherry and 160 km away from Bangalore, it is a perfect pit stop to indulge in some appetizing food and shop for some handicrafts and souvenirs

Click here for the Google Maps Location

Where to Stay

Pondicherry is a popular tourist destination for domestic and foreign travelers alike and boasts of a variety of accommodation options from budget to luxury. We usually prefer to stay in White Town. This lets us stay very close to the promenade beach, major restaurants, and the Pondicherry market. If you wish to have a luxurious stay away from the city and in a resort then our pick is Le Pondy Resort. Away from the city hustle bustle, the resort boasts of huge green landscapes, private opening to the Paradise beach, beautiful pool and sumptuous food

Must-Dos when in Pondicherry

1. Catch Sunrise at the Beaches

Sunrises usually are the highlights of our travels. We just love the way the skies get filled with the glorious beams of the first rays of the sun, falling on our skin and faces while the skies change colors in just a matter of few seconds and there unravels a majestic view before our eyes. It also means getting up really early, not getting late and sticking to the schedule. Pondicherry has quite a few sunrise points but our favorite is the Promenade beach. It’s a long stretch and thus make sure that you reach 15-20 min before the sunrise happens to find the perfect spot for you and settle down.

TIP – Go close to the Pier, away from the Mahatma Gandhi Statue for an ideal spot to watch the sunrise. There you will also find the local fishermen bringing back the morning batch of sea fauna.

Click here for the google location

Serenity Beach although 20 min drive from the Pondicherry town is second close and deserves a mention as well.

Click here for the google location

Sunrise from the Serenity beach

2. Ousteri Lake aka Lotus Lake

Imagine rowing your boat through a sea of floating lotus flowers that expand as far as the eye can see. Dreamy isn’t it? But you can experience this for yourself at the century-old man-made Ousteri Lake. Also referred to as Osudu Lake, It is definitely the hidden gem of Pondicherry and is situated about 10 km (20 min drive) from Pondicherry town and is ideal for nature lovers and birdwatchers (though you will have to time your visit with the season of the migratory birds).

Click here for the google location

The carpet of the lotuses over the Ousteri Lake

3. Sivan Temple of Villianur

South India is generally known for its vibrant temples and the Sivan Temple of Villanur is no exception. The Villianur Temple in Puducherry is named after the place where it is located, just 8 km from Pondicherry and very close to Osudu Lake. TIP – Avoid going in the afternoons as it gets really hot and you won’t find a lot of shade in and around the temple.

Click here for the google location

View of the Sivan Temple of Villianur from the reservoir

4. Auroville

Auroville is not just a tourist spot but a small town in itself where people are devoted to their passion towards humanity, looking beyond just earning a living. In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which was conceived by Alfassa as a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection. Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquility of the space and entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called Peace area. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as a place to find one’s consciousness.

Click here for the google location

Maitrimandir

View of the Maitrimandir from the Entrance

TIP – Auroville is very spread out and large, so if you want to get around freely, rent a scooter or motorbike.

Auroville, usually flocked with Foreign travelers, boasts of some amazing cafes and bakeries. One such place worth mentioning is Bread and Chocolate. It is a VEGAN restaurant and every single item here is prepared with exquisite perfection and fresh ingredients. Must try place for Breakfast.

Click here for the google location

5. Explore White Town

Walking down the lanes of the white town, Pondicherry is always a treat to your eyes. Vibrant French houses with hanging veranda, bougainvillea covering the entrance and for a change spick and span clean streets is what you will be welcomed with by the White Town.

Click here for the google location

You can start your day by visiting the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. In a city with so many churches, this one remains our favorite. Built in the early 1790s, it is one of the oldest tourist sites in the city and was visited by Mother Teresa during her visit to Pondicherry.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

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There are lots of good restaurants worth visiting in White Town. We are just listing down a few that we visited and would recommend you to visit as well.

  • Baker Street
  • Cafe des Arts
  • Cafe Xtasi
  • Villa Shanti
  • Le Cafe
  • Kasha ki Asha
  • Gelateria Montecatini Terme (for some awesome Icecreams)

6. Go Shopping

In addition to being a great getaway to relax, Pondicherry is also a great place to shop. Most of the major shopping places are centered on Mission Street. Among other souvenirs, the travelers should shop for ceramic tableware and ornaments, terracotta toys and trinkets, incense and scented candles, handmade paper lampshades and stationery, Buddha and Ganesh figure stone carvings, brass statues and lamps and dream catchers. Special mention to some shops. We are just listing down a few that we visited and would recommend you to visit as well.

  • Auroboutique – Click here for the google location
  • Bon Appetit – Click here for google location
  • Janaki – Click here for the google location

Travel Budget: INR 1500 to 3000 per day

  • Accommodation in mid-range hotels and homestays: INR 800 – 1500
  • Food in cafes and restaurants: INR 500 – 750
  • Local transport in local taxis: INR 400 – 700
  • Sightseeing & Guided Tours: INR 100 – 1000

We hope that you have an amazing time in Pondicherry! We can’t wait to go back one more time!

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Abhigyan Dutt
    June 25, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Brilliant article, really detailed description of things to do in Pondicherry! Helped me a lot in planning my trip to Pondicherry. Looking forward to more such blogs from The Traveller Lens team along with beautiful photos of places and food!

  • Reply
    TheTravellerLens
    April 29, 2018 at 9:38 am

    We are so glad Siddharth that our Blog post helped you 🙂

  • Reply
    Siddharth Vadhera
    April 10, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Nicely summed it up, I followed your advice and had an amazing time in Pondi. Thanks for the guidance

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