“The French Riviera of the East”
Puducherry, a Union Territory, is a former French colony is one of the best places to get a glimpse of colonial heritage with its lanes having small yellow-walled houses along with French cafes serving delicious steaks.
Pondicherry, now known as Puducherry and commonly referred as just Pondy, is one of the seven Union Territories of India. It was under French rule till 1954 and French influence on the culture can be very well felt over here. The older part of Pondicherry is a stark contrast to the surrounding South Indian cities with small houses, hotels, cafes, street-side shops selling an alternate world of French to the Indians. The tourists usually come from the nearby towns of Bangalore and Chennai, whereas foreigners also flock to this town studded with beautiful beaches. The town’s Auroville with the famous Shri Aurobindo Ashram is another prominent reason why people come over here. Pondicherry is a centre to learn the art of yoga, meditation and spirituality. The food, the beer, the beaches, the ashrams, the tranquil in the air, the breezy shores, Pondicherry has a colour for everyone.
Pondicherry offers an unmatchable bio-diversity. It covers an area of 479 square kilometres and has traditions, religions and a cultural ancestry being followed.
Paradise Beach, Pondicherry Overview
Also known as the Plage Paradiso, Paradise Beach is situated in Chunnambar, close to Pondicherry town. Adorned with the golden sand, this famous and highly sought after beach is always swaying in a cold sea breeze. This is a little-isolated beach, and to reach here, you have to take a ferry across the backwaters, which takes around 20-30 minutes.
Part of the fun in reaching the beach is the beautiful ferry from the boathouse – the backwaters on the way to the beach are green and have thick mangrove forests. Especially after the monsoons, the backwaters are fresh and green. You can spot a lot of birds while on the ride – and photography enthusiasts would relish the opportunity to get some great photos here.
The sand of the paradise beach is extraordinarily soft and grainy – and a walk along the entire beach is fantastic. However, the currents in the water are high, so it is advisable to not go deep in the water. There are a few shacks along the main entry to the beach, and you can get fresh coconut water and some simple snacks – don’t expect any fancy street food though.
Paradise beach is a great spot to reach early morning and get a view of the sunrise on the eastern coast. You can spend hours sitting on the beach and enjoying the waves. A variety of water sports facilities are available here as well – enthusiastic tourists can try a hand at fishing as fishing rods and nets are easily available for rent.
Auroville Ashram, Pondicherry Overview
Conceived as the ‘Universal Town’, the Auroville Ashram is an experimental township – the idea is to create a city where people from across the world of all cultures and traditions come and live together in peace.
Started by the Maa, a disciple of Shri Aurobindo in 1960s – the project was supported by the Govt. of India, and the UNESCO passed a resolution in 1966 commending this as “a project of importance to the future of humanity”. The town was officially inaugurated in 1968.
The architecture of the city is as interesting as the concept. The city is planned in a circle of radius 1.25kms, and the center of the city is the famous Matrimandir along with the gardens surrounding it. Just outside this are the industrial zone, the cultural zone, the peace zone, and the residential zone. Outside this, the entire city is surrounded by a “green belt” – this is supposed to act as a barrier against urban encroachment, a wildlife habitat, and sources of food/timber/etc. This entire area was created out of a wasteland, demonstrating the ability to conserve nature while developing a town.
The main attraction here is the “Matrimandir” – you can watch an introductory video about the concept of the city, and sit here in silence to concentrate. With water pooling in from different sides, the sound of the water and cool breeze which always flows, provides a perfect atmosphere for meditation. The mandir is an architectural masterpiece with a 30m high globe with a lotus-shaped foundation urn. The entry is free of costs, and you can only buy the tickets in person at the venue, not online. The walk from the entry gates to the center takes around 10-12 minutes.
The best way to experience Auroville ashram is to actually just sit in one of the cafes, and talk to some of the residents here about their experience of living in the city – you would be surprised to find out how much the people living here love the concept and the life.
Scuba Diving in Pondicherry
Scuba Diving in Pondicherry, Pondicherry Overview
Seaside Promenade, Pondicherry Overview
One of the things that does justice to Pondicherry’s French Roots is its beautiful Seaside Promenade. The area is well maintained, clean and beautiful and you can actually feel foam spray on your face while sipping a cooler in one of the many cafes at the promenade. Whether you’re visiting during the sunny day or the starry night, the Seaside Promenade is equally feel good.
Chunnambar Boat House
Chunnambar Boat House, Pondicherry Overview
The beach of Chunnambar is near the origin of the backwater. The sand is clean, and the water is crystal clear. It is a perfect place for one to spend a day out playing water sports and bathing in the sun. A short cruise is organized for the visitors which gives them a fantastic overall view of the serene beauty of the waters. One can also spot dolphins playing around in the water. It is a must-visit for the nature lovers.
People from near and far, from all over the world visit the place. It provides a serene environment away from the noise and fast-moving life of the city. One can self-introspect or spend a relaxing time at the beach by alongside the waters. Chunnambar is surrounded by greenery all over. It offers a beautiful view.
The stream of water alongside Chunnambar is a natural stream and is not very deep. There is a shelter provided which houses the bags and also offers some food and water bottles. Changing rooms are provided as well. It is a place which can be enjoyed and is worth visiting for every age group.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pondicherry Overview
This Gothic style building is a highly revered place of worship in Pondicherry. Visitors comprising of both tourists as well as devotees, who are staunch believers, visit to offer their prayers to the All Mighty here.
The extremely beautiful stained glass window depicts the life of Jesus. This gigantic church is one of the most attractive spots is whole Pondicherry.
Arikamedu, Pondicherry Overview
Arikamedu is located at the mouth of the river Ariyankuppam, and its name has been taken from the Tamil word- ‘Arikanmedu’ which means ‘eroding mount’. This port town was occupied by the people of Rome, Cholas, and French. It has been prevalent as a famous port town ever since the old Roman times. It served as a very famous maritime center from 1st century BC to 2nd century AD. The glass bead manufacturing factory of Arikamedu is called the mother of all bead centers in the whole wide world.
The first dig in Arikamedu took place in the 1940s, and since then these excavations are continuously being carried out. Out of these, the institution of Sir Mortimer Wheeler was the most encouraging. At present, the town does not have much to it other than the two perpendicular walls which were laid open and the French Jesuit Mission House which was constructed in the 18th century.
More so, one can come across mango trees and coconut trees in this region. The site also comprises of numerous amphorae having the mark of the Roman schools including VIBII, Camuri and IITA present there.
Pondicherry beach, Pondicherry Overview
Pondicherry Beach is also known as the Promenade Beach. It is a famous stretch of beachfront that extends from War Memorial to the Dupleix Park on the Goubert Ave, in the city of Puducherry, India. It stretches up to 1.2 kilometres along the Bay of Bengal and is the most popular stretch of road in Pondicherry. The beach is often crowded with groups of people playing volleyball, jogging, walking, skating, yoga and swimming, especially during the evenings. This attractive beach is usually characterised by ocean sprays, waterscape and waves of chatters.
The Promenade beach proves to be a wonderland for the tourists due to the presence of various significant landmarks nearby, namely the War Memorial, the statue of Joan of Arc, the heritage Town Hall, old lighthouse, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the remains of the old pier, Dupleix Statue and the old customs house. One can spot rocks and boulders on this tranquil beach. The beach is often adorned with Crustaceans and animals like crabs. It also hosts some of the most famous restaurants serving authentic traditional food making it nothing less than a heaven for the seafood lovers. One can also spot a lot of hawkers near Promenade Beach, who sell local handicrafts and street food. The opposite side of the beach is occupied by the beautiful heritage building of Tourist Information Center. Hence, all these features make the Pondicherry Beach a massive hit among the travellers looking for some escape from the mundane and monotonous city lives.
Botanical Garden, Pondicherry Overview
A popular tourist attraction of Pondicherry, Botanical Garden was established by C.S. Perrotet in the year 1862. The garden is home to several exotic varieties of rare plants as well as an aquarium.
This wide range of plants has been collected from various parts of India and around the globe. Aquarium is an interesting place to visit which abodes diverse collection of aquatic organisms as well as fish flora. One can also see the different methods of fishing adopted in the coastal areas being showcased here.
Ousteri Wetland and National Park
Ousteri Wetland and National Park, Pondicherry Overview
A national park rich in flora and fauna, Ousteri Wetland and National Park lay 10 km from Pondicherry town on the Pondicherry-Villuppuram road. Spread across an area of 3.
sq kms, the place basically lies on the border of Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. One can spot diverse variety of aqua-fauna and avi-fauna here. Apart from that, several distinct species of plants and trees call this place their home that also attracts a large number of migratory birds. With such diverse ecology and beautiful surroundings, the place is a paradise for nature lover and a photographer_?_s delight. Tourists can also avail the house boat facilities provided by the park authorities.