Top places to visit in Pondicherry
Puducherry, more commonly referred to as Pondicherry, is one among the seven Union Territories of India. It is an old French colony situated in the south-eastern part of the Indian Peninsula where the French world meets the sea life.
JE T’AIME, PONDICHERRY! Welcome to the Yellow city. A city that boasts of heritage, bustling boulevards, crystal clear beaches, delicious food, and delightful memories. The town’s architecture reflects the French colonial past but blends the traditional Indian sensibilities. A stroll down the streets is enough for you to have a love affair with Pondicherry because it is impossible to escape from its fairytale-like charm.
The fascinating mustard yellow buildings of the 18th century with blooming bougainvillea laden walls in the White Town offer a delightful view during a leisurely stroll.
Pondicherry is blessed with a picturesque coastline and its soul resides in the sea. You will be allured by the spectacular beaches on your visit here. If you want to indulge in adventures, thrilling water sports are quite popular at the beaches. Also, not to forget the authentic French bakeries and cafes such as Café dés Arts, Le Rendezvous, etc. that will help you to satiate your taste buds.
Visiting Pondicherry in the months October to March would be ideal as the weather is chilly enough for you to go sightseeing and indulge in outdoor activities. If you have already started imagining yourself reading a book in one of the quaint cafes in the White Town or walking along the promenade exploring the boulevards and streets of Pondicherry that lead you to the most gorgeous beaches, we have got you covered. Here’s a comprehensive list of the classic places for you to explore the colonial architecture and the immensely gorgeous beaches in Pondicherry.
You require India e-Tourist Visa (eVisa India or Indian Visa Online) to witness the amazing places and experiences as a foreign tourist in India. Alternatively, you could be visiting India on a India e-Business Visa and want to do some recreation and sight-seeing in northern India and foothills of Himalayas. The Indian Immigration Authority encourages visitors to India to apply for Indian Visa Online (India e-Visa) rather than visiting Indian Consulate or Indian Embassy.Yellow city
Paradise BeachParadise Beach
Paradise Beach, situated in Chunnambar along the Cuddalore Road, is one of the cleanest beaches in Pondicherry. The golden sand and clear water makes this isolated beach a spectacular place to visit in Pondicherry. Situated at around 8 kms from the Pondicherry Bus Station, you have to take a ferry from the boathouse at Chunnambar across the backwaters, which might take around 20-30 minutes.
The journey is beautiful as the backwaters on the way are green and have thick mangrove forests, especially after monsoon. The ride might appeal to the senses of the photographers or photography enthusiasts because of the picturesque view along with the birds and sometimes dolphins that are spotted during the journey. The ferry ride comes to an end with the view of a pristine beach that is adorned with the golden sand, its blue waters, and serene ambience. There are a few shacks near the entrance to the beach and you can also indulge in simple delicacies at the bar that serves soft drinks and snacks, etc. You can enjoy your time sunbathing or relaxing under the cool breeze of royal palm trees lining the beach while sipping on fresh coconut water.
Paradise beach is a great spot to get a splendid view of the sunrise on the eastern coast. The beach is visited by locals and tourists during the weekends which causes overcrowding and since the tides are strong at times, it is not advisable to go deeper into the sea here. Even though swimming is restricted, a variety of water sports equipment, volleyball, nets and fishing rods are available for the entertainment of the visitors. One exciting part about the visit to Paradise Beach is the opportunity to spend the night in a tree house. Is there a better treat for a nature lover?
Bazaars of India
Auroville is one of the main tourist attractions in Pondicherry and is famed, especially among the solace-seekers. The place, founded by Mirra Alfassa, the Mother of the Aurobindo society, is located around 15 kms away from the city, in Tamil Nadu. This place can be considered as an epitome of tranquility and offers a perfect escape from reality and transfers one into the realm of peace.
Referred to as the City of Dawn, Auroville is a futuristic township that aims to unite people from all facets of life and from all corners of the world irrespective of their caste, color, creed, and religion. It means a universal town where people from any country, following different cultures and traditions can live in harmony with one another with no scope for discrimination. During the inauguration of this township, soil from 124 countries including Indians from 23 different states was brought and deposited inside a lotus shaped urn so as to symbolize universal togetherness.
In the middle of Auroville is a huge golden globe-like structure called Matrimandir which is the Temple of the Divine Mother. Matrimandir is an exquisite meditation center for the visitors to sit and focus their attention towards their inner self. Daylight enters this space from the roof and is directed towards a huge crystal globe that illuminates providing a focus for the medication.
The Aurovilleans reside together following the principles of the Mother, such as peace, human unity, sustainable living and divine consciousness. Auroville has been successful in promoting the message of Mirra Alfassa and establishing a harmonious environment. You can sit in a café and have a conversation with some of the residents about their experience living in the experimental township.
Serenity Beach is a massive hit among the travelers as it is clean and calm, just like how its name suggests. The beach is situated on the outskirts of Pondicherry in Kottakuppam, at a distance of 10 kms from Pondicherry Bus Station, and is close to the East Coast Road. As the beach is isolated from the city, an atmosphere of absolute harmony and quietude is prevalent here. The beach greets the visitors with a panoramic view of its golden sands and blue waters.
The peaceful sea-cost makes it a perfect destination for romantic walks, sunbathing, and swimming or to just relax and soak in the meditative sound of the undulating waves crashing. The beach offers a perfect getaway from the mundane city life as the sparkling waters of the scenic Bay of Bengal, sun-kissed sands and unmatched tranquility that you experience here will capture your soul.
If you are feeling adventurous, the beach offers various adventure sports activities like surfing, canoeing, and kayaking. The beach is popular among surfers and a few surfing schools are also located near the beach as the big waves of the beach offer good surfing opportunities. The beach is quite popular among the fishermen. Yoga centers are also located near the beach for the visitors interested in learning the art of yoga. The Serenity Beach Bazaar, also known as the Handicraft Market, exhibits products from the local boutiques such as garments, leather goods, handicrafts, and is open only on weekends from 10 am to 5 pm. This resplendent beauty of nature is the ideal spot for you to laze around under the shade in the company of your loved ones.
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This popular spiritual community or ashram is one of the most tranquil tourist spots in Pondicherry. The ashram situated in the White Town of Pondicherry at a distance of 2.5 kms from Pondicherry Bus Station was founded by Sri Aurobindo Ghosh in 1926. Sri Aurobindo laid the foundation of the ashram on 24th November 1926 after his retirement from politics in the presence of his disciples. The main aim of the ashram was to help people in attaining ‘moksha’ and inner peace. The ashram is still visited by tourists in search of peace, tranquility and spiritual knowledge. The ashram solely exists in Pondicherry and does not have other branches. After the death of Sri Aurobindo in 1950, the Ashram was looked after by Mirra Alfassa who was one of Aurobindo’s followers and was regarded as the ‘Mother’ of the Ashram.
The ashram encompasses several buildings and over 1000 members along with over 500 students and devotees. During the festivals, the Ashram comes alive as thousands of tourists and followers visit the place. However, the members make sure to maintain the atmosphere of discipline and peace within the ashram. The ashram also comprises library, printing press, art gallery, along with other spaces. To ensure overall wellbeing of the members and visitors, many physical activities like sports, asanas, swimming, strength training, etc are also practiced at the ashram. Four houses in this spiritual center were also inhabited by the ‘Mother’ and Sri Aurobindo for different periods of time. The ‘Samadhi’ of Sri Aurobindo and Mother is situated in the courtyard at the center of the ashram under the frangipani tree and people from all over visit the place to offer respect by laying flowers on it. If you are inclined towards spirituality and meditation, Aurobindo Ashram is the ideal place for you to reflect upon your inner self so as to experience and achieve spiritual enlightenment.
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Promenade BeachPromenade Beach
Promenade Beach, also known as Rock Beach, is one of the most beautiful and photogenic sightseeing places situated in Pondicherry due to its golden sand. Located at a distance of 3.5 kms from the Pondicherry Bus Station, Promenade Beach is a crowd favorite. The beach is referred to by several names like Rock Beach due to the presence of rocks along the beach and Gandhi Beach due to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi situated along the stretch of the beach. It stretches for about 1.5 km between War Memorial and Duplex Park on Goubert Avenue, offering an astounding view of the scenic landscape.
The Goubert Avenue is the historical section of Pondicherry where beautiful colonial buildings are situated. It is due to the presence of iconic landmarks such as the War Memorial, the statues of Joan of Arc, Mahatma Gandhi, the Town Hall, the 27 meter tall old Lighthouse, that Promenade Beach is considered as a wonderland for the tourists. During the evening, especially on weekends, different sections of people arrive at the beach premises for playing volleyball, jogging, walking, or swimming.
Despite the crowd, the beach is well-maintained and spectacular and allows the visitors to spend a cozy evening gazing at the pleasing sight of the waves blending with the rocky shores. Visiting the beach during the morning hours would be a great idea as the beach is less crowded and you can witness the ocean sprays, waterscape in its full glory. You can also walk along the long stretch of the beach exploring the significant landmarks while breathing in the fresh ocean air. There are various local handicrafts stores, restaurants and eateries serving authentic traditional food along the shoreline for the visitors to satiate their taste buds The popular café, Le Café is also situated near the beach and is a must try for the seafood lovers. If you are looking for an escape from your mundane and monotonous life, a visit to the Promenade Beach is your choice!
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Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most prominent places in Pondicherry owing to its elegant gothic architecture. This sacred religious place was established in 1908 by the French missionaries and was elevated with the status of the Basilica in 2011 making it the only Basilica in Pondicherry out of the 21 Basilicas in India. It is situated at a distance of 2.5 kms from the Pondicherry Bus Station. The images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mother Mary are carved in the entrance door along with biblical words engraved in Latin. It also contains rare stained glass panels that depict various events from the life of Lord Jesus Christ and saints of the Catholic Church. Devotees from all over the world gather here to offer prayers to the Almighty and to attain peace. Events such as New Year, Christmas, and Easter are celebrated in a grand manner at the church. This beautiful Catholic Church in Pondicherry would take you away from the harsh realities of the fast-paced life and transfer you into a world of tranquility.
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