India’s French Riviera: Pondicherry – A Little France in India
Pondicherry was the French Capital of India until 1954. It is now a Union Territory surrounded by Tamil Nadu state. It was under French colonial rule for 300 years. The area of the city is small and it is bounded by a waterway that runs through the North and South. The Eastern part of the town is the old colonial area, facing the Bay of Bengal.
Pondicherry is often referred to as the French Riviera of the East. It is famous for a weekend getaway in South, away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities with several tourist attractions and must-see places. The town has an undeniable French connection – the tree-lined avenue, the colonial heritage buildings, the spiritual landscapes, the endless range of unspoiled virgin beaches, backwaters and an extraordinary choice of restaurants that draws travelers from across the country and beyond.
- Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Located on the south boulevard of Pondicherry, it is also known as the Parent church for Catholic diocese for Pondicherry and Cuddalore. The church is an oriental specimen of Gothic architecture and comprises of rare stained glass panels representing events from the life of Christ and saints of the Catholic Church.
- Promenade Beach
Promenade Beach is the famous stretch of beachfront in the city of Pondicherry, along the Bay of Bengal. It is a 1.2-kilometre-long stretch which starts from War Memorial and ends at Dupleix Park on the Goubert Avenue. It is the perfect place to spend time during evenings with family and friends. You can enjoy the fresh breeze and calming waves hitting the shore. There are some excellent restaurants and food joints around the beach that you can enjoy.
- Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Located in the heart of Pondicherry, this ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo who marked the history of India by his writings and actions. He is a prominent figure in South India with the French “Mother,” with whom he worked closely to arrive at a system of thinking based on meditation, relaxation, and sharing. You will hear very often about these two people during your trip. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is one of the main destinations for travelers and spiritual seekers.
- Sri Gokilambal Thirukameshwara Temple
The Villianur Temple in Pondicherry is named after the place where it is found. The temple has 15 meters tall chariot that is usually taken out in a procession during the Brahmotsavam, which is the yearly festival of Pondicherry.
- The Auroville
Auroville stands for the name “The City of Dawn” and it was founded in the year 1968. It is universal for men and women who can live together to understand the progress and human unity of progress. The Auroville coast is standing in line with soft golden and black volcanic sand. To reach Auroville, one can easily obtain a rented motorcycle for which the charges are around RS. 100 per day. This is the best place to spend time in the evening.
- Jinji Fort
Jinji Fort is one of the most famous places being visited in Pondicherry. It is also famous for its unique architectural achievement, history lovers, wanderers, and loners. The fort is open from 9 am to 7 pm in the evening. In the year 1921, this fort was declared as a national monument.
- Paradise Island / Beach
If you want to explore paradise, then Paradise Beach should be at the top of your chart when you visit Pondicherry. The beach is really soft in nature, and it is an ideal place for fun lovers and adventure seekers. The beach is truly a paradise with its blue water, gold and silver sand. To reach this place, there is a Chunnambar boat house to take a speedboat from which you will leave on this island within 20 minutes. It originally falls south on the way to Cuddalore.
- Jawahar Toy Museum
Jawahar Toy Museum is a doll house which has more than 140 dolls from various Indian states. The museum is near the Gandhi Maidan, which is in the main city in the old lighthouse. The museum is open every day, except on Monday from 10 am to 5 pm.
- White Town
White Town is the French section of Pondicherry, and as the name implies, this region was reserved for the white (French) people back in the day.
Wandering around White Town, you will recognize bright yellow and white walls, arched passages lined with bougainvillea, and complete European-style streets, making this area surreal and super scenic. You will be transported back in time, and the striking French-inspired architecture makes White Town a visual delight.
It’s a pretty unique spot that apprehends a thread of India’s past intertwined with the French. For that reason, White Town is a glorious place to visit in Pondicherry for any guest.
- Botanical Garden
This botanical garden is located near the new bus stand. It was founded in the beginning of 19th century. This garden is typically a French garden with a gravel path, fountains and pruned trees. There are numerous exotic plant species here. A unique musical fountain show is held every evening. You can spend time walking amidst exotic plants and enjoy unique colored flowers.
Popular restaurants in Pondicherry
Though Surguru is in the Heritage Town, it is very popular for local South Indian cuisine, specially vada-sambar, dosas, pongal and uttapam. Filter coffee is one of their specialities. You could also opt for thali (meals) when you go there during afternoon times.
As the name suggests, this bakery is in Auroville itself on the Kuilapalayam main road. It’s renowned for tarts, quiches, pizzas and croissants among many others. Everything is prepared freshly on a daily basis and very affordable rates too.
Situated on Caserne street, Le Dupleix is mainly known for its fusion food where Indian and European recipes blend in an interesting manner. Some of the most popular dishes here are Rock lobster, Bengali Doi Maach and Rasam au Crevettes.
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