Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry, is the French capital of India and has everything to give for whether it is beautiful and serene beaches, history, French and local cuisine, temples, meditation centres, etc. It is a perfect getaway to spend some relaxing yet fun time to spend with your loved ones, and it should be on your bucket list. Until 1954, Pondy was under the French Colonial Settlement, and you can experience both French and Tamil culture and cuisines.
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So, here is a list of what you can do in Pondicherry:
Witness a beautiful Sunrise
As we were staying right in front of the serenity beach, we experienced mesmerising sunrise every morning. So what will be more beautiful than spending some alone time and experiencing the sunrise? This is one of the best moments which you can’t miss. So wake up early, head over to the beach and enjoy the sunrise over the Bay of Bengal.
Surfing at Serenity Beach
If you love doing water activities, then you must not miss surfing at Serenity beach. Located around 6 km from White Town, Serenity beach is famous for being a perfect spot for surfing. There, you can find plenty of surf schools. A perfect white sand beach with blue waters, Serenity beach, is less crowded on weekdays. We spend every morning on this peaceful and beautiful beach.
Auroville is a famous spiritual centre among people who are looking for spiritual peace. In 1968, Auroville was founded by Mirra Alfassa and Shri Aurobindo to spread peace between humans. The primary purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity and stability for the betterment of future generations. It is the most popular place in Pondicherry among people from different nations regardless of caste, creed, or nationality. Auroville, a township is located about 10 km from the city, is divided into two zones.
One is a peace zone which is known as Matrimandir, a golden meditation temple. You need to register in person a day in advance, and it is free of cost.
Another important zone is the Industrial zone, where you will find small and medium scale green industries, including training centres and city administration. Green Industries also has boutiques, a bookshop, a cafe, and restaurants.
Apart from spending time in Auroville, you can visit Auroville beach nearby and try some limited water sports.
A boat ride to Paradise beach from Chunnambar boathouse
Want to chill out at the beach? Take a boat ride to paradise beach island. Paradise beach is located at the merging of Chunnambar River and the Bay of Bengal. You can visit there by taking a boat ride from the Chunnambar boathouse. The way to Paradise beach is through backwaters, and on the way, you will have a joyful time looking at a lush green plantation.
Paradise beach is one of the best relaxing beaches in Pondicherry. Take a sunbathe and enjoy the magnificent and picturesque view of the beach. There are local vendors selling coconut water and kulfi at the beach. You will also find restaurants and shower/change rooms at the beach. If you don’t want to visit the beach, there is an option of going just for a boat ride at the backwaters. They have different fees depending on the service and boat.
Timings- 9 a.m- 5 p.m
Visit Aurobindo Ashram
A peaceful place established by Shri Aurobindo Ghosh on 4th November 1926 is located on Rue de la Marine is one of the wealthiest ashrams in India. People from all over the world visit the Ashram for internal peace and harmony. Mobile phones must be switched off, and cameras are strictly prohibited. You will find a complete silence inside the Ashram where you can explore your spiritual side and, hence, the best place to meditate. There is a library, an art gallery, nursery, nursing home farms, etc., inside the Ashram.
Timings- 8 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm (Open Everyday)
Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple
Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple was built in 600 Ad. and is one of the oldest Hindu Temples in Pondicherry, built-in 600 A.D. It is located at M.G Road in Pondicherry. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. The temple’s architecture is similar to the Dravidian style of architecture, and it was believed that Cholas built the temple during the 11th century, which was carried by Pandyas.
You can seek blessings from the female elephant Laxmi who is brought outside every evening at 4 pm.
Timings- 6:30 am to 12 pm and 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
Spend an evening at Promenade Beach
Promenade beach or Rock beach is the most happening and busiest beach in the city of Pondicherry. You can enjoy yourself and relax there. Walking on the beach of Promenade in the evening and then spending time at Le Cafe sipping hot chocolate just in front of the beach was one of the best and pleasant experiences of my entire journey to Pondicherry. Other than Le Cafe, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants which serve delicious foods and drinks. At the Promenade, you will also find a huge idol of Mahatma Gandhi. You can see Lighthouse from Promenade.
If you want to find some alone time at the beach, I suggest not visit in the evenings as evenings will always be crowded even on weekdays. So, I recommend you to visit in the morning and don’t miss the chance of being a witness to a gorgeous sunrise.
If you want to learn more about the fascinating art and history of Pondicherry, head over to the Pondicherry museum. There are various artifacts such as artworks, French period furniture, coins, stonework from Cholas and Pallavas dynasty rulers, bronze sculptures, findings from Arikamedu, the Roman settlement in the city, weapons, paintings and much more. Timings- 10 am to 5 pm ( Closed on Mondays and National Holidays)
Shopping in Pondicherry
Pondicherry is a tourist destination, and hence there are plenty of shops that sell local handicrafts stuff. It is the most attractive shopping destination where you can shop from various retail outlets or do street shopping. It is famous for souvenirs, aromatic candles, dresses, incense sticks, essentials oils, handicrafts and many more.
Boutique such as Kalki boutique and La Boutique D Auroville is famous for silk and cotton fashion, accessories, garments and stoles. If you want to purchase paintings, furniture, carved wooden chests, head over to Geethanjali.
Go on a City Tour
If you have less time to explore Pondicherry, you can book a Pondicherry city tour. Pondicherry is spread across 90 km. Therefore, it takes only 10-12 hours to complete the tour. On a day trip to the city tour, you will learn about various churches, ashrams, and the French Colony. It is a mixture of culture and the modern era. Join these tours and get to know more about French and Tamil cuisine.
However, you also can rent bicycles if you do not want to book a city tour, then. You will get a vintage bike for rent, and you can enjoy your bicycle trips roaming around the White Town where you will French Quarters for 2 hours for Rs 1700. We neither book a cab nor a bicycle, but we simply walked through the lanes of the beautiful houses of White Town.
There is so much to do in Pondicherry that a weekend is not enough for it.