A quick getaway from the city of Chennai, Puducherry or Pondicherry (as it is popularly known) is a union territory that is not more than 20 kilometers in area. Given the size of this city, the easiest and most ideal way for you to navigate Pondicherry is on foot or by bicycle. Quaint lanes with white and yellow colonial structures, ruins of cathedrals, bougainvilleas at every window and expansive boulevards, allow you to slow down and appreciate the finer things of life.
This once French colony still sprinkles on its visitors the influence of its rich past. In the year 1674, a trading post was set up by the French East India Company, which soon became the primary French settlement in India. With the French settlements, came the influence on the food, lifestyle, and architecture of the area. Today, many of these structures have been converted into boutique hotels and restaurants welcoming travelers from all over the world. The food of Pondicherry also reflects the French way of living, and apart from the traditional south Indian cuisine, you can also find some sumptuous wine and steak to satiate those taste buds. Pondicherry has around 32 churches and all of them also show a glimpse of famous French architecture.
But Pondicherry has so much more to offer. Apart from the calm lifestyle, this small city boasts of beautiful beaches, rich marine life, bustling water sports, breezy promenades, cultural hangouts, and meditation centers. So here are the top 5 things to do in Pondicherry.
- Visit Paradise Beach: A popular spot to soak in the sun, Paradise beach is ideal to enjoy a day of boating activities. Along with boating, you can also revel in the smaller joys like building sandcastles, picnicking, hiking, and overnight camping.
- Walking by the promenade: Everyone loves breezy evening strolls, and walking/cycling by the promenade while listening to the sounds of the waves. It’s a great way to rejuvenate and have a relaxing holiday.
- Explore the underwater: Pondicherry has a rich marine life and it would be such a waste of a vacation to not explore it. The best way to see and learn more about what swims under the blue waters is to go scuba diving. You can be up close with beautiful natural coral reefs and a wide array of fishes. Time goes by very slowly underwater and helps put things into perspective of how we treat our planet.
- Take surfing lessons: After seeing life underwater, you can head to Serenity Beach for some quick lessons in surfing. Pondicherry is one of the popular destinations in India for surfing and attracts quite a many surfers, both amateur and pros.
- Finding your inner peace: Sri Aurobindo Ashram is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Pondicherry and people from every corner of the world come to the ashram to practice spirituality and find inner peace. While you are here, you can also view the various exhibitions on the life of Sri Aurobindo and take back home some spiritual books, perfumed candles, and essential oils as souvenirs.
The tiny union territory of Pondicherry can be aptly defined in three words and that is Sun, Sand, and Surf, thus making it an extremely tempting region that one must not miss to visit.
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How to reach:
By Air: The closest airport is Chennai and there are regular flights from every major airport across the country
By Rail: Villupuram is the nearest railway station (approximately 35 kilometers away from Pondicherry) and is well-connected to cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, and Trivandrum.
By Road: Pondicherry is well-connected to cities like Chennai, Trichy, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Madurai. Buses ply frequently to Pondicherry. You can also drive down from Chennai and Bangalore, which is about 150 kilometers and 320 kilometers away respectively.