Brightly coloured walls, Mediterranean styled heritage houses with high compound walls laden with vibrant bougainvillea vines, neat and clean streets where South Indian filter coffee and croissants go together! Yes it’s Pondichery- A mix of modern heritage and spiritual lifestyle. The French influence is everywhere right from the food to architecture, from roads to cafes and streets to hearts! And it’s rightly called “The French Riviera of the East”. This quaint little town is tucked away on the eastern seaboard of India. And let me tell you that the super hit blockbuster movie “Life of Pi” was also shot here!
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went there for the tutorial break for about four days and had an incredible time. The place has a beautiful laid back vibe, where you get to slow down and enjoy life.
Best time to go to Pondicherry
The best time to go is October to February when the climate is cooler. We went in the month of August which was a little too hot and humid for both of us.
How to get there
We drove down from Wellington and it took us around 7-8 hours to reach our pretty destination Pondicherry. It falls on the National Highway 45, which connects it to Chennai and Bangalore.
There are many buses available for Pondichery from some of the nearby cities, like Chennai, Thanjavur, Trichy, Coimbatore, Bangalore, and Madurai.
Villupuram is the nearest railway station, which is about 35 km from Pondicherry and is well connected to cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, and Trivandrum.
The Pondicherry airport has frequent flights from Hyderabad and Bangalore. However, if you’re coming from Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, then you’d need to take a connecting flight from Chennai international Airport.
Understanding the city
The plan of the city is based on the French grid pattern with beautifully laid roads cutting across each other at right angles. The city is divided into two parts: The French Quarter/ White Town and the Indian quarter/ Black Town. Many streets retain French names, and villas in French architectural styles are quite common to find here. The two are separated by a Grand Canal that still runs through the city today.
Where to stay
Pondicherry undoubtedly has a wealth of suitable hotels to stay in, whatever your budget! We decided to stay in White Town which is very rich in both heritage and beautiful surroundings! We stayed at this gorgeous beachfront property- Promenade Hotel. A hotel by Hidesign, one of India’s top fashion brands.
It has 38 stylish rooms and suites with classy decor and colonial style building. It’s one of the most lavish beach hotels in Pondichery. There’re all range of hotels so you may choose as per your choice. You may consider the below mentioned properties like Palais De Mahé, Le Dupleix, Le Pondy, The Windflower Resorts Spa, Ocean Spray for a fabulous time in the town.
Places to visit
It’s called “City of Dawn” and is a place where people from all over the world stay together in peace and harmony. To visit the Matrimandir one needs to make the booking fee days in advance. It’s 10 km from the city. Also for shopping go to Kalki boutique there which is in the premises and is just wow! Kalki specialises in incense sticks, essential oils, massage & aroma therapy oils, natural soaps & bath works, pottery, hand painted home accessories & paper lamps. And I shopped here for almost till I dropped!
Places to eat
Want to have some breathtaking views of the lighthouse with soothing sea breeze and sound of the crashing waves along with delish Asian cuisine? Then you must come to this place, the prices are slightly on the higher end but the place is to die for! It’s in Promenade, the same hotel where I stayed, and made frequent visits to this restaurant even during the day time to enjoy the view! Now who wouldn’t do that when the place is spectacularly beautiful! Isn’t it?
Pondicherry, is a quiet town with almost no nightlife. So if you’re going there for happening parties then Goa should be on your cards and not Pondichery!
Go there to taste a little bit of France in India. For me, it was a good experience. It had everything, From beaches, to culture, delicious food to friendly locals. So make sure to add Pondicherry to your South Indian adventure!
Have you been to Pondicherry already? Did you explore the city differently?
Kindly spill the beans! I’d love to know and for any Pondicherry related query, you may email me or ask in the comments below.