Located in South-Eastern part of India, Pondicherry is considered to be a French colonial center, popular for its quaint colonial-styled cafes, mesmerizing partying scenes and beautiful promenades. It is also termed to be the perfect destination for those eager to enjoy a seaside vacation at any time of the year. This beautiful and exotic coastal town does offer several exciting destinations and attractions that should not be missed out during the trip.
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Top destinations and attractions to visit in Pondicherry
- Pondicherry University Beach: Located at Kalapet, Pondicherry’s northern-most beach is also one of the most secluded and commercialized beaches in this Union Territory. It is popular for its resorts and golden sands and welcomes local, domestic and foreign tourists. When compared to other beaches of the region, it is a lot cleaner and well-maintained. This beach borders Pondicherry and the state of Tamil Nadu and is close to Auroville Township.
- White Town Promenade: This was once the residential quarters of French colonists in Pondicherry, with the whole neighborhood being a classic example of rich French architecture during the colonial times. This place does boast of having numerous French cafes and heritage buildings. India’s most beautiful promenade is considered to be White Town Promenade. Tourists can come across beautiful cafes like the Le Café, amazing sea views and well-defined seating arrangement along the promenade. One can also get to view the rich local Tamil culture that is evident from the street food and handicraft markets.
- Auroville Market: Auroville is considered to be an experimental township/city and undoubtedly among the largest crowd pullers inviting tourists from far and near. Residing there requires the person to forsake usage of money and absolute, long term commitment towards principles of unity. Located around 8 km from the city enter, Auroville Main Rd. Market is among the popular destinations here frequented by shoppers and travellers alike. When compared to markets, this place has fewer stalls and shops, but popular for its traditional merchandise and handicrafts.
- Matrimandir, Auroville: It is a memorial theatre and a shrine, attracting people in huge numbers to visit it throughout the year. This dome is actually a meditation amphitheatre that is located at Auroville’s centre. It is also regarded to be a vital architectural landmark of the region and acts as the de-facto centre of the whole town. Entry into the Matrimandir, which is golf ball-shaped, is restricted to Aurovillians only. But visitors can register in advance to visit the viewpoint located near the structure.
- Paradise Beach: It is regarded to be among the very best hidden beaches of the country located at the confluence of the Chunnambar River and Bay of Bengal. But being inaccessible by road, the beach can be visited only by using the ferry which takes about 5 minutes from the boathouse. Inspite of its remote location, it does have lifeguards, eateries and restaurants. It is also regarded to be the cleanest and emptiest beach of this Union Territory.
- Auroville Bakery & Boulangerie: Alcohol consumption is restricted in Auroville, thus attracting a different type of crowd from the one noticed at Pondicherry. This offbeat burgeoning tourism scene has witnessed the emergence of numerous restaurants and cafes offering gourmet menus, a variety of cuisines and locally sourced food. Auroville Bakery & Boulangerie is of special mention that is known to source ingredients locally and boasts of having a beautiful looking garden seating arrangement. It is known to produce gluten-free French style pastries.
- Serenity Beach: This beach in recent years has become a wonderful surfing destination. Its natural beauty is one of the major reasons for attracting a huge crowd throughout the year. The beach has popular surf schools and board rental shops. Beginners can enjoy availing surfing classes for just about Rs.1500/- a session.
- Chunnambar Boathouse: Pristine natural beauty of Pondicherry can be experienced at this park. Tourists are to take a ferry ride from the Chunnamber Boat House that is located close to the Chunnamber Creek’s mouth. This boathouse offers boating as well as various types of leisure services. It is also a popular sole access point for visiting Paradise Beach. There are also other options to enjoy numerous activities like backwater boating, etc.
- Shri Manakula Vinayagar Temple: This Hindu temple is said to derive the unique distinction to be termed the only Hindu temple to be established in White Town and is a popular one. The shrine has been devoted to Ganesha (Vinayaka), the elephant-headed god. This temple also depicts all forms of god and myths attached with it, and it dates much before the French set up their colonies here. It is a popular pilgrimage centre and attracts devotees from everywhere.
- Arikamedu: It is regarded to be an important early historic archaeological site that is located about 7km from the town centre. It is an ancient Arikamedu settlement, which once is known to have served as a crucial post serving the region. The settlement’s ruins are subjected to intensive studies. Excavations carried out at the site have revealed trade links with the Roman Empire dating back to Augustus Caesar’s reign. This site is said to be spread over an area of 34 acres and managed currently by the ASI (Architecture Survey of India). This place is also found in the 1st-century famous map of ‘Periplus of Erythraen Sea’ and identified as Emporium.
- Pondicherry Museum: This historical museum is located in White Town and is a major tourist attraction. Although its identity is related to French heritage, the region’s original history dates back 2000 years, when settlements like Arikamedu and ports had served as the point of contact with Roman empires. The Museum also has numerous rare artefacts. It also houses stonework and sculptures belonging to the Chola and Pallava dynasties.
Pondicherry hotels are well designed, affordable, clean, well maintained, spacious and hygienic. Since there are tourists rush all-round the year, it will be wise to book accommodation in advance.