TRAVEL GUIDE TO PUDUCHERRY

Last updated on 01-July-2019

CONTENT – Travel Itineraries / Basics / Places To See / Accommodation / Getting Around / Food / Cultural Sense & Safety / Shopping / Budget Tips 

 

Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, is one of the union territories of India. The territory comprises of Puducherry and Karaikal districts bound by the state of Tamil Nadu, Mahé district enclosed by the state of Kerala and Yanam district surrounded by the state of Andhra Pradesh. The most popular of the three locations among tourists is the capital Puducherry. Puducherry was a French colony until 1954. The colonial French architecture of White town and French quarter retains some of the memories of the colonial past.


Travel Itineraries 


2-3 Days (Moderate)  - Explore Puducherry and take a day tour to Auroville

4-5 Days (Relaxed) – Add a day or two to relax by the beaches and explore Auroville in detail.


 

The Basics


The most convenient way to reach Puducherry is by road or train. The city is connected to major cities like Chennai and Bangalore by railway lines. Therefore, you could plan a weekend trip from either of these two cities. Puducherry is about 4-hour drive south of Chennai and about 6-hour drive from Bangalore. You could also choose to fly in directly to the city from Bangalore or other major cities of India.


 

Places To See And Things To Do


The Promenade – In Puducherry, land meets the sea at the Promenade. This is also one of the most popular places among the locals and travellers. You shall find a crowd gathered here almost the entire day, particularly in the evening. The locals choose to relax here until midnight. One of the main attractions along the promenade is the Gandhi Statue. Embellished pillars believed to have brought from Gingee fort surround it.


The Beaches – There are many beaches along the coast. Out of them, Paradise beach and Rock beach are popular among the tourists. Serenity beach at Kottakuppam, as the name indicates, is a peaceful place to spend your evening at. The beach also offers surfing facility.


White Town – Move away from the promenade and explore the colonial buildings of White town.  While you take a walk along the streets of the town, you would walk past the French war memorial, the old lighthouse and Bharati Government park that also houses a monument built during the reign of Napoleon III.


Aurobindo Ashram – The ashram is the abode of spiritual guru, Sri Aurobindo. A lot of devotees visit here regularly for spiritual harmony and enlightenment. You could visit the ashram from 8AM to 12PM and from 2PM to 6PM.


Manakula Vinayagar Temple – This temple, dedicated to lord Ganesha is a popular pilgrimage site around the area.


The Churches – The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with its gothic architecture is located in MG road area. Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges on Rue Dumas displays beautiful influences of French architecture.


Auroville – Auroville is a township built by popular architect Roger Anger. It is located about 11 kms from the city center. Auroville is often referred to, as the “City of Dawn” Matrimandir is located at the center of this township. It is a popular meditation center.  There is a free tour available to view the building from a distance. To enter the temple, you will have to take prior appointment as only limited devotees are allowed to enter the hall at designated times. It would be easy to rent a scooter at your hostel or hotel to explore Auroville. The township also has some great cafés and restaurants.



Accommodation

Budget or solo travellers have a couple of hostels around the area to choose from. Micasa, Gurukulam, Loka house Auroville are some of the options. The price could vary anywhere from  ₹ 450 to  ₹ 100. Valentine hostel near railway station is another descent option.


Youth hostel is probably the cheapest accommodation available but it is located slightly away from the city centre. If you want to stay in a peaceful destination away from the crowd, this is a great option. Keep in mind that the facilities here are basic for the price you pay. For a medium range accommodation, Hotel Coramandal is known to have great reviews. Aurobindo ashram also has guesthouses mainly for its devotees. You may have to book in advance to ensure availability of room during your travel. 

 


Getting Around 


Buses are the most inexpensive way to get around the city. However, I would highly recommend renting a scooter at the hostel or hotel that you are staying in. With that, you could explore the city at your convenience.  This would special be useful to explore Auroville and the beaches around the city. There are several bike rental stores available around the city. It could cost you approximately around ₹ 350 per day. 


 

Food


The cuisine of Puducherry offers a perfect blend of South Indian and French offerings. While you get to taste the delicious South Indian delicacies in most of the restaurants, you also have a wide range of French bakeries and restaurants. Hot Bread is a famous bakery and hangout place among the locals. You could try some baguettes and quiche here to get a flavour of the French cuisine. Other popular hangout places are Farm Fresh, Tantos and Café xtasi for pizzas, Zuka for Chocolate and pastries and Bread & Chocolate for focaccia bread sandwich.


Le Café, by the beach, is one of the oldest cafes in the locality. Croissants and Pain au chocolat (Chocolate bread) are some of the specialities here.


White town is filled with fancy restaurants such as Hotel d’Orient, La Terrace and Banana café.


For south Indian cuisine, try Surguru Spot near Aurobindo Ashram. Also, the ashram itself serves Satvik meals for devotees. However, you will need a meal pass for this. It is available at the Ashram guesthouse, if you decide to stay there.

 


Cultural Sense & Safety


Puducherry has always been a popular destination for travellers from around the world, especially the French. Today, it is also a popular destination among Bangloreans. Therefore, it is a tourist friendly destination.


As far as cultural sense goes, most of it would remain same as for the rest of the country. Modest dress code is preferred in most places. Aurobindo Ashram and temples would mandate a certain discipline. Ensure to leave your sandals outside while entering religious places.





What to Buy And Where?


Auro Boutique sells interesting organic products like soap, essential oil and other handicrafts. These are made in the Ashram run cottage industry. You could also visit the cottage industry located in MG road area. They sell cotton clothes and other handicrafts that are made in house.


Cluny Embroidery Centre and Serenity Beach Bazaar are some of the other popular shopping destinations.


Budget And Travel Tips 


An approximate daily expense is listed below. All costs are in Rupees.



Rent a Bike - The best way to explore Pondicherry is by renting a scooter/bike. It would turn out comfortable and cheaper than booking a transport to places like Auroville. 


Try Local Food - There are many small restaurants that serve great local food. These are way cheaper than the fancy restaurants by the beach or in White town. 





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