Updated: Mar 14, 2019
Pondicherry – Travelling domestic doesn’t mean you can’t catch a European glimpse while you are in the country. Head to Pondicherry with your bag pack and be prepared to indulge yourself in European culture and the fact that Pondicherry was a French colony till 1954 kind of works in its favor. Be it its beautiful architecture, French style restaurant or the Indian artisans exotically placed at White Town, it will give you a foreign feel in domestic airfare. Good hotels are many and reasonably priced.
If you are a morning person, start with Aurobindo Ashram, It opens at 8 am and gives you the calmness of solitude. This place is also a must visit for people who are spiritually inclined. It also showcases the achievements of Sri Aurobindo who was an Indian philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet and played a crucial role in India’s independence. He started a community which emphasized on the spiritual progress and entails a massive following today. Please note that photography is not allowed inside the Ashram.
Take your next stop at Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It is right in the middle of the city and offers a great deal from outside and inside as well. It was built in 1791, which makes it one of the oldest standing architectural marvels of the country. It’s a French style church, which offers prayers in 2 languages English and Tamil. Its interiors look majestic in white and yellow. It is by far the most visited site in Pondicherry. If you are in dire need of a drink and feel little tired and hungry then head towards Le Cafe as it is open round the clock and only waterfront cafe in Pondicherry . Relax on the chairs facing the Bay of Bengal and soak in the cool blue water.
You can ease out your evening sitting by the Rock beach not very far from the church. It has a long shore and couple of open-air restaurants or you can just enjoy a long walk with water gushing on the rocks. You can even sit on the rocks and be lost in the serenity. One thing you will notice the moment you reach Pondicherry is the cleanliness in the city. Not only because it’s punishable to litter but also because the locals here have a great civic sense.
Pondicherry offers many churches for praying and they also boast great architectures. Another one in the list is The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It has a gothic architecture inside out. Many pictures depicting all the saints and priests have been put in glass. This church is almost a hundred years old and is well maintained by the catholic administration.
The name Serenity beach explains more than anything else. But apart from being serene it’s also a gorgeous long stretch of Indian Ocean. You can very well spend the entire day here playing or walking or even eating delicious prawns. Surfing is quite common for tourists and there are people who will help you learn it as well. Try catching the evening here in this calmer and cleaner than everywhere beach.
Keep your half-day dedicated for one of the oldest Churches of South India Eglise de Notre dame des Anges and French war Memorial. Eglise de Notre dame des Anges was built by Napoleon the third in a Greco-Roman style. It is said that it had clocks that rang every 2 hours with the verse of “Ave Maria” the famous catholic song. Alas, its not functional now but you still can go and feel the vibrations, which are still strong enough for a religious jolt. Here the prayers are done in 3 languages French, English and Tamil.Just few meters away from Church you will find stylish structure ,French War Memorial which is dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War (1914-1918).
There are a number of people who come to Pondicherry just to visit Auroville region, as it is a much talked about progressive community built there keeping in mind the larger purpose of “humanity before anything else”. Anyone irrespective of their color, nationality or creed can come and live here. It was founded in 1968 as an experiment and it is so far quite successful in its endeavor. Unfortunately i did not get time to visit Auroville due time constraints and my trip.
There are few beaches around it too that borders Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. There aren’t many restaurants so pack your snacks in case you are the forever-hungry kind.
In short, Pondicherry is definitely worth your time, money and a quick escape to European wine and dines. Enjoy your leisurely stroll in the white town, some good live bands and a must to retain sublime feeling.