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Every corner of this charming and small coastal town of Pondicherry, now Puducherry, is a haven of peace and tranquility. It is nice to walk along the picturesque promenade or explore the colonial heritage of the city, which has remained virtually unchanged over time.

Pondy, as Puducherry is affectionately called, is a pleasant mix of Indian and French influences, in the architecture of its buildings, in its art and crafts, French aesthetics and rich Tamil traditions are perceived, not forgetting its gastronomy.

Pondicherry Complete Travel Guide

WHAT TO SEE IN PONDICHERRY


Puducherry by its name in Tamil or Pondy abbreviated with love, is a small enclave where two fundamental influences stand out: the French colonization and the spiritual movement led by Shri Aurobindo. In the first place is the French domain that is noticeable in the buildings of ocher color, still linked to galas institutions.

The boulevard facing the sea and the reticular urban design endowed this commercial port with a kind of European rationalism. There are imposing churches, although they are not the buildings that stand out the most. The pastel colors cover Our Lady of the Angels, one of the most colorful Catholic temples, hidden in the second line of the sea.

Currently several institutions of the colonial era are being recovered, in some cases for accommodation or restaurants, but also for public heritage. This is the case with the old town hall, which was in a dilapidated situation. The European heritage is something that distinguishes Pondicherry space, but it is something of the past. Now, instead, Pondicherry's living force is in spirituality.

The second influence, that of Aurobindo, has survived beyond the teacher. The Aurobindo Ashram is one of the most outstanding complexes in the city and a must-see if you are looking for a spiritual experience, as if you are just an inveterate curious. Its gray buildings occupy a large area of ​​the white city, demonstrating the heyday of the ashram community.

Around it you will find mainly Bengali visitors who come from the state of Bengal. The place where he lived and shared his teachings Shri Aurobindo is a place of spirituality and reflection, where the faithful sit around the samadi of the teacher and the Mother to feel the special energy that emanates. It is not a grave, it is a memory space.

Another essential visit is to the temple of Ganesha or Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar. In the afternoon the elephant Laxmi arrives at the temple doors to bless the faithful. It is part of the daily routine. On the festival days, which are many, an image of the elephant-headed god is taken in procession through the city. You can check the calendar on the temple website, although it is more practical to ask when you arrive.

Finally, if you have time you can spend an afternoon at the evocative Serenity Beach or one of the beaches of the state of Puducherry.

DON'T MISS A VISIT TO AUROVILLE


Auroville is a utopian project on the outskirts of Pondicherry. It has its origin in the Aurobindo ashram, but has developed a very different space, community and way of life with much more foreign presence.

In fact, Auroville is the utopian vision of The Mother. Mirra Alfasa's story is extraordinary. This Frenchwoman left her husband in 1908 and accompanied Aurobindo a good part of her life. It was precisely he who nicknamed her The Mother. At her death, Mirra Alfasa took over the ashram, but also developed the ideas of integral yoga towards the construction of a universal city.

Auroville is also an innovative urban development project, a place of new age spirituality, a testing laboratory for sustainable companies and solidarity projects. A land paid to experiment with alternative social, economic and spiritual life forms. The visit is interesting and has as a maximum point of interest the walk to the Matrimandir, the spiritual center of Auroville.

The Aurobindo Ashram is an emblem of the city and famous throughout the world. Many are those who come to Ashram every year to learn and practice the divine teachings of integral yoga, a scientific system that helps in the harmonious development of each aspect of the individual.

You can also visit the charming experimental municipality of Auroville, near the city, where the message of love and peace between people is promoted. Its pristine beaches are another tourist attraction, providing the perfect place for a relaxed night. And if visiting the place reminds you of the Oscar-winning movie Life of Pi, don't be surprised, parts of the movie were shot here!

WHERE TO STAY IN PONDICHERRY (AND EAT)


Pondicherry is also a hedonistic city full of good restaurants and charming hotels that take advantage of French heritage and rich Tamil heritage. Two of my favorite places to sleep and also for lunch or dinner are Le Dupleix and Villa Shanti.

Dupleix - A boutique hotel with a lot of history. It is located in the house of the former governor of the rebuilt colony recovering part of its original furniture. Le Dupleix is ​​a project of the Indian leather brand Hi Design, originally from Pondicherry, associated with the hotel chain Sarovar PĆ³rtico. Colonial furniture combined with contemporary elements, such as glass walls in some rooms. The location is perfect, next to the best restaurants, very close to the sea and the Anokhi store.

If you can't find a place in Le Dupleix, the same group has a Pondicherry classic: the Hotel Promenade. On the boulevard, next to the lighthouse and facing the sea, the Promenade is the five-star hotel in Pondicherry. It has modern rooms with colonial touches, and has a swimming pool, an ideal terrace for a drink at sunset and an excellent restaurant. The rooms need an update, so maybe it would take away the fifth star. On the other hand, the price that is very competitive for this standard.

The Shanti Villa - The most coveted boutique hotel. Also located in a colonial building, it does not maintain the historical patina, but has chosen to be a hotel with a charm of modern creativity. It is undoubtedly the most desired restaurant in the city, and the rooms have quite high prices and it is difficult to find a place. Get ready for a more minimalist design of spaces, with excellent treatment and a letter that transports you to the best bistros of the ancient metropolis. The place to have a drink with jazz rhythm.

Le Pondy Resort - The luxury hotel in Pondicherry. In the middle of the estuary, this hotel is an exclusive property that has a private beach in the Paradise Beach area. Perfect for those who want to stay two or three days in Pondicherry and take advantage of the mongrel environment of the excolonia to disconnect. It is south of the city, but a stone's throw from the white city and the best restaurants.

The guest houses of the Aurobindo Ashram are the economic option. If you are looking for a basic accommodation at a good price in Pondicherry, keep in mind this proposal that is rooted in the history of the city. They cannot be booked through online platforms.

HOW TO GET TO PONDICHERRY


Mahaballipuram is very close to Chennai so many travelers skip the capital of Tamil Nadu and come directly to this small, much more picturesque and quiet town.

PONDICHERRY BY AIR

The new Chennai airport has national connections with almost all of India. The flight to Chennai from Delhi or Mumbai starts at 2500 INR.

You can use Chennai as your arrival airport for a trip through southern India. The capital of Tamil Nadu enjoys many international flights, especially via the Middle East. Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates are the main connections with Europe and America, but you will also find flights with Lufthansa or British Airways.

If you arrive by plane to Chennai, you can opt for a taxi ride or Ola or Uber from the airport to Pondicherry (4-5 hours). I recommend that you first stop at Mahabalipuram and it doesn't get that long.

PONDICHERRY BY TRAIN

There are daily trains arriving at Puducherry station from Tirupati, Chennai and Villupuram. From the western coast, a train leaves Mangalore that crosses the state of Karnataka and the north of Tamil Nadu. Once a week a train arrives from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bubhaneshwar. These are multi-day trips. Despite the charm of the train in India I do not advise you to use them. Book tickets on the IRCTC website.

PONDICHERRY BY CAR

From/to Mahabalipuram the journey to Pondicherry takes between 2 and 3 hours. On the way you can visit Auroville.

From/to Thanjavur the distance is similar and it will take 2-3 hours. You cannot miss Gangaikunda Cholapuram, a temple that is part of the ancient Chola Temples, a World Heritage Site. On another road, you will pass through Kumbakonam which also has temples of that dynasty.

From/to Tiruvannamalai there are about 100 kilometers traveled in 2 hours. This scale is perfect for you if you come from Bangalore or continue to Karnataka. Tirunavannamalai is one of the least known and most impressive sacred cities of Tamil Nadu.
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  • Friday, October 12, 2018
Kalyan Kalyan Author

22 comments:

  1. Wow, thank you for sharing it. We are planning a trip to pondicherry too. I have read about aurobindo ashram . I think I will visit there for sure.

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  2. It seems like such a great location! Im glad you got to enjoy it :)

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  3. Sounds like you had a very good time, despite the heat. Honestly, when it gets super hot when sight seeing, I try my best to grin and bear it -but sometimes it doesn't work out that way, ha ha ha! Does make for some hilarious memories down the road though!

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  4. Wow this trip sounds amazing! The temple city would be cool! Beats lounging on the couch all weekend:)

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing. It sounds like a fabulous time!

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  6. Podicherry looks so fun and beautiful! What a great place to travel with friends.

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  7. What an awesome trip, I love getting away with friends as well

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  8. Wow, I am glad you had such fun even though it was THAT HOT! I've never been to a place where it's too hot that I want to stay in the car! :O

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  9. It sounds like a good place to visit. I could use a couple days of magical away from home rest.

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  10. Sounds like a fun trip. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Sounds like you had a great time! I agree that people should travel more whether locally or internationally. There's so much to discover in this world than to always stay home. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. I haven't visited that part of the world yet but your Pondicherry trip looks so much fun! I'd love to visit there!

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  13. I am surprised buddy, you completed the trip in this summer?

    I mean, how was the experience?

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  14. Looks like you've had a lot of fun time and experiences exploring this place. Thank you for sharing this guidelines with us that we can use on our future visit.

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  15. This is such a great experience. Been always wanted to travel in India to see beautiful places like this.

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  16. Wonderful..Glad you shared this amazing list. I am a travel bug and looking forward to experiencing Spain later this year this list will help me out.

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  17. Such a wonderful place to take a wonderful vacation. It’s so really nice ambiance to spend with family and loved ones.

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  18. This looks like a wonderful weekend trip! So relaxing and fun to explore!

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  19. Oh how lovely! It sounds like you've had a great time, I've always wanted to go and now more than ever!

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  20. Pondicherry is such a beautiful place and has a very unique culture. I would personally love to visit Auroville centre :)

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  21. Sounds like you had a great time with your friends in Pondicherry. Sometimes we all could use a day just like that.. just go and explore!

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  22. Wow, this seemed like an awesome trip! I might have to add this to my bucket list.

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