Pondicherry Weekend Trip Guide

Don’t you know what to do in India? Then come to Pondicherry. There is an artistic, bohemian atmosphere in this city and it is nowhere in India as relaxed as here. Listen carefully, maybe you’ll hear that they speak French here. Pondy, as it is known, was under French control until 1954 and Gallic history is particularly evident in the eastern part of the city.

Have you ever spent your dawn greeting the eastern shores with the rising sun, the morning eating cakes in the middle of an art gallery, your afternoon meditating in an autonomous wellness township, and your evening enjoying the sea breeze with a glass of wine? That’s the unique Puducherry experience.

Driveable from the major southern hubs of Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad, it’s the place for all travellers - artists and poets, meditators and healers, adventurers and tourists. You need only your camera, some sunscreen, and your mind empty - from Auroville to Baker Street...you get the drift.

Pondy’s goal is to do as little as possible, so turn on your inner sloth. The Old Town all has curious terraced houses and cobblestone streets and you can dine here in French. If you missed the croissants, steak and red wine, get your portion here and then go to the beach.

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. As they call it, a corner of India that is forever French, Pondicherry is both colorful and intriguing.

The view of the town from light house is so bewitching. Beaches like Paradise, Promenade, Serenity call out for a laid back weekend. 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.

If you are looking for one of the best honeymoon places in India, which includes beaches, owing to their pleasant climate conditions, Pondicherry deserves mention. Also known as Puducherry, it is renowned for the pristine seaside beauty along with the French legacy preserved in various corners of this city. It has its own airport and railway station, but most prefer a road trip of 150 km from Chennai airport.


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.


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. Wonderful universal town in Viluppuram district, where people from different countries live in harmony. The purpose of the city is to restore human unity.

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!


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. The beautiful beaches in Pondicherry can cost you nothing if you sign up to stay at Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The tourists are allowed to stay here free of cost and are even served vegetarian meals thrice a day. For a spiritual connect, spend more time at the ashram practicing Yoga along with the teachings of Mother Mirra Alfisa. Not to forget the alcohol here is dirt cheap too!


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.


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.


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. Book tickets on the IRCTC website.


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.
Kalyan Panja