Puducherry previously called Pondicherry and commonly known to as ‘Pondy’ was under the French jurisdiction until 1954 and some people here still speak French and English with French accents. Hotels, restaurants and ‘lifestyle’ shops sell a charming image of the French-subcontinental artistic, magnified by Gallic inventive types whose residence has, in turn, drew Indian artists and designers. Wide highways, seafront stroll, French building, stunning beaches and places of religious significance make Pondicherry a stop worthy of being visited.
The Pondicherry Museum
The city of Pondicherry is widely known for its sculptures, architecture and cultural influences. Those who wish to acquaint themselves with Pondicherry should therefore visit the Pondicherry Museum which is a hub for art enthusiasts, history lovers and explorers.
The museum is known for having remains from the Arikamedu Roman settlements. At the same time, it features a rare collection of bronze and stone sculptures that provide information and insight into the Chola and Pallava dynasties of India. Apart from this, the museum also houses some of the rare artefacts from Roman empires that once lived in Pondicherry.
The museum is also popular for artefacts from literature and Dravidian culture. One of its regions is the Bharathidasan Museum, which is named after the popular Pondicherry poet and playwright. Here, one can find French diaries and other artefacts that reveal facts about how architecture in this city has flourished over the years.
Designed by popular architect Roger Anger, Auroville is a strategically planned, experimental township that aims to develop India through the idea of peaceful co-existence. The township, located close to Pondicherry is often referred to as the ‘City of Dawn’ and is named after Sri Aurobindo.
Auroville is the best place for those who seek to learn more about India and its spirituality. It was created to bring progressive harmony aims to transcend creed, culture, politics and nationalities. Visiting here is truly a unique experience.
The project was initially founded in the 1960s by the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo. The society founded this project to ensure that people attain divine perfection and find meaning of their existence through peaceful living with one another. The place also houses a large architectural marvel called Matrimandir, which features 56 kilograms of gold on its dome along with golden mounts. The building, which glows with sunlight, is widely considered as a harbinger of peace, serenity and tranquillity. The Matrimandir is a middle point of this township and a popular place of interest.
French War Memorial
French War Memorial is a popular place of interest. Built on the Goubert Avenue or The Promenade, it serves as a reminder of those valiant soldiers who lost their lives during the World War-I from 1916 to 1919. The memorial, built in 1971, is reminiscent of the fact that war leaves fatalities behind and doesn’t answer any questions or offer any solutions. On the Bastille Day, i.e. 14th July every year, the memorial is illuminated in a beautiful manner, ensuring that locals and travellers can pay homage to courageous martyrs who laid down their lives.
Closely located to the Gandhi Statue and surrounded by eight pillars, this statue reminds one of the era gone by and the Indian struggle for independence. French influence can be seen close by as an iconic, marble statue of Joan of Arc, located here.
Chunnambar River is widely popular for its backwaters, which offers travellers the opportunity to enjoy picnicking with their families and children. Among the tourist places to visit in Pondicherry, this boathouse not only allows one to stay in a luxurious manner, but also ensures that travellers enjoy the trip of a lifetime amidst nature and greenery.
The boathouses here are driven by the crew and oarsmen in the Chunnambar River. They have one, two or three rooms along with sundeck, balcony areas and other facilities ensuring that you stay in a leisurely manner. Apart from boathouses, the river here also has a water sports centre, where travellers can enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities.
Bharati Government Park
Bharati Government Park is one of the most organised parks in the country. This important place to visit in Pondicherry is designed in such a way that it serves as its green centre. Considered to be a French Town, this park is now an area that bustles with life, thanks to a number of locals and travellers who visit here with their families and kids.
The park features a beautiful pond and a local museum. Nestled around hills and traffic parks, this is where kids can learn and enjoy a variety of things. It is divided in four, almost equal parts and showcases an amalgamation of ancient sculptures and modern statues. The place is also known for housing Raj Niwas, the residence of the Lieutenant Governor. It once served as the Palace of French Governor of Pondicherry. An art gallery in the South and an Eastern side with French bandstand are popular in this park.
The Promenade, also known as the Goubert Avenue is one of the best places to visit in Pondicherry. Designed in a French style, it has boulevards and swaying palm trees all around. The seafront is best when visited in the early morning, when you can enjoy calm and tranquil nature and refresh yourself with a morning walk. This is also great for those who wish to socialize with locals and other joggers.
After the jogging or morning walk, make sure that you try tea stalls and coffee stalls here. The place is great for enjoying the sound and mist of sea breeze. It is also known for its bustling bazaars in the evening. If you love the bustle, then evening is the time to visit. But if you favour serenity, make sure you visit it during the morning hours.
The Pondicherry Botanical Garden
All over the world, botanical gardens are tourists’ delight. This Pondicherry Botanical Garden is no different. Providing respite from the heat and hustle-bustle on main roads, this garden serves as one of the delightful places to visit in Pondicherry.
Located south of the New Bus Stand, it is a reminder of French architecture, providing an insight into how architecture in France developed and how colonization has had an impact on the development of Pondicherry. Built in 1826, the garden was initially laid out in ornate style so that locals could picnic and enjoy their free time refreshing themselves amidst trees, grasses and flowers.
Tourists can enjoy the sight of fountains, gravel lined paths, beautiful flowerbeds and pruned trees. One of the most ornately designed gardens in South India, the botanical beauty houses around 1500 varieties of plants.
The Pondicherry Botanical Gardens are well known for exotic species of different plants procured from all over the world. Every weekend musical fountain shows are organised.
Pondicherry Beach is a paradise for all beach lovers and tourists. It is flanked by a flowing creek on one side and is also known for its tree houses, which are located on the backwaters. The beach is a budget one in South India as it is cheaper to access and accommodation in pondicherry is lesser when compared to other beaches and their resorts or hotels in the country.
The seashore is also known for organising a wide range of activities including cruises in the backwaters, trekking, beach volleyball, chess, picnic, themed events, table tennis, and catamaran rides for travellers. All these activities along with the beautiful surroundings, waters and golden sands is what makes this beach perfect for a holiday.
Raj Niwas in Pondicherry is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor. It is one of the most important buildings, which once served as a palace during French colonization of the country. It used to be the residence of Dupleix, the official French Governor, who was notorious for trying to destroy Manakula Vinayagar Temple.
Currently, the Niwas is located in the Government Park and parts of it are opened for the public. Dr Iqbal Singh, the present Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry resides here. The place is well known for its parks and gardens, along with sculptures from medieval and contemporary era, giving a keen insight into the culture and life of Pondicherry.