Pondicherry – that lovely little corner of France in India! No, I’ve never been to France, but I’ve visited Pondicherry and would recommend a visit to everyone.
Despite its small size, Pondicherry (popularly referred to as ‘Pondy’ and now officially ‘Puducherry’) was the largest French colony in India. If you are travelling by road from Tamil Nadu, as we did, get ready for a minor culture shock – the French Architecture, the broad roads, the food are unique. The city continues to have a post-Colonial feel about it, divided distinctly into two parts by a canal – The French Quarter and the Tamil quarter. What I find most fascinating about it is the blend of Tamil and French culture and how beautifully reflective of the melting pot of India it is.
I visited Pondicherry about 15 years ago with my brother and his family. Since both his children were below three, our visits to the sights were quite short. But what I saw was enough for me to want to visit again.
Now Jose and I plan to visit in November/December this year, October to March being the best time to visit. We been researching places to visit and hotels in Pondicherry. I thought I’d share our research with you today and then do a post-visit blog post later.
We plan to drive down via Bangalore. Hyderabad – Bangalore should take us about 5 to 7 hours. We’ll spend the night at Bangalore and then start early the next morning. Pondy is 320 odd kilometers from Bangalore and we should make it in good time there.
Pondicherry Visit Plans
These are just some of the places we are aiming to visit, explore and take pictures of. It’s best to explore these places on foot so as not to miss out on the details.
The Promenade (also known as Goubert Avenue)
With its French style boulevards, the Promenade has such a serene feel to it most mornings. The palm trees and the pleasant sea breeze make it such a great experience. I’ve also seen it at its bustling best since my last visit was on New Year’s Eve!
The beautiful Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges is a definite sight to see.
The last time I didn’t really get to explore it and I’m looking forward to seeing more details of this replica of the Basilica of Lourdes, Southern France. I’m hoping we can catch Mass there to get the full experience.
Aayi Mandapam (Park Monument)
This miniature Arc de Triomphe built during the time of Napolean III. There’s a legend behind this monument that I’d certainly like to find out more about.
I’m always fascinated by lighthouses and although it is no longer functional, I’d love to go look at Pondicherry’s 19th century lighthouse.
The French Quarter
I’d love to walk up and down the streets of the French quarter taking in the beautiful French architecture of the buildings with their trademark yellow and white and some gray too. I remember visiting the beautiful home of nuns at the Cluny Embroidery Centre. Besides the exquisite work they do in the center, the 18th century building, and the antique furniture are beautiful to see.
Naturally, we will visit Auroville, the township that is an experimental community. This is technically a little out of Puducherry, in Villapuram District. It is an experience I wouldn’t want Jose to miss.
There are several other monuments and places, not in least the beach, to see and I hope we can pack them in to our visit.
We plan to stay for a week and are really excited. We are presently looking for hotels in Pondicherry and will make our books as soon as we can.
Have you visited Pondicherry? Do you have any recommendations for places to visit?