Pondicherry (or Puducherry), a French colonial settlement in India until 1954, is now a Union Territory town bounded by the southeastern Tamil Nadu state. Its French legacy is preserved in its French Quarter, with tree-lined streets, mustard-colored colonial villas and chic boutiques. A seaside promenade runs along the Bay of Bengal and passes several statues, including a 4m-high Gandhi Memorial.
Weather: 32°C, Wind SE at 10 km/h, 62% Humidity
Population: 241,773 (2011)
HOW TO REACH
The airport at Pondicherry can accommodate landing of a small aircraft only and has flights coming in from Bangalore and Hyderabad. However, you can get a connecting flight if you are coming from Delhi, Kochi, Kolkata and Mumbai. Chennai is the second nearest domestic as well as international airport which is approximately 135 kilometres away from Pondicherry. The Chennai airport is well connected to all major cities across the globe. Once you reach at the airport, you can hire a private taxi to reach Pondicherry.
There are several buses that ply frequently from Chennai, Thanjaur, Trichy, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Madurai to Pondicherry. Both private and state-owned buses are available. The bus fare will depend upon the distance covered.
The nearest rail station from Pondicherry is Villupuram, which is about 35 kilometres away from the town. The railhead is well-connected to cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, and Trivandrum. Two of the most popular trains are New Delhi Pondicherry Express and Nagarcoli Express. Once you reach at the station, you can hire a taxi that will drive you to the city.
There’s a little piece of France in India and it’s called Pondicherry. A fascinating, small town with enough elements to charm its visitors, Pondicherry whose official name was changed to Puducherry in 2006 was once the largest French colony in India, hence the heavy French influence. A popular destination for seeking spiritual enlightenment, Pondy is home to the highly revered Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, where people of varied beliefs and nationalities live together in harmony.
The city is also known for its beautiful beaches. Interestingly, Pondicherry in many ways is not like your usual beach destination but somehow manages to offer some, if not all of its elements. Beaches are not very crowded, offer stunning views, especially during sunrise and sunset and are host to water sports like swimming, canoeing and kayaking.
From home-produced, authentic and delicious French food to dishes local to Tamil Nadu; in Pondicherry, culinary delights are many. The city is filled with fine restaurants and charming cafes in addition to outlets of international food chains.
Walking around or renting bicycles or motorcycles are the best ways to explore this delightful little town. As you walk around, especially in the town’s old French quarter, you might have a momentary lapse as to whether you are in India or France! The architecture is intriguing, to say the least and is mostly French-inspired. You will also find many houses painted grey. No, people are not gloomy; the grey colour is to denote association with Sri Aurobindo Ashram.