Pondicherry, I heard the name first time in my school time and it was easy to remember its capital (Okay! I am bad in puns). So, fast forward to last month, when I got to visit Chennai for work, I grabbed this opportunity and was able to manage a much awaited short trip to French rivera of the East. I googled best places to visit, things to do while in Pondicherry and TADAA! suggestions came flooding in. Too many things to do, too many places to see, so much so that I got confused. And then my knights in shining armors (plural because there were many) came to the rescue! My insta fam 🙂 They were ready to help me with shortlisting the places to visit and restaurants to eat in. Ready to take on the city with my camera, I left for Pondicherry.
About the city
Pondicherry (or Puducherry) is a city of Indian union territory of Puducherry. The city has many colonial buildings, churches, temples, and statues which, combined with the systematic town planning (rectangular pattern road system) and planned French style avenues, still preserve much of the colonial ambiance.
How to reach?
Pondicherry is 170 k.m. away from Chennai via NH 32 and 160 k.m. via East coast road (ECR). It is approximately three and half an hour (3.30 hrs) journey. Puducherry road transport corporation (PRTC) and Tamil-Nadu state transport corporation runs many buses from Chennai to Pondicherry and vice versa too. I booked the bus from PRTC scheduled at 10.00am (first bus starts at 9.30 am). So I reached around 9.00 am at CMBT, Chennai after having breakfast at hotel. I saw the bus and it was written “via ECR”on top.
Next bus was mine and it was via NH32. So I realised that alternate buses go through different routes. Remember? there are two route for pondicherry, You can choose either of them as buses are available for both. Well! when you will book tickets, bus route will not be mentioned anywhere on the time of online booking.So Yeah ! I missed the earlier bus via ECR.
Anyways, I reached Pondicherry around 1.30 pm, with 24 hours in hand. I will narrate about my experience and few popular places I have covered in this limited time. Hope it will help you to plan your next trip to Pondicherry 🙂
I booked hotel Golden Sun Inn through make my trip beforehand. It was a budget hotel and I got this in 1300Rs for AC room. The location of hotel was really good. It was 2.9 km from Pondicherry bus stand. Auto rickshaws charges heftily here, Auto drivers asked for 150Rs for just 3 k.m. (no meters :/) and after bargaining, final deal was done in 120 Rs. I reached hotel and checked in, Room was okay with all basic amenities. After freshening up, I got ready to head out. I was already done with the auto rickshaws and decided to rent a bike. I got Activa scooty for 350Rs/day and googled for Auroville.
I had lot of confusion initially because I thought Auroville to be a just another place to visit. So, some how after asking ‘n’ number of people I managed to enter the most sought place, Auroville. Turned out Auroville is a township planned for upto 50000 people, where people from all over the world can live in harmony. For those who don’t know, In 1968 some 5,000 people assembled for inauguration ceremony attended by representatives of 124 nations, including all the States of India. The representatives brought soil from their homeland, to be mixed in a white marble, lotus-shaped vase, situated at the focal point. For more insight you can visit their website
Then some locals suggested me to visit Matrimandir and helped me with directions to reach there.
“Matrimandir”, a futuristic, spherical temple covered in gold discs. It is basically a meditation centre, mind you it’s not a ‘tourist’ site; and visitors can only see it from distance (Matrimandir Viewing Point).
Below are some useful info, in case you are visiting the place:
Passes for the Matrimandir Viewing Point can be obtained for free at Auroville’s Visitors’ Centre, after watching a short introductory video on the Matrimandir.
Timing for issuing of Passes at the Visitors’ Centre:
Passes Issued: Mon. to Sat., 9.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
Sunday, 9.00 a.m. – 13.00 p.m. only
Sunday Afternoons Closed
Matrimandir is a master piece, a structure straight out from a Sci-Fi movie. Its was way more beautiful from the inside, I spent there some more time and walked back to Visitor’s centre.
I had some snacks in a cafe nearby and left for my second destination, the Promenade beach.
Promenade beach ( also known as Rock beach)
It is the popular stretch of beachfront in the city, along the Bay of Bengal. It is a 1.2-kilometre-long stretch in Pondicherry and one can easily spot the prominent Mahatma Gandhi statue in middle.
Starting from the War memorial and ending at the Dupleix Park on the Goubert Avenue, the beach is popular in locals for the morning and evening walks, to me it looked similar to marine drive (Mumbaikar thing :))
Another interesting thing to see is the non functional old Lighthouse, located just opposite to the statue of Gandhi ji.
I spent good time while walking along one kilometer stretch and then started hunting for good place for drinks and dinner.
It is central attraction of the city and as the name suggests it was exclusively reserved for white French people in past. It has typical french styled colorful houses with balconies, clean roads.
The street view will transport you to classic movie location and for a moment you will forget that this place exist in India. After playing with my camera for a while, we headed back to our hotel.
Next day, early morning I went to Paradise beach, which was around 10 km from my hotel. It was beautiful and less crowded with clean shore and picturesque view.
But to my surprise nobody was seen on the shore. Actually going in water is prohibited , as some people died there in past. This was really disappointing , I was really looking forward to playing with waves.
We had breakfast at cafe design art and went back to hotel, took some rest and started packing for my way back to Chennai. I had bus scheduled on 2.00 pm from Pondicherry.
One interesting thing I got to know that restaurants in Pondicherry are very strict when it comes to timing. I reached to famous Dilliwale 6 restaurant at 11.30 am for lunch. But the waiter denied as they serve lunch only from 12.00 pm onward. Keeping in mind that I had to reach bus stand before the scheduled time, I tried trading for lunch in other nearby restaurants but same rant!
I left the city with empty stomach but with camera full of photographs so never mind!
It was a short trip but a memorable one. I am looking forward to return back to Pondicherry with more time in hand and obviously Vijaya by my side. Because writing blogs is not my cup of tea, and folks that’s my way to thank her for much needed edits 🙂