- Encounters with locals
- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
An essential destination while on a trip to Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry will thrill those who love colonial architecture, especially in the French Quarter, next to the Bay of Bengal. There are a multitude of restaurants that offer Western dishes that you might be missing after several days of eating foods so rich in spices.
I regularly went to events – concerts and exhibits – offered by the Pondicherry Alliance Française, which is especially active here. Besides, as the colonial influence requires, Pondicherry is one of the rare destinations where we can still find Indians speaking the language of Molière perfectly.
A few kilometers from Pondicherry, you'll find Auroville, a self-governed society that is focused on world cultures and spirituality. Tourists are not necessarily well received here, as the community prefers those who are willing to stay a few days and participate in the numerous works that a place like this requires. It is a different world that is worth taking a look.
I found Pondicherry to be a pretty and charming town. Being located on the coast, in the heart of Tamil Nadu, it's a convenient, southern, stopover point during a trip to India .
Make sure you visit the old, French quarter - you'll be pleasantly surprised by the colonial pillars on the facades and balustrades. I remember, after having spent several months touring India, how happy I was to eat a 'French-style' rib steak, with a Roquefort cheese sauce, in one of the many French restaurants in the town!
And whilst you're at Pondicherry, you should check out Auroville, an experimental township next door that was created by Mirra Alfassa ('Mother Mirra') and Sri Aurobindo - it's definately worth a visit.
During my trip to India, I came to Pondicherry to see what was left of the former French trading post. I arrived during a heavy rainstorm, and I experienced the most unique scene at the market. I was strolling along the paths of the little market with my wife, both of us wearing ponchos, when a mother and her young daughter wearing burkas approached my wife. They stopped in front of her for a few moments and then politely shook hand with her. They took her as one of their own. They must have been a little shocked but thrilled to meet a European who was dressed like them. With the sun back out, we were able to get rid of our rain "poncho-burkas" to go around Government Place and the Manakula Vinayagar temple.
The city is peaceful, calm, clean, and almost even luxurious. How nice to stroll through its streets, to breathe in the atmosphere of Pondicherry in the time when it was an Indian trading post during French colonization. Beautiful colonial houses, great gates concealing tranquil gardens, cobbled streets, and yellow-walled houses.
At a turn in the road, I took off my shoes to go into the Sri Aurobindo ashram. A leader of the Nationalist Movement for the Independence of India, he finally chose a career of poet-philosopher with long hair and a goatee. Barefoot and in silence, I took in the spiritual atmosphere of the premises. By making prostrations at his tomb and meditating in yoga positions, devotees add an incredible Zen moment to the atmosphere. How peaceful! A luxury in India! I found a little more hustle and bustle along the beach. I went to see the colorful facades of the stunning churches of Notre Dame des Anges and Sacré Cœur de Jésus. The first was light pink and the second was white and burgundy. Amazing!