A walk down the cobble stoned rues of Pondicherry will reveal its colonial past and why it is called the ‘Little France of India’. Along your walk you will see the statue of Francois Dupleix, not too far away is one of Joan of Arc. It’s a trip down France as one crosses the beautiful paths lined with colourful Bougainvillea.
This city has been inhabited by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes and the English. However, it was under the control of the French in the 18th century that this tiny fishing village was transformed into a grand port city. The French first set foot here in 1670 and left a part of them when their rule finished in 1954. Not much has changed since. The history has become punctuated. The air is filled with nostalgia and the present is living up to a heritage that speaks so much. A trip to Pondicherry is like a journey in time with a vibrant present celebrating its interesting past.
Pondicherry is a small Union Territory in India that has a lot to offer. These are a few of the places I visited in Pondy that you just cannot miss on your visit.
As soon as you drive into Pondy you are hit by the smell of beaches and the astounding ability to hear your thoughts clearly. The quaint little town is iconic for its infinite stretches of unspoilt beaches. The view of the sunrise from Promenade beach is absolutely breathtaking. The sight will leave you awe struck and in admiration of the world around you. Coffee from ‘Kofi Bar’ is a must have after viewing the sunrise from Promenade beach.
Paradise and Serenity beaches are the others that you cannot afford to miss on your visit.
Fellow Traveller’s Tip: Carry a book or a music device with a calm and peaceful playlist and just lie down and take in what it has to offer. It is the perfect way to understand life.
Old Light House – This dilapidated building has a vintage charm that is undeniable and calls out to take notice. Located in the centre of Beach Road, it was originally erected as a landmark that would provide light for fishermen and mariners during the night, but today it is the proud house of a museum.
Fellow Traveller’s Tip: Visit this structure after your morning breakfast at Le Café. Take a walk around the light house.
Pondicherry Museum – The Museum is located on Saint Louis Street, in the former law building. It is house to some rare bronze and stone sculptures which were excavated at Arikamedu (an ancient port that had trade ties with the Roman Empire). The Museum showcases Pondy as a melting pot of cultures and is definitely worth visiting to understand India’s rich history.
Auroville – or the ‘City of Dawn’, was created in 1968 with the idea of building a futuristic city where people of goodwill can live together in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The world we live in today, laced with war and violence, it is reassuring to step into this township, walk to the ‘matrimandir’ (the walk is only for the brave hearted and strong willed, otherwise there is a bus that will take you till the golden globe) and just bask in the tranquillity and solitude the structure offers you. On your walk to the ‘matrimandir’ you will come across a large Banyan tree, that is so old that its roots immerse itself into the ground. The seats around the tree, is the perfect place for introspection. It is possible to visit the inside of the ‘matrimandir’ with prior permission. It is an architectural wonder, which is a confluence of modern western and traditional Indian elements, created by Roger Anger. The significance and structural composition of this wonder are truly fascinating and shouldn’t be missed.
Do not miss the Bread & Chocolate cafe in Auroville. Their bakery and smoothies are absolutely delicious.
Fellow Traveller’s Tip: The visit to Auroville is one whole day worth of an adventure, do not plan anything else to do on this day, except return to your stay, have a refreshing shower and go taste the delightful cuisine that Pondy has to offer.
Alan D. Wolfelt once said “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” Pondy has several eat outs with a host of delicious food that will leave you craving and salivating even days after you’ve finished your meal. French food and wood fire pizzas are the iconic food that is served in Pondy. These are some of the restaurants that would be sacrilege to miss if you visit.
Picture a little café on the shores of beautiful blue waters and the sun seen as a golden ball in the reflective mirrors, which is the Bay of Bengal. Seems like a figment of one’s imagination, doesn’t it? That is the exact description of Le Café. Once the port office when the railway ran along the Beach Road from the South Boulevard to the old 240 meters iron pier. The coffee and croissants are the highlight of this little café. The French toast on the menu is not the traditional vanilla, eggy delight, but toast with cheesy vegetables on it, yummy, nevertheless. It is the place to read your morning paper, drink your morning cuppa and live by the age old philosophy given to us by Timon and Pumba ‘Hakuna Matata’.
Café Xtasi has the best wood fire pizzas in Pondy, eat from here and you will never look at pizza the same way again.
Carte Blanche on Rue Romain Rolland, is located inside Hotel De L’Orient, it serves the best food ever! The Crème brûlée they serve here is like the celestial beings themselves prepared it for you. Let the architecture and ambience remain a surprise for you when you visit.
Baker Street is another café that you must visit. The delicious sandwiches, tarts, quiches and pastries are extraordinary.
These places will make you want to drive down to Pondy again and again and again. Stop reading this and plan a trip to Pondy NOW!
To explore the cuisine – Here are pictures and reviews of restaurants!
Written by Kshaema Susan Mathew