If you haven’t been to Europe yet then you could probably start with Pondicherry. You may think probably I am out of my mind….! But no, really.
Living so close to Pondicherry (being from Chennai) I have been here more than half a dozen times and yet I haven’t had enough of the place. I always get a feeling that I am very far away from where I live, like in another country! Like in France!
(I am yet to visit Europe though) Apart from the architecture that is quintessentially French, major part of Pondicherry (The French quarters or the area close to the beach) are clean and well maintained. You would have read slogans like “clean city green city“? Well, the Pondicherry people take these slogans seriously. You will find that the buildings are not only clean but painted in vibrant colours and here and there you could spot some wall art too!
The streets are dotted with small boutiques that are full of quirky clothes and wares and would make your walk through these streets more interesting.
People from all parts of the western world have made Pondicherry their home and these people move around the city like locals. Its common sight to see women riding motorcycles (especially enroute Auroville) adding to the out-of-India feeling.
In all, Pondi makes for a good weekend getaway for people living in the nearby cities and it is a must-add in the Tamilnadu travel itinerary
Things to do & Places to visit
- Take a walk through the French quarters ( area closer to beach)
- Visit Aurobindo Ashram & the Universal Temple or Auroville: The Auroville can be viewed from outside for which free passes can be obtained from visitors centre. To enter Auroville for first time, one has to obtain the pass in person from the visitors centre.
- The Seafront / beach.
- Eat wood fired pizzas at one of the many Pizzerias. We ate at “Cafe Xtasi”.
- Ditch Indian / South-Indian in favor of European food. We ate at “Villa Shanti” & Le Dupleix. Le Dupleix also offers interesting stay options.
- Do street shopping at the Sunday market in Mission St & Nehru St for cheap bargains in clothing.
- Visit Kalki for clothes, scarves, perfumed oils & soaps, cosmetic etc made by Auroville residents.
- La boutique Auroville for clothes, Jewellery & accessories.
- La Maison Rose.
- The French quarters are full of small boutiques like Janaki.
In addition “The Hindu” newspaper Chennai edition of Friday carries details on events happening in Pondicherry every weekend in its section called “Right up your Rue”
(Authored by Meha, a traveller from Chennai)