Pondicherry or Puducherry as it is now referred to, is distinctly divided into two. One side of the local canal ‘Pondicherry’ still retains much of its French flavour. This part of the sometime capital of French India is the setting for Aurobindo Ashram, the roads are called Rue and the local Bazaar is on St. Laurent Street. It is one of the last sites of a certain European genteelness that most of India has lost. On the other side of the canal, you’ll find ‘Puducherry’, a small time South Indian town where the flavours aren’t basil and thyme but curry leaves and roasting rai seeds.
When the French handed over this enclave to India in 1954, the Union Government took over the responsibility of its administration and till date the territory of Pondicherry, which consists Mahe, Karaikal, Yanam and Pondicherry, is a Union Territory. Among other things, that somehow translates into cheap beer! Travellers head here for that, and of course, more. Auroville – an organisation that experiments with international community living was set up just outside the city by The Mother, a disciple of Shree Aurobindo.
Its quiet beaches are an attraction too, as is JIPMER, one of the best medical colleges in the country. The facilities are state of the art, the services are very reliable and there are beautiful murals on the walls. ‘Pondicheri’, ‘Puducherry’, ‘Pondicherry’, or plain “Pondi”, this neat town where the last traces of French perfume and baking croissants waft in the breeze, is witnessing the passing of an era. Catch it now, before that special flavour fades completely.
How to Reach Puducherry?
By Air : The nearest airport is at Chennai (Tamil Nadu). From there it is possible (and most convenient) to hire a taxi. To catch a bus to Pondicherry you will have to first get to Chennai city, which is 16 km from the airport.
By Rail : Pondicherry is connected by rail to Chennai, Trichy and Villupuram.
By Road : Pondicherry has direct bus links to many places in the state and also to Bangalore in Karnataka. the road trip from chennai takes about four hours.
Best Time to Visit Puducherry
October to February is the season for Pondicherry. October is beautiful just before the heaven’s open up in November when there are heavy rains. December and January are important months for the locals who celebrate Christmas and New Year with aplomb. These are also the months when activity at the Ashram increases because of the birth and death anniversaries of Shree Aurobindo and The Mother. Weather wise it is pleasant until March after which it gets hot.
Things to do in Pondicherry
There is no dearth of things to do in Pondicherry. Visit the Aurobindo Ashram and experience the tranquility of the place. Then spend some time at the beaches called Serenity, Reppo and Quiet and see how they carry on the idea of peacefulness that seems to personify Pondicherry.
Go on a gastronomic journey when in Pondi - dine at little cafes that keep up the tradition of serving delectable French cuisine as also restaurants that dish up the gamut of traditional south Indian dishes to hearty north Indian Punjabi meals. Shopping is a delightful experience and one can find great leather bags and other items, scented candles and of course the handmade paper and incense sticks that Pondicherry is so well known for.
Pondicherry has something or everyone!
Hotels in Puducherry – Choice is Yours
There are numerous hotels in Puducherry ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.