If you are in Chennai you must visit Pondicherry!
It is about 3 to 4 hours of drive from Chennai city.
Some of the things and places you must not miss while in pondicherry are…
The Sunrise : There are some things in life that you can never get tired of, and watching the sunrise is right on top of that list. And if you want to behold a magical sunrise, you have to be in Pondicherry. That feeling of the sun coming out of the deep blue sea can lift your heart and make your day!
The Beaches : One of the best things about Pondicherry is the beaches. There are 4 main beaches: Promenade beach, Paradise beach, Auroville beach and Serenity beach. They are never too crowded and, compared to other beaches in India, the beaches in Pondicherry are pretty clean and well kept. And there is nothing quite as refreshing as sitting by a beautiful beach!
The Cuisine : Pondi cuisine is the perfect blend of different cultures and customs. There is a lot of seafood that can be enjoyed in Pondicherry and, being in the south, the traditional South Indian fare of idli-dosa is available too. And thanks to the French influence, good steak and wine are served in most restaurants. The aura of the little restaurants all around Pondi adds to the ambience.
The Old Lighthouse : One of Pondicherry’s most famous landmarks, the lighthouse was constructed in 1836 and at that time, was considered very modern because of its unique round tower. It is not operational today but still remains a very interesting tourist attraction.
French War Memorial : The French War Memorial is majestic in its simplicity. By the beach on Gobert Avenue, it is a simple construction of four pillars erected in memory of all the French soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. Not too far away is the Statue of Dupleix, installed in honour of Joseph Francois Dupleix, a Governor General of the French Establishment in India.
Gandhi Statue : As if to remind you that you’re in India, not France, there is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi not too far away from the memorial. Located on the Promenade, the statue is surrounded by 8 monolithic granite pillars from the 17th century. The entire monument is very striking, especially when seen from a distance.
Pondicherry Museum : At various points in time, Pondicherry was under the control of the French, the British and the Dutch. The Pondicherry museum houses various relics and artefacts from those periods. There are also sculptures and other archaeological findings from the Arikamedu Roman settlement.
Scuba Diving : You don’t need to go abroad to do something as surreal as scuba diving. You can have your breath taken away by going underwater in Pondicherry. February-April and September-November are the best months for scuba diving in Pondicherry.
Chunnambar Boat House : Why just sit on the beach when you can go into the sea! At the Chunnambar Boat House, one can hire a speed boat or a regular boat as per the number of people and requirement and take a ride around Paradise beach.
Ousteri : Also called Osudu Lake, Ousteri is a lake just a few kilometres away from Pondicherry. One can take a boat ride on the lake and enjoy the scenery. The lake is a heaven for birdwatchers as several migratory birds flock to Ousteri during season.
Arikamedu : Several artefacts from Ancient Rome, including sculptures, glassware, lamps and gems, have been discovered in Arikamedu, supporting the belief that it used to be a port for trading between Rome and Tamil Nadu. Arikamedu has been inhabited for the last 2000 years, but now only some perpendicular walls from that era exist as the rest has been destroyed over the centuries.
Churches : There are 32 churches in Pondicherry such as Church of Our Lady of Angels, Sacred Heart Church, Dupleix Church, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Conception Cathedral to take the name of few of the biggest and oldest ones. Their beauty lies in the French architecture and the solace they hold within. Irrespective of your religion, just a few minutes of silence and reflection within these churches can put your mind at peace.
Aurobindo Ashram : The ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo in 1926 when he decided to withdraw from public view and continue with his spiritual growth. The place is now visited by thousands of spiritual seekers from all over the world. If inner peace is what you seek, this is where you should be headed. The ashram gives a lot of importance to yoga as it helps in transforming body and mind.
Auroville : Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual collaborator, Mirra Alfassa, also known as the Mother, founded Auroville in 1968. Her aim was to create a town where people of all nationalities could live in peace and progressive harmony, and true to her ideal, the place is a study of calm and composed. Several workshops and therapies in and around the area help people get over their personal demons and be at peace once again. Even for the casual visitor, Auroville is an enchanting place.
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