The drive from Madras to this coastal paradise is in itself worth making the trip. And Pondicherry is absolutely stunning; first of all it has some gorgeous beaches, it’s the perfect blend of French and South Indian culture, not too salty not too sweet! If it’s your first time here, there are a whole lot of places to see in Pondicherry. This is our list of the best 6 places to visit in Pondicherry.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Founded in 1920, the ashram is the brainchild of revolutionary thinker and philosopher Aurobindo Ghosh. It is based on the philosophy of harmonious living and attracts visitors from all over the globe. It houses the Samadhi of its founder and his living quarters and has a diverse community of around 1200 members. The ashram has different departments to maintain its smooth functioning and to satisfy the basic needs of its members. Members engage in various activities in farms, libraries, gardens, and small-scale industries like handmade paper and printing press. There is also an Education Centre with around 400 students.
8 km from Pondicherry is Auroville, also known as the ‘City of Dawn’. It is an “experimental” township started by Mirra Richard, the Mother or simply ‘Maa’, renowned disciple of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh. Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.
This is the site of Roman settlements from more than 2000 years ago. Excavations at this site have brought out wine jars, coins and megalithic burial urns of Roman origin. The area was once a bustling Indo-Roman trade centre. You will also find the remains of an 18th century French Jesuit Mission house here. And in all probability, you’ll bump into a couple of history and archeology enthusiasts around these parts.
Pondicherry has some of the most beautiful stretches of beach in Tamil Nadu or for that matter, all of the east coast. Paradise beach and Auroville beach are the most popular and must do things in Pondicherry. Serenity beach is fairly offbeat and Promenade beach is more for strolling and Promenade Road as the seawalls make it impossible to swim in.
List of Beaches to see in Pondicherry
Plage Paradiso Beach
Pondicherry is quite the religious melting pot with a heady mix of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. While the Manakula Vinayagar temple is the most popular Hindu shrine, there is also the Varadaraja Perumal, Vedapureeswarar, Kanniga Parameswari, Kamatchamman, Panchavatee and the newest Pyramid Natraj temples. The churches include that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Capuchins, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of the Angels, Assumption and Saint Anthony’s Shrine. The Jama, Meeran, Kuthba and Mulla Muhamed masjids represent Islam.
Religious places to visit in Pondicherry
Sri Gokilambal Thirukameswarar Temple
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Eglise de Sacre Coeur de Jesus Church
Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple
Sivaji Nagar Church
Heritage Museums & Parks
Pondicherry is home to the Pondicherry museum, the Bharathiyar and Bharathidasan memorial museums and a toy museum, all housed in heritage buildings. There are beautiful public parks and garden spread out over the city. The French cemetery too is worth a visit if you have the time to see the ornate marble tombstones.
Museums to see in Pondicherry
Jawahar Toy Museum
Bharati and Bharatidasan Memorial Museums
Romain Rolland Library
Anglo-French Textile Mills
Parks in Pondicherry
Botanical Garden and Aquarium