Short Break to Pondicherry

1st Dec 2013
Photo of Short Break to Pondicherry 1/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Short Break to Pondicherry 2/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Short Break to Pondicherry 3/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Short Break to Pondicherry 4/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Short Break to Pondicherry 5/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Short Break to Pondicherry 6/6 by Ashmi

The easy-going city of 'Pondy' as known by the locals is one of those places that you come to for a short break but end up staying longer - thanks to the quiet beaches, quaint architecture and the spiritual discoveries you'll make. Known for its piquant Creole and Tamil cuisine, indolent way of life and spiritual aura, this former French outpost retains nuggets of its colonial past and is ideal for a peaceful, relaxed holiday.

Take in the charm of Auroville and Shri Aurobindo Ash - city of Shri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, The Mother. Explore the French Quarter and indulge your love for heritage architecture and bits and pieces of Gallic history. Don't forget to take a break at one of the quaint bakeries for some excellent bread and chocolate that's close to ambrosia. If you're thirsting for a sight of the sea, Puducherry's beaches are known for their un-spoilt beauty, while the Promenade is great for shopping and general sightseeing.

Founded in 1926, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at the heart of French Quarter holds collective meditation sessions on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday between 7:25pm and 7:50pm around the Samadhi and on Thursdays and Sundays in the Ashram playground between 7:45pm and 8:15pm. You can also visit the Samadhi outside of these times.

Photo of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, White Town, Puducherry, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

Known for its grand neo-Gothic-style façade, the Sacred Heart Church has vaulted arches and stained glass panels, depicting scenes from Christ's life (Subbayah Saai Botanical Gardens). Immaculate Conception Cathedral with its half-moon arches, ornate columns and chandeliers is full of old-world charm.

Photo of Sacred Heart Church, Cardinal De Beausset Street, M.G. Road Area, Puducherry, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

Located 8km north of the city, Serenity Beach lives up to its name and is a place where you can laze the day away . Paradise Beach, accessible only by boat, is an option too, as is the Auroville Beach, ideal for swimming with its small waves and shallow waters.

Photo of Serenity Beach, Kottakuppam, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

The city is divided into the French Quarter and the Tami canal. The French part is lovely to walk through. Filled with colonial villas and houses with balustrades and large wooden doors and windows, it also makes for wonderful photographs.

Photo of French Quarter , Pududucherry by Ashmi

Villa Christophe is an affordable yet memorable guesthouse with just three rooms. Jasmine has a cute sleeping area that's reached by a twisted wooden staircase; Hibiscus has an all-blue bathroom and Firangepani, a mauve one.

Photo of Villa Christophe, Puducherry, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

Neemrana's Hotel de lOrient is much like a Chettinad ancestral home, with plaster walls, low ceiling corridors and open spaces. The yummy breakfast is served on the patio.

Photo of Neemrana's Hotel de l'Orient , Puducherry by Ashmi

A recent addition to the town's hotel scene is the Casio Group's Maison Perumal, which gives you a taste of Pondy's 'Black Town' or the Tamil Quarter.

Photo of Maison Perumal by Ashmi

Le Dupleix with its sweeping white arches and elegant woodwork, is the refurbished home of Joseph Francoise Dupleix the celebrated Governor General of French India. Each room is unique and there's a romantic patio in front too.

Photo of Le Dupleix, White Town, Puducherry, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

Sited close to the town center the promenade treats you to ocean views. Its rooftop barbecue restaurant is popular.

Photo of The Promenade, White Town, Puducherry, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

If you're looking for privacy and a little romance what's more perfect than wine and Coq au Vin under the starts at restaurant named Rendezvous Cafe Restaurant. Fabulous food and a lovely ambiance make this one of Puducherry's best-known eateries.

Photo of Rendezvous Cafe & Restaurant, Puducherry by Ashmi

A café, a rafts shop and a fine example of colonial architecture, Kasha ki Aasha, promises a feast for the senses. The European thali is a good option as are its cakes and pancakes, all served on the rooftop.

Photo of Kasha Ki Aasha, Puducherry, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

Baker Street is a French bakery that is great for lunch or brunch although you may be forced to linger on, tempted by the freshness of its chunky baguette lightness of the éclairs.

Photo of Baker Street , Puducherry by Ashmi

La Maison Rose is a tiny restaurant with tables under the stars. The food is perfect and light with typically mild, French flavors.

Photo of La Maison Rose , Puducherry by Ashmi

Head to Le Club for melting tender pork roast or try one of the steaks and salads that the restaurant prides on.

Photo of LE CLUB, Dumas Street, White Town, Puducherry, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

If you've had enough of the lazy life, Puducherry has a few surprises hidden away. With Temple Adventures, founded by Rob, a Tamil-speaking Australian, you can learn to scuba dive even if you've never swum a single lap in your life. The Start Diving Course, a weekend program that lets you test the water. The course can be taken in a single day or over two half-days. The latter is recommended, not because you're lazy, but because diving comes with its share of exhaustion and not to mention addiction.

Photo of Temple Adventures, Colas Nagar, Puducherry, Pondicherry, India by Ashmi

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