Every time I think about Pondicherry, the visuals that come to my mind are of the sea and yellow and white buildings representing classic French architecture. A reminder of it being a French colony in the past. I was excited at the thought of spending a weekend in the city with my parents. We drove down around 300 km from Bangalore. Starred in the afternoon and reached late night.
We had gone there in the month of October and during the day the weather was extremely warm (read: HOT). A quick online search on things to see in Pondicherry and the map indicated that most of the places where near each other. Thankfully, our hotel Ginger was also situated comfortably close to these places. You can read my wheelchair accessibility review of the hotel here.
We drove down to the Beach Road after having breakfast at our hotel on the first day. It was a beautiful sight to drive along the sea, seeing waves of the bright blue sea crashing against the rocky shore. There is a long promenade as well, probably a better option for an early morning or late evening stroll. I did not get down at the promenade because it had a couple of steps, it was afternoon and I was not in an accessible car (which meant getting in and out was quite a task) .
My folks did a quick stop to take pictures near two landmarks; the Mahatma Gandhi statue and the French War Memorial located almost opposite to each other on different sides of the street. We also got to know that the Beach Road is closed for vehicles after 6 PM. Pedestrians can enjoy the complete stretch by themselves. Le Café, a highly rated restaurant on travel sites, is also located on Beach Road. I would have loved to have lunch at this sea view restaurant, but it had a couple of steps and looked deserted in the afternoon. So we skipped and wandered on.
This is where the vision of bright yellow buildings with white outlines comes to life. Some buildings are homes, some government offices, some have been converted into hotels and cafés and so on. You will find a lot of people exploring the French quarter area of Pondicherry either by foot or on bicycles. It is also popular for heritage walks.
Old architecture and accessibility to not go hand in hand! So, going inside most of the cafés and hotels is challenging. However, there are a few accessible ones which I came across and you can read about them in this blog. We just drove through this area after checking out the promenade beach and before stopping at the Pondicherry Museum.
Established in 1983, the Pondicherry museum houses sculptures from Pallava, Chola and Vijaynagara temples. They have Buddha images from Kirmampakkam (near Pondicherry), bronzes from the Chola, and arms and weapons from Vijaynagara and Nayaka periods. The museum is open on all days, except Mondays. There is a display of sculptures in the area just outside the museum building. Since photography is not permitted inside the museum, the sculpture section is a popular selfie spot.